Katja Henke a native of Hamburg Germany took over as General Manager at The Peninsula Bangkok on 27 December 2012. Her hospitality career started at the age of 18 when she embarked on a two-year apprenticeship at the Bernerhof in Gstaad and attended the Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern.
Story by Laurence Civil
Katja’s international career has also taken her to France, England and the United States, where she worked as General Manager of Blantyre, a Relais & Châteaux property in Lenox, Massachusetts. Prior to joining The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited (HSH), she was also Hotel Manager at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. and the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, California. She joined the Peninsula Group as Hotel Manager of their Shanghai property before moving to Bangkok.
As a contrast to her working environment what she likes her two personal favourites is the way they always delight dinners with their new culinary creations
In no particular order here first choice is Ruan Urai
118 Soi Na Wat Hulumphong, Suriwongse Rd, Bangkok 10500 Tel +66-2266-8269/72 www.ruan-urai.com
Set in the grounds of The Rose Hotel the name means “The House of Gold”. A century old golden teak house, recently restored in Ayuthaya, the former residence of the herbal medical doctor to King Rama V. Filled with Asian antiques and Thai crafts to create an intimate residential feel.Out of respect to the original owner the food uses herbs and spices that gives an abundance of flavours combined with medicinal qualities.
Dishes are more contemporary in their presentation with many presented on black slate. Here they take a simple dish and refine it while respecting the authenticity of the taste served in a contemporary presentation. A perfect example being Mieng Bussabong a variation the more familiar Meing Kham, meaning to eat many things in one bite, originating in India. The bettlenut leaf wrapping had been replaced by an open lotus petal filled with non-traditional salmon and lotus seeds with usual mieng condiments of diced shallot,fresh ginger, garlic and lime still in its skin, and Meing Kham sauce.
Migration brought a strong Chinese influence on Thai cuisine, particularly street food. One such example Mhuu Daeng Bping,a combination of Cantonese Sar Siew with Thai pork skewer, small bites with a crispier texture.
Another multi-ethnic dish was Ghai Khem Thong the healthy combination of grilled chicken filets with Enoki mushrooms and herbs that combines Thai, Chinese and Japanese flavours. An innovative well thought out dish.
Tamarind brings a refreshing tangy taste to Dtom Yum Ghai Bai Makham Ohn a spicy and sour soup of chicken and young tamarind leaves, an interesting flavour combinations that are rarely found elsewhere
Demonstrating that the historic Lanna Kingdom of Northern Thailand extended into Burma with the culinary consequence that resulted in comfortable tasting Ghaeng Hunglae a Burmese style pork curry with ginger and garlic.
Her second choice Eat Me 20 metres off Convent Rd. (in Soi Pipat 2), Bangkok 10500 Tel +66 2 238 0931, www.eatmerestaurant.com, open daily 3pm-1am.
Located in a non-descript Soi off Convet Road Darren Hausler’s restaurant and bar sets its own rules and successfully dares to be different. Combining clean lines, low lights modern art and eclectic Pacific Rim inspired cuisine that manages to pull off clean, fresh and bold flavours. While it may sound a contradiction it is both casual yet sophisticated.
It was rated 7th on BK Top Tables list and 25th at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015. Driving the unique innovative cuisine isNew Yorker Tim Butler whose fresh progressive approach presents dishes with a global mix of ingredients and influence ranging from Australian Wagyu Beef to line caught Japanese black cod and Manila clams with nam & coriander lime broth.