Posted: Aug 16 2014
Rooftop bars… Bangkok is full of them and for good reason. Who doesn’t love sipping a sumptuous cocktail while watching the sun set over the hundreds of skyscrapers that make up the Bangkok skyline? To make it easier for the short-term visitor, we’ve picked our favorite: Above Eleven. It’s conveniently located on soi 11 (right opposite of our soi 8), charmingly decorated in a ‘faux park style’ and has several floors with slightly different vibes. Located at 105 meters height, Above Eleven offers an impressive view of downtown Bangkok. The restaurant serves Japanese/Peruvian fusion food. To find out more, we sat down with head chef Omar Frank Maruy.
Where are you from?
I’m from Peru but lived in Toronto for six years. When I got back to Peru I worked for Astrid & Gastón and a few other places, really learning Peruvian food, before opening my own restaurant Nikko in Lima.
How did you end up in Bangkok?
The owner of Above Eleven is married to a Peruvian girl and he tasted the food there. In the States, there’s a trend for Latin cuisine and as he wanted to bring something new to Bangkok, he settled on Peruvian food. We had a friend in common, so he convinced me to come out here when Above Eleven opened about two years ago. The owner had lived in New York and wanted to bring a bit of Central Park here, so that’s what inspired the park feeling, with grass, trees and wicker chairs. At opening it was just one floor, but now we’ve expanded to three.
Tell us about Above Eleven’s food concept.
To understand the food, you need to think about Peru’s history. When the Spanish arrived, they brought their food culture, but Peru was also the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic ties with Japan, leading to a lot of Japanese immigration. They brought a distinctly different cuisine and all the influences have melted together to make Peruvian food a fusion of many influences. My mother’s side is Japanese, so I’ve focused on the Japanese heritage, a food style we call Nikkei. Peru is a huge country, where all sorts of crops have been grown for generations. Using local ingredients is very popular there and I try to do the same here.
In our cooking we use a lot of chili and lime, similar to Thai ingredients, but chili without the heat as we take the seeds out. In Peru, we don’t use ketchup, everyone makes their own mild chili sauce. Everything is so spicy here, I don’t know how they eat it.
What would you recommend from the menu?
Our signature dish is cebiche, which is the national dish of Peru. We’re the only place in Bangkok that serves it. It’s sea bass served in a soup flavored with chili and lime. Traditionally we’d marinate the fish for eight hours, but when the Japanese came with their raw fish traditions, Peruvians started serving cebiche straight away. The Above Eleven version is served with sweet potato to balance out the acidity and crispy calamari for added texture. Cebiche is one of those things you have to taste, in the same category as poutine or pad thai. You just have to.
The other recommendation is beef heart anticuchos, traditional Peruvian charcoal-grilled skewers, served with several chili sauces. This is an African tradition, owing from the slaves brought by the Spanish. They would only be given the insides of animals, but ended up making beautiful dishes. People think beef heart must be tough, but it’s actually the leanest muscle. The word anticucho stems from the Incan language and essentially means ‘cut meat’. In Peru it is a very popular dish, often sold by street vendors.
What was your favorite day in Above Eleven?
The New Year’s parties. We throw a big party with a special set menu full of exclusive ingredients. We have been fully booked and it’s fun cooking the specials. The mood is great and it’s a beautiful view of the fireworks. After the dinner, we open to lots of people joining the celebrations.
Other than that, what’s the best day to visit?
We have live bands on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday is Latin night, with salsa dancing and lots of people having fun. Thursday jazz night is great too. Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest, with good DJs. Lots of people come after work to watch the sunset between 6-7, having some drinks and dinner, relaxing while sharing a few dishes. Then later you get more of a party atmosphere.
What’s your favorite part of the view from up here?
Looking south, along the busy soi 11, you actually see the river. You can see it from the washroom, which is pretty cool.
Any other spots in Bangkok to recommend?
My girlfriend and I eat a lot of Thai food. We really like Baan Ying. For sushi we go to Aji in Big C Ekkamai. It’s good, classic Japanese.
Enjoy the sunset with a bottle of wine. If the night progresses that way, you’re right next to the flourishing nightlife of soi 11. Oh, and no sandals or ripped trousers for men, so come and get a fresh outfit from Tailor On Ten first!
Above Eleven is located on the 33rd floor of the Fraser Suites. Walk down soi 11 until the road turns. Once you’re through the bend, it’s almost directly on your right. Go through the Fraser Suites driveway to the back of the building and you’ll find the direct elevator.
38/8 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Phone: 083 542 1111