Fusion peruvian

Above Eleven brings a Latin touch to the Sukhumvit skyline

Rather than joining the eateries spreading out sideways in every direction from Sukhumvit, one venue has taken the challenge to new heights - the 33rd floor, in fact. Above Eleven is the latest to join the new wave of venues at the top end of Soi 11. But in a soi trying to digest a host of new eateries, what could another one bring to the table? Above Eleven's unique two-pronged attack involves a Peruvian fusion kitchen and a sweeping panorama of Bangkok's smog-fuelled sunset, going against the grain of new French bistros and burger outlets popping up everywhere; and it might just work.

Sukhumvit Soi 11 has turned into a more rounded nighttime entertainment area of late. It has matured beyond the basics of clubbing drawcards Bed and Q Bar, and old favourite Cheap Charlie's for an after work cheeky. Instead, the soi now provides venues for a whole night out with a number of early drinking options - Oskar, Alchemist - as well as restaurants - Zaks, Tapas, Charley Brown's - before you hit the clubs later.

Continuing this trend is Above Eleven, who takes the action off street level up a back elevator to the roof of Fraser Suites Sukhumvit. Access is via the lobby of the serviced apartments building. They have done just enough to disguise the service entrance, but once on the deck upstairs, the portal is immediately forgotten.

With an uninterrupted view west, the venue is positioned perfectly to take in the fading rays through the city's signature haze. The vista is not of the calibre of Sirocco or Moon Bar, but it avoids the depressing throng of tourists that the other two bars suffer. The crowd is still settling in, as it has only been (softly) open less than a month, but the not-so-subtle banner hanging down half the length of the buildings exterior will inevitably draw punters.

Crispy sea

It bills itself as taking design inspiration from the meadows of New York's Central Park. And an iconic park bench is said to be inbound, complete with a "Donated by Woody Allen" plaque. Another signature feature is the Observatories, or toilets. The Gent's Eastern Observatory offers a stellar view for relief-takers. The ladies aren't quite as lucky, since their personal business happens behind closed doors, but they can gaze down Soi 11 at the twinkling lights below as they dry their hands. It's a unique view of an area that usually happens more at street level, rivalling Long Table in the elevated Sukhumvit venue stakes.

With the view and right personnel in place, the only query left is over the food and beverage. Begin with refreshing signature Peruvian cocktails (B350) Maracuja sour and Pisco sour, which are made with pisco (Peruvian brandy) and offset with egg white and sugar. The sour tendencies continue with Michelada (B230) - beer mixed with lime, salt and pepper - which may squeeze the palette more than open it for some. Chilcano (B350) is a more balanced aperitif option with its ginger finish.

To solids, the food menu is the proud showcase of Chef Omar Frank Maruy, a Peruvian native. It's filled with dishes and guidelines, but also definitions, descriptions and even a little history. It all culminates in a lesson about Peru, a place far away from Thailand in many ways. However, some of the best food is available in unlikely places, and the "Nikkel" cuisine at Above Eleven stretches the imagination and expectations.

Pisco sours

Kani causa (B300) is a mashed potato fused with chilli and lime, topped with crab meat, mayo and avocado with big success. The mash is smooth, with hints of chilli pushing the crab flavour through sweet sauce. Another triumph of the appetizer section is Beef heart anticucho (B240), found on every street corner in Peru, apparently. The meat is marinated, and then char grilled, with the cut of meat picking up the smoky barbecue goodness beautifully. It's served with three colourful dipping sauces of various condiment trajectories. Another Peruvian staple is Cebiche Above Eleven (B550), which continues the fusion bent with raw seabass and prawns topped with deep fried calamari for texture. It's another unlikely fusion success, with sweetness combining with chilli to lift the seafood rather than overpower it.

Spicy fish (B300) from the sushi menu is peppery and savoury, and doesn't taste of fish like all good sushi, but is a little bland without soy. Crispy sea (B380) is also tasty without rivalling the popular fusion creations at Isao on Sukhumvit Soi 31.

Then the mains came. Arroz con mariscos (B530) is a paella-style rice bowl with loads of seafood bits and chilli, and a flatter finish. Seco de cordero (B950) is a slow-cooked lamb shank served with white beans, again an unlikely fusion with loads of salt and a touch of chilli. It could be from a number of countries, but somehow makes sense among the polyglot chaos of Bangkok.

It seems a little removed to eat Peruvian street food among the city's skyline with a million dollar view. But this is Bangkok, a city full of contradictions and juxtaposition. And while the New York leanings might confuse things, if you head to the venue at dusk and take a pisco cocktail while gazing into the night, any confusion or doubts about globalisation will disappear over the horizon with the fading sun.

Arroz con mariscos

About the author

columnist
Writer: Richard Mcleish
Position: Reporter