Reena Karim delights in Mediterranean fare in an art-inspired setting in the heart of Sathorn.
‘Is it an art gallery or a restaurant’, I wondered as I walked into Moko on a cloudy Monday afternoon. “It’s a bit of both”, says Phapha Khusrithepprathan, the general manager of the place. In spite of my initial confusion, Martine Pailloux, the owner, had a very clear vision in mind; she wanted a healthy Mediterranean eatery that doubled up as an art gallery, wait, maybe it’s the other way around.
Martine uses her French-African ancestry as the starting point for the concept behind Moko. The name itself comes from a West African tribe her family descended from. Cementing the idea further is the placement of a symbolic tribal mask on one of the walls. Street art photography and light installation pieces, some of which are available for purchase, heighten the gallery aspect of the place. Martine, an interior designer by profession, has tastefully adorned the space with one-off lamps and furniture and even, a hat rack with handmade fedoras. Accentuating the black and white colour aesthetic is the rustic charm of old leather chairs, wooden stools and benches and handmade steel tables. Making its presence felt is a large open kitchen with a counter where you can watch chef Marco Rosato in action, or just eye the array of sweet treats in front of you.
The great thing about Moko is that despite all these elements, the space is surprisingly roomy and clutter-free. If the weather allows it, you could also find a spot on the semi-covered patio along the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. It makes for an ideal romantic setting at sundown.
Moko opened its doors in April and has since received a warm welcome from Bangkok hipsters, expats escaping office monotony, and brunch lovers like you and me. The friendly, laid-back vibe here is great for an afternoon of tête-à-tête or just lounging about with a book. Moko sits on a quiet soi on Sathorn and offers a hideaway for a quick meal or hearty lunch to linger over. The artsy setting here provides for a perfect background to a healthy European and Mediterranean-inspired fare.
The menu features a small selection of bruschettas, salads, seafood dishes, pastas, and desserts, as well as all-day hearty breakfast platters on the weekends. A small blackboard lists ten daily specials that are refreshed every few days. We started with Classica Bruschetta (B250). Two grilled homemade slices of bread arrived with generous toppings of Jabugo ham, mozzarella, sun-ripened tomatoes, and sweet basil. A green dressing made with olive oil, mint, and garlic lent the dish its refreshing, herby flavour. I ditched the cutlery and went at it with my hands. I am glad I did so because it whetted my appetite for the next round.
Seabass Tartare (B330) came our way and quite easily won me over. The tartare comprised of fresh sea bass, finely chopped lemongrass, red chillies, spring onions, pomegranate seeds, and topped with a secret in-house sauce—I suspect it had ginger and mint. The ingredients brought out all the right palate-friendly flavours and also left behind juices on the plate that I soaked up with warm bread.
We also treated ourselves to Scottish smoked salmon (B300). The earthy and aromatic salmon arrived on a bed of sautéed vegetables such as carrots, green apple, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, seasoned with herbs. The olive oil and lemon juice gave the dish some zest, while pink peppercorns gave it an intense, fruity taste.
I admit we had way too much food to call this lunch, but a meal without dessert is a catastrophe of epic proportions. So we did the right thing and ordered in Panna cotta (B180). It arrived in a chilled glass with layers of soft, fluffy panna cotta, a tart berry sauce, and swirls of crème fraiche to form one heavenly treat.
Moko takes pride in their offerings of libation and it reflects in its expansive menu. Take your pick from smoothies (B90), fresh fruit juices (B150), wine, beers, spirits, and cocktails, and a variety of cold and hot teas from Harney and Sons (B90). We were encouraged to try one of their signature drinks, Green and Tender smoothie (B120), a healthy concoction of cucumber, parsley, celery, basil, and lime juice.
Featured in Masala Lite July 2014