This review took place in November 2019 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
During Soi 11’s resurgence last year, only one new restaurant truly looked set to combat the street’s hellscape reputation. Meaning “east” in Thai—a nod to its menu—Burapa brought class, au courant design and the cachet of being linked to the already successful Sri Trat to a neighborhood better known for seedy bars and clubs.
With its steely blue paint job and bright Art Deco signage, Burapa sure looks nicer than anything you’d expect in these parts. Inside, all three floors of the narrow shophouse-turned-restaurant resemble Eastern and Oriental Express carriages—think button-back leather chairs, brass rails, black marble tables, velvet drapes and warm lighting with a soundtrack of early- to mid-century jazz.
On our last visit, almost every table was booked from 7pm onward, little silver placards denoting reservations everyone arrived late for—a place this handsome attracts that special layer of society that lives by its own rules, reservations be damned. But those same late-arriving, Lexus-driving crowds also recognize excellent Thai food, and that’s what you’re in for here.
While Sri Trat serves purely eastern Thai dishes, Burapa expands its boundaries and dabbles in northeastern Thai cuisine. Almost everything we ordered from the novella-sized menu hit the mark. Sea bass larb with cardamom shoots, chili and dill (B220)? Amazing. Banana flower salad with perfectly cooked shrimp (B220), and meaty tiger prawns served in fish sauce with chili and finely sliced garlic (B300)? Even better.
Beyond being beautifully prepared, the dishes come in portions that don’t require you to order half the menu to feel satisfied. The pile of Supanniga-rivaling cabbage stir-fried with fish sauce (B150) is a meal in itself. Dip into the umami-packed red curry with crab meat, crab roe and tender pumpkin (B300), and you’ll miraculously draw up spoonful after spoonful of crab. The only letdowns are the cocktails. The Kham Khong (Mekhong, saffron port wine, Benedictine, Licor 43, amaro; B320) is watered-down and bland. The Salacca Fizz (butterfly pea flower- and sala-infused Tanqueray, citrus, eggwhite, cream, thyme; B340) might be a stronger effort, but its aroma has us thinking Bath & Body Works.
As for the service, don’t expect much help selecting dishes. The wait staff is all smiles, but you’re on your own when it comes to making sense of that massive menu. Still, with such full-flavored food, you don’t really need their help anyway. Come in a group, pick something from every section and the only problem you’ll have is figuring out who gets to bring home the leftovers.