Bangkok Post published on February 12, 2016 written by Simon

The brainchild of one of the big banking families, Chatrium Collection brings Thai highbrow values to hospitality enterprises in its own inimitable style.

And as the brand expands – so far four hotels and a serviced residence in Bangkok, a hotel in Yangon – it is bringing fresh perspectives to entrenched concepts.

Take the uber chic streetside “metro loft” that is Metta Eatery & Bar for example. The only restaurant in the family firm’s new tourist-class brand’s first iteration, Maitria Hotel Sukhumvit 18, its menu is mostly identical to that of any mainstream Thai eatery and yet the actual dining is delectably differentiated.

That is partly because, like any affluent entrepreneur’s pet project it reflects the concerned individuals’ highly-groomed taste. The other reason is that they’ve corralled a head chef with doppelganger vision.

Sarawut Im-Sup is a consummate master of Thai traditional recipes, having perfected a distinctive style over 20 years at a 5-star Bangkok hotel, which he has, in turn, showcased internationally to hearty approbation.

A confident man with smiling eyes, Sarawut doesn’t give much away, preferring to keep his sumptuous sauce recipes secret. But he holds nothing back in delivering delectable dining experiences fit for a tycoon’s table.

Some might scoff at paying upwards of 200 baht for pad Thai or somtam, even with “a new twist of Thai cuisine”, but the portions are big enough for 2-4, depending on how many dishes you order, the ingredients are premium and the execution finely detailed and lavish.

Metta, meaning ‘happiness’ in Sanskrit, is the perfect name for this trendy rendezvous. Charmingly designed by VNP Co interior design, the long space somehow feels integral to this still-quaint neighbourhood. Floor-to-ceiling glass runs along the outside. Beyond is a terrace with just enough greenery for discretion while still able to ogle the colourful procession.

Design-wise, vintage Thai signatures – orangey filament lights, filigreed wall panels and decorative crafts in illuminated recesses –  are fused with smooth lines and modern chic. A fine long-table of paduak wood seating up to 20 takes squats on chateau-style chequered flooring. Simple wooden dining tables are arranged opposite sunlight-illuminated lounge chair groupings.

Different sections of the menu are labelled according to mood. “Chill” appetizers or drinks snacks range chicken in pandan leaves to fish cakes/cucumber & peanut sauce.

“Together” features a delectable “Papaya Salad with Seafood”. More a mains than a side, call it somtam on steroids: tender grilled prawn and squid over nutty papaya salad with a superb sauce and pockets of veg wrapped in rice pancakes.

“Unwind” includes all-prime Tom Yum Goong with orinji mushroom afloat in an unimpeachable spicy-sour broth.

“Share” denotes entrees, ranging steamed whole seabass/chilli & lime sauce to sumptuous Massaman chicken or exceptionally tender, flavoursome and generous beef curry with rotis and sour sauce.

“Indulge” offers arguably the ultimate “Pad Thai” wrapped in lacy egg nest with prime prawn. The dish arrives ready-sauced and seasoned except for extra chillies, peanut and veggies.

“Taste” offers Western selections, from soups & salads to fish ‘n’ chips and grilled chicken.  “Try” denotes pork, chicken, sirloin and sea bass steak plates with sauces and sides. Three Italian dishes are headed “Chat”.

“Enjoy” includes an ambrosial boiled bananas in coconut milk.

Featured freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juices and non-alcoholic cocktails range Metta Punch to Tom Yam Mohito. With full wine bar service, there are grownup cocktails too, of course.

Call it authentic Thai food with a modern twist or home-style cooking with international flair. Or just enjoy.

Open daily 6 a.m. -12 p.m. rsvn.maitria@chatrium.com or www.chatrium.com