By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation Weekend
THE IDEA behind new Bangkok restaurant Charna is “a happy supply chain” – all the ingredients come from a network of local producers certified as environmentally and ethically responsible.
Charna is the latest venture by Food Passion Co, which operates the Bar B Q Plaza chain and the hotpot brand Joom Zap Hut. The restaurant’s name is a Hebrew word meaning “prosperity”.
Charna, on the second floor of Siam Center, looks quite inviting with its clean appearance, natural wood tones and an interior design that replicates a classic Thai-style house with louvered partitions, beams and wooden cupboards where food might be stored.
The new restaurant Charna borrows its name for the Hebrew word for “prosperous”, but it’s your health that will prosper most.
The decoration includes household kitchen utensils such as mortars and pestles, enamelware, pots and woven baskets.
“Our idea was to create a restaurant that would satisfy health-conscious diners and yet maintain the full flavour of every dish,” says owner Chataya Supanpong.
“The quality ingredients have been harvested with love by our friendly farmers. They’re cooked with care to make healthy dishes and assure a balanced meal of meat and vegetables.”
The Cold-pressed Juice Station
Out front is the Cold-pressed Juice Station. Grab your favourite ingredients and the staff will extract the juices for a delightful drink, or you can choose among the 10 prepared juice choices on offer.
Heart Beat (Bt95) is a concoction of beetroot, red cabbage, red apple and pineapple and is designed to strengthen the heart. Eyes Beam (also Bt95) is made with carrot, red apple, orange, pineapple and passion fruit and is said to improve your vision.
A shot of cold-pressed juice is a welcoming drink for diners as they arrive.
Freshly pressed juices make a nice start to the meal.
The menus are extensive and divided into five categories – Farm Pot, Farm Grill, Salad & Appetiser, Thai Comfort, and Drink & Dessert. Each category highlights the producers of the non-toxic, organic items used in the kitchen. The menu even has QR codes for the main producers that, when scanned with a phone, reveals more information about them.
“We want to pinpoint where the food comes from, how it’s grown or produced and what ingredients are used,” says Panadda Ritthiruengdej, public relations manager at Food Passion. “The principle is environmental sustainability. We should learn about the produce and the producers and be able to pay its real value.”
Farm Pot offers mild chicken soup and spicy soup. Choose one, then one of the three meat sets, which are all good value for money.
The Farm Pot has a choice of meat sets, including Kurobuta, Australian beef and seafood.
In the Kurobuta set (Bt385) are Kurobuta shoulder, liver, marinated chicken and pork, pork ball and smoked duck breast. The Assorted Australian Beef set (Bt495) has beef shoulder, tenderloin, marinated beef and chicken, and smoked duck breast.
For seafood lovers there’s the Fishermen set (Bt465) with salmon, ruby fish, river prawn, cuttlefish, New Zealand mussel, scallop, squid ball, fish tofu and tofu roll stuffed with prawn.
A-la-carte meat selections are also available.
“The pork is from Green Pork@Ratchaburi, a farm that produces meat free of antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones,” Panadda explains. “The no-toxins beef is from Max Beef in Rayong, part of the Beef Cooperative Network. And the seafood comes from Save Our Fish-Save Our Sea Network, the only network of Thai fishermen recognised with the Organic Agriculture Certification of Thailand.”
More than 30 different vegetables and herbs are on offer at the Farm Station.
Every meat-set order brings a basket you use to “harvest” your own fresh vegetables and herbs at the Farm Station, which has more than 30 selections.
Among the all-you-can-eat choices are jueng ju chai (white mugwort), beetroot, Chinese spinach and celery, kale, taro and red cabbage. Many of the organic and toxin-free vegetables come from the Jon Non Rai and Boon Chaluay farms in Nakhon Ratchasima.
You can do your own mixing and matching at the Sauce Station – where there are more brisk decisions to be made among the ingredients – or follow the restaurant’s chart suggesting how to mix jaew, ponzu or seafood.
The grilled meats and seafood are paired with vegetables and fruit that come in five colours and, because they’re fresh, grilled or blanched, in different textures too.
Grilled Pork Ribs
Worth trying are the Grilled Pork Ribs (Bt395), which are marinated in herbs and topped with roasted, shredded lemongrass for a nice crunchy texture.
Other choices are Char-grilled Chicken Breast with Pesto Sauce (Bt285), Grilled Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce (Bt345) and Pork Roulade Filled with Apple and Spinach (Bt395).
Siam Ruby Corn Som Tum with Salted Egg
For a spicy kick, Siam Ruby Corn Som Tum with Salted Egg (Bt155) should not be missed. It has the perfect combination among the firm flesh of the corn and the balanced flavours of the som tum dressing and salted egg.
Another fine choice is Salmon with Herb Spicy Salad (Bt185), topped with crunchy fried shallot and aromatic dried chillies.
If your time is limited, the Thai Comfort menu is full of quick meals. Each comes with a organic onsen egg from free-range farm Baan Rak Din in Kanchanaburi where the chickens dine on healthy herbs like rang chuet (laurel clockvine) and look yor (great morinda).
Organic Rice and Mackerel
The recommended dish here is Organic Rice and Mackerel (Bt175), the fish for which swims in from the Mae Klong in Samut Songkram. It arrives at table with chopped chillies and shallots, a slice of lemon and spicy soup and salad.
Dried Tom Yum Spaghetti with Salmon Steak
Other fusion dishes include Dried Tom Yum Spaghetti with Salmon Steak (Bt245) and Spaghetti with Palo (five-spice egg with pork in sweet brown sauce, Bt195).
End the meal with a tempting dessert such as Gluay Khai banana dressed with coconut milk and served with coconut ice cream on a bed of rice crackers (Bt145) or the silky soft Milk Pudding with Pineapple (Bt75).
Gluay Khai Banana with Coconut Ice Cream
GOODNESS SO FRESH
Charna on the second floor of Siam Center is open daily from 10am to 9pm.
Call (061) 415 8252 or visit the “Charna” page on Facebook.