Don’t miss this Michelin-recognized chef’s table in the heart of Chiang Mai
Thailand is famous for its delicious traditional food, cheap in restaurants and even cheaper at the markets. You should definitely go all in on that when you visit. Rustic and local, it’s the very heart of Thai culture. But when you feel like slowing down and savoring something more elevated and refined, look no further than Blackitch Artisan Kitchen in Chiang Mai. They specialize in fresh, seasonal, artisanal ingredients drawn from all over Thailand and expertly prepared with creativity and care.
The restaurant opened in 2014 with only three tables. It has since expanded to seat 16 in their elegant upstairs space – once at noon and twice in the evening. Chef Phanuphol “Black” Bulsuwan releases a new themed tasting menu every three months. Each menu is specifically designed to showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients they have painstakingly sourced from around Thailand.
Holistic Local Artisanal Cuisine
With the intention of promoting food safety in communities, fair trade in the food cycle and the sustainable growth of local economies, the chef and his team have forged relationships with farmers, fishermen, and indigenous groups around the country. This enables them to obtain the finest seasonal and often rare ingredients while allowing their suppliers to share their local wisdom and in turn pass along their knowledge and practices to future generations.
Indeed, this reflects the chef’s own background. Never formally trained, he learned all he knows from his grandmother and the many hours he spent foraging in the local hills as a child. Regarded as a “fermentation master,” he makes his own fish paste, soy sauce and pickles, as evidenced by the many jars scattered around the restaurant’s downstairs space. He also uses this special skill to extend the life of rare or seasonal ingredients.
What was the food like? Let’s get to it!
10th Anniversary Tasting Menu: “Root Rhythm”
12 Courses from the Mountains to the Sea
The special 10th anniversary “Root Rhythm” menu featured ingredients from suppliers all across Thailand. For example, organic vegetables from Mae Ta, organic herbs from Wild Nature Artisan, seasonal fruits from Luang Project and Green Garden, duck from Chiang Mai Muslim Community, and other meats from KRBB – The Boutique Butcher and Groco. Melon from Lampang, cocoa and strawberries from Chiang Mai, tea from Arak Garden, and fish and seafood from Phang Nga, Rayong, Chumphon, Satul and Surat in the south. Wild honey from the forest of Hin Lat Nai in Chiang Rai province. Pale pepper from Trang. Pickled fish from Brother Om, Po Swat.
“Aging and Curing”
We began the dinner with an aged and cured filet of line-caught yellowfin tuna from Phang-nga in the south. It rested in a buttermilk broth, was garnished with leeks, fermented soybean and Trang white peppercorns, then drizzled with shiso oil. It was a fresh, savory delicious bite of food.
The Starters course consisted of three bites: Pumpkin & Pepper | Squid & Coriander Roots | Seafood & Garlic. The Seafood & Garlic utilizes assorted fish depending on freshness and availability, for example, stingray or sardine, served in east coast style with garlic oil and peanut brittle.
The crepe course was sort of like a Thai taco. Composed of smoked tuna and pickles, whipped into a mousse, then garnished with mullet fish roe and a sprig of dill.
There were three tasty items on the skewer – oyster, pork and crab – and they topped it with fragrant cilantro, Vietnamese basil and wild mint.
Clam and Mountain Vegetable Soup was warm and flavorful. The clams were enhanced by a cabbage, kale and taro terrine broth.
Chicken and Mochi, beet, and baby bok choy magic.
Cured duck sourced from the Chiang Mai Muslim Community is combined with okra, noodles, scallions and a fried quail egg to form a deconstructed ramen. Kamobushi – smoked and dried duck – is grated on top of the ramen like bonito flakes. The duck takes six months to cure and dry as hard as a rock before use.
One of our favorite courses. This dish consisted of red fish from the south and a homemade curry, garnished with a sesame cracker. The curry base is made out of lacto-fermented sweet corn (a process similar to pickling) and glutinous rice.
This course consisted of a tiny but mighty beef sandwich. Served alongside were a chilled mold of seasoned butter in the shape of a peanut, pickles and a chili pepper, some tomato/tomatillo/chili sauce, and a pair of gooseberries (physalis). The waitresss instructed us to spread the butter on the top, then add the other condiments as we wished. It was a great mouthful.
The palate cleanser, a cube of fresh melon from Lampang, preceded the heaviest course. It was a welcome bite of tender sweetness.
The entree features the rare Buosomi Doi rice harvested from the mountains of Fang in northern Thailand during a short window and in very limited supply. Its sticky grains have a corn-like taste and texture. It was smoked and steamed, and accompanied by a steamed Ayutthaya river prawn, prawn butter and other seasonings, plus a garnish of cucumber, pickled radish, snow lotus, fried olive and compressed tomato with smoked shoyu. Warm and unctuous, this was another favorite.
Our dessert was a fresh Chiang Mai strawberry filled with mascarpone and and roselle flower (hibiscus) jam. It rested in a strawberry consommé infused with chrysanthemum flowers. It was accompanied by a chocolate brûlée tart topped with wild almond brittle.
After the twelve courses, we were excited to receive another plate and spoon. The parting gift was an ice cream made from perilla seeds with caramel miso and sweet corn mochi, plus black beer sponge from the chef’s first brew of black beer. It was topped with an almond tuile and served with warm black magnolia tea. A delicious way to end an incredible meal.
Summary: Blackitch Artisan Kitchen Tasting Menu
Experiencing elevated Thai cuisine prepared with special ingredients collected from around the country was a wonderful opportunity we’re glad we had while in Chiang Mai. The chef is very talented, creative and passionate about using his skills to showcase the vast wealth of resources his country has to offer while supporting his suppliers and the local economies.