April 25, 2019

Let’s just be honest, concept stores that have merged food, art, merchandise, music, design, and fashion have always had some form of allure purely based on novelty. But toss another hipster version of a cafe cum art gallery my way, and you might witness me throwing a hissy fit (it’s quite a spectacle really). Along comes Haoma, riding on the winds of change—forget ‘farm-to-table’, Chef Deepanker Khosla builds a dining room right smack in the centre of Sukhumvit, which coincidentally forms the horticulture backbone for his menu provision. Strawberries blossom overhead, sections of grass fill the space as table dividers reinforce the restaurant’s devotion to the subtleties of sustainability in the restaurant business.

Chef Deepanker (“DK”) breaks the ice by blurting out his mint obsessions before picking some black mint off curly tendrils with dexterous efforts in a bid to feed you with pre-dinner snackage. It works; it’s sharp, much like the Maya Rudolph of the comedian world and it keeps your face shut. There’s also Indian borage, lovage, oregano, sorrel, spider mustard, pine nut tarragon and a staggering 37 other species of organic herbs, all of which have been reared to its heyday and guilty of emanating scents that bring to mind spring flings and short pleated skirts.

The farm also boasts a lively family of 500 fish who live in vats and massive tanks beneath stone tiles flanking the horticulture setup. Aquaculture contributing to the self-sustaining system with its seamless integration into a hydroponic environment. You walk off the farm tour, enamoured by the beautiful symbiosis of living factors that coexist within the 380m2 residence turned restaurant. Similarly, you’ll be enthusiastic about the highbrow Neo-Indian cuisine that the kitchen trumpets. Will it live up to this fullness of the foliage as captured in the utopia of Haoma’s gardens? You’ll soon find out.


DK’s revolutionary idea is to fuse the food of his childhood with local flavours. There are galouti kebabs from Lucknow that inspired rich cornet amuse bouches of melt-in-your-mouth mutton with matsutake mushrooms flourished with lemon cream and cilantro from the garden. Followed by engrossing picturesque rectangles of oyster and corn tartar on sun-dried maize crisps. Capped with a fastidious mapping of 40 organic corn kernels frozen in time with yellow daal gelatinised water, you might want to take a quick second to admire its finesse before you slip them into your mouth.

Chef teases the palate with a proverbial afternoon tea snack of pani poori rustled together with hollowed shells of puffed potatoes and tamarind flavoured ‘dirty water’. The juice is a come-hither mix of cumin stems and mango for a quizzical sour assam resemblance. Gungho pairing with the Domaine Zind Humbrecht “Turckheim”Gewurztraminer by head sommelier Vishvas Sidana inserts some profound ginger laced litchi notes into the picture and coaxes the slight spiciness that stems from the tom kha sorbet strewed over the melon terrine.


Tying in with the slightly pagan beliefs of the restaurant, the wine programme spotlights wine producers who adhere to eco-friendly ways of agriculture. Vishvas builds castles in the sky by always pouring a fresh wine as a prequel to the dish. A complex Provence rosé from Clos Cibonne touting a bouquet of fresh peaches paves the way for smoked fish of grilled chicken, but instead, the kitchen ups the ante with the disappearing duck. Piping hot and juicy curry drowns out a squish of duck mousse cemented to the centre of the dish. This forces you to dredge the accompanying mound of sticky rice through its bounteous viscosity, while a sweet venture of Indian spiced duck wing begs to be picked up with your fingers.

A gargantuan rock is towed to your table with a heaving sigh. It’s a fascinating amount of work to present two bites of crispy shrimp heads and tails littered in peanuts and tamarind crumb, very much so like mamee snack we devoured in minuscule packs when we were younger. The pleasures of this dish run deep where nostalgia is concerned, and I dream up mid-afternoon runs to the mamak store on weekday afternoons spare with change we had saved up for orange flavoured ice lollies and spicy rice crispy snacks. Such is the power of food.

At this point on a Friday night, the room is filled up with adventurous wine-swilling groups and curious couples taking refuge from the bustle of the concrete jungle. Shades of warm light and sneaking tendrils combined with mismatched fabrics of oriental nature coalesce, and instead of the dire choice of hitting up commercialised and overcrowded dining establishments, there’s a glint of mysteriousness in the air that attracts the well-heeled and trendy.


The storytelling ensues with a sprawling spread called the Farmers Fuel. It’s a clever inception of the bread course halfway through the degustation and is made relevant with the association of a farmer’s replenishment of energy with breads and dips after a hard day in the fields. Eggplant relish, mango pickle, tomato chutney and home-churned butter make for an irresistible combination that threatens to burst the seams of your dress if relished in larger quantities.

Under the generous pour of Vishvas, you’ll reach a point in the nature trail where you are incapacitated, probably incapable of passing valid judgements on skin-contact whites and funky pet nats. He offers a quick antidote of orange wine. I fell in love.


The Ribolla Gialla 2011 from natural wine pioneer Radikon, Italy has the power to transport you to another place. The first thing that drifts into mind, sun on fresh hay, canning of sticky orange marmalade. This warmth caressing the palate with the adoration of a five-year-old child and you’ll think of crepe suzette right after the blazoning of grand marnier—caramelised sugars and orange mingling. It is the comforting accompaniment of DK’s ‘Me in a bowl’ which doles out the hits with grilled chicken enrobed in rich makhani curry and christened with pickled shallots and cottage cheese. The roti convention is respected here, albeit with flair. A puck of compressed naan in all its toasted crispy glory is served. You mop up the marvellous curry in one fluid gesture and let it slip that he is a wunderkind chef.

The last main echoes a similar tale, illustrating first world problems of a toothless Indian king, hence a quick fix of tender wagyu short ribs that barely require cutlery to consume. A brown onion and korma bone jus adds to the pageantry but tilts the scale in terms of overkill.

I’m not usually one to be bothered with desserts, but when a case of fatal attraction is concerned, I’m all in. Nadia is a happy-never-after tale of DK’s previous love interest; its components of chocolate, wine, berries and roses, a representation of everything she loved. A dead giveaway to the distressing and imminent death of the relationship between her and the ambitious yet grounded young chef. Good riddance and strangely befitting of the final flourish for a meal here.

Haoma has a lot going on for it. They appear to have thought carefully about the proposition—an ode to sustainability hitting all the points for conscious millennial diners. If it’s possible for a restaurant to be both inspiring and enjoyable at the same time, then this really must be the place.

Price: 13 courses for 2590 Baht