Our guide to Sathorn, a fine-dining mecca in the heart of Bangkok
“I think the easiest way to describe our food at Dewakan is modern Malaysian cooking. I decided to focus on this kind of cooking because there just weren’t any exciting restaurants [in Kuala Lumpur] at the time. There are so many reasons [modern cuisine] hasn’t really caught on in Malaysia. First of all, I think the mass market here is quite behind. Even a carbonara, they want it doused in cream sauce. The other, I think, is fear from business owners. The moment someone complains, they want to go back to the carbonara, to something that’s familiar.
“I think KL’s dining scene needs to grow up. But even for every Nahm and every Bo.lan in Bangkok, there are still a lot of other shitty restaurants in Thailand. That’s just the reality. I think the next step for the restaurant scene to move on to a new level in KL is more chef-owners. We need more chefs who have control over the business.
“I’m very happy to go somewhere smaller where they’re doing something extraordinary. We’ve got a few examples. There’s Marcus Low at Table and Apron, Pete Teo and Lisa Ngan at A Little Farm on the Hill, and Darren Chin at DC Restaurant.
“At Dewakan, we try to base ourselves on ingredients rather than culinary tradition. We could make a rendang and add foie gras and say that’s modern Malaysian. But is that really modern Malaysian? Or is that just taking two concepts and melding them together and giving it a new name? What we’re doing is looking at ingredients and trying to build something from scratch.”