Brunch at Ocken
Other than hotel buffets, half a decade ago it was tough to find a decent brunch in Bangkok. That all changed when Roast and its hip partner Roots Coffee arrived on the scene, with Roast starting up casual all-day brunch service over on Thonglor. Paired with gourmet coffee and a comfy hipster joint hangout, it was a real winner, and launched a whole trend of Bangkok breakfast nooks. Now, the folks behind Roast and Roots have taken things a step further, opening up Ocken, which features fine-dining brunch on the weekend, as well as gourmet dinners throughout the week.
I recently had the chance to stop in for the weekend brunch and wasn’t disappointed. The sleek restaurant is set at street level in the stylish Bhiraj Tower on Sathorn Road, and sits behind a long hedge just outside of the Surasak BTS station, making for ultra-convenient access. Inside, soft tones, wooden tables, and dim mood lighting welcome you, as a bevy of apron-clad bakers, cooks, and other servers scurry around the stylishly designed open kitchen, busy mixing, baking, and putting together a wide array of unique brunch delights.
The brunch menu here is separated into sections. Naturally, “first things first” leads the way, divided between sharing platters for the table as well as small individual bites which are labelled “for me.” My partner and I started with the spreads platter, which featured Middle Eastern favorites hummus, baba ghanouj, and tzatziki spreads, served with garlic naan bread fresh out of the oven, and we also opted for an OcMuffin, in which an English muffin was stuffed with a fennel sausage patty, American cheese, and folded chive omelet. Both were stylishly presented, tasty, and of course immediately Instagram-worthy.
The chefs here have created an eclectic brunch menu that is inspired by their world travels and personal brunch favorites, and while Roast might be known for its comfort dishes like pancakes and waffles, Ocken heads into more serious, complex, and refined terrain.
Take the Cheeky Pho Rice on the main brunch section of the menu. The bowl comes with boiled rice, pretty much akin to a Thai khao tom rice soup, which is a popular breakfast staple in Thailand, but here it is made with fine beef cheeks, ribeye, herbs, and genmai-infused Japanese rice. It draws from both Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines, yet is also firmly Thai, and comes served with both spicy and Hoisin sauce options.
Another brunch main which is a real delicacy is the omelet with melted brie, in which your standard omelet is turned into a real tongue tingler by adding sautéed kale, Mornay sauce, and decadent brie to the mix. Other mains include grilled harissa-marinated prawns with zucchini and smoked yoghurt, and spinach spaghetti served up with bacon, clams, basil, and sous vide egg yolk.
While the name Ocken might sound a bit Scandinavian (and certainly goes with the rather Nordic look and feel to the restaurant), it actually comes from something far more mundane. When the founders here put together their first dinner menu, they featured their two favorite foods, octopus and chicken, and thus Ocken was born! At any rate, this combining of names parallels the idea of combining cultures, travels, and cuisines, which is what the brunch spot sets out to do, hopefully luring a crowd just as diverse as the menu.
There is also a bakery section on the menu, offering sweet-tooth addicts glorious indulgences such as chocolate mascarpone crepe cake with fresh blackberries, cashew toffee, and hot fudge sauce. We were already sated by the time this option rolled around, but having been to Hanoi before, I couldn’t help but to have to try the Hanoi egg coffee, something that in Vietnam is known as ca phe trung, in which creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam is perched on dense Vietnamese coffee.
Here at Ocken they combine knockout Roots cold brew coffee with coffee crumble, egg yolk foam, and espresso powder, and this was by far our favorite item of the morning, both to devour and to photograph. The coffee at Ocken, served up by the new Roots café right next door, is probably the best in town, and the bold house blend here is served as an endless cup, which will certainly jolt start your morning. You can also opt for alcohol with your leisurely brunch, as there are craft beers and fine wines by the glass or bottle. Even better are the variety of creative brunch cocktails the chefs’ team has created, from the Un-bloody Mary (tomato water, vodka, pickle juice and vermouth) to the Bellini, made with peach puree and Cava Spanish sparkling wine.
If you’re looking for a convenient, comfy and chic spot to while away a slow weekend morning over good food and company, head over to Ocken to do a bit of culinary traveling.
Bhiraj Tower at Sathorn, South Sathorn Rd.
Tel. 02 091 6174
Open for brunch 10:30am-2:30pm Sat and Sun
and dinner 6pm-midnight Tues to Sun.