In 2023, the wellness trend took a new turn and combined fine dining with the art of living a well-rounded life. What started out as a pop-up in Koh Samui, Luna By Clara finally opened in Bangkok on Narathiwat 10.
“We are merging wellness with the luxury of Clara. The concept does not follow Clara, as in it will not be Italian. At Luna, we shall be using only local produce, only Thai ingredients, which will be interpreted in a contemporary way,” says chef Christian Martena of Clara Bangkok, who is also co-owner of Luna By Clara.
The head chef of Luna By Clara is chef Simone Scarparo, who used to be the sous chef at Clara. “We work closely with the producers and farmers, and every course comes from a different producer from a different province in Thailand,” says chef Scarparo.
Inspired by the original location in a forest, Luna By Clara’s Bangkok location keeps the tropical vibe, complete with thatched roof and a casual atmosphere, minus pink flamingos and a pool. An open kitchen take centrestage, with most tables facing it. “The idea is that we want to bring a little bit of the island vibe to Bangkok, which is why we have all the plants throughout the restaurant,” explains chef Scarparo. The tasting menu is eight courses and there are also five-course menu, both come with optional wine pairing.
“The food is more personal for me. The menu has only local ingredients and each plate is following my travels around the world, offering different kinds of food from the different kitchen. I am collaboration with farms, fishermen and though the menu is innovative kitchen, every dish is rooted in something traditional; it will remind you of something homely, something from your childhood,” explains the chef.
The immersive dining experience is a contemporary interpretation of fresh seasonal produce, culminating in sensory moments. It is important to note that the menu here is not Thai, it simply uses Thai produce and is driven by seafood and vegetables, staying true to the roots of the concept, which originated on Koh Samui. Each dish tells a story, raises awareness of the importance of sustainability and showcases and showcases the quality and flavours of the ingredients.
Begin with Sardenaira, Mekhong dancing shrimp pie, Surat Thani oyster and Foraged mushroom, which is served with a welcome drink of hibiscus and Sichuan pepper kombucha. “I worked in Liguria, Italy when I was young and there we have a focaccia called sardenaira. Here, I’ve taken it a step further and stuffed it with tomato jam from Chiang Mai, marjoram and finished with a Thai anchovy called ‘ching chang’ marinated in Italian style and deep fried. The oysters from Surat Thai are thrown on the barbecue, that is inspired by my childhood in the south of Italy, when we used to cook oysters on charcoal every Sunday. The charcoal-grilled oyster, smoked whey sauce, compressed cucumber and chive oil. The waffle is made with the dancing shrimp, while the last bite is a mushroom taste, with a puree at the bottom, topped with a fermented mushroom chutney, finished with fingerlime and coriander,” explains chef Scarparo.
The “ Stuck In A Rock Hole” is inspired by the chef’s time in Denmark where he “ate the best dish of my life”. “They took the octopus, blanched it in a fermented fish sauce and then put it on a barbecue. I wanted to re-create the same flavour, but using a different idea. You have a slow-cooked baby octopus carpaccio. The dish has a garam sauce made with the unused parts of the octopus and it is left to ferment in 60 degree for six months. We make a sweet and sour chutney and the dish is finished with a housemate bottarga,” says the chef. The DIY or “assemble yourself” dish comes with a rice cracker that is supposed to be used like an smørrebrød or a Danish open-faced sandwich.
While still in the Scandinavian region, chef Scarparo’s “Tribute To A Samui Fisherman Friend” course is inspired by his travels to Norway, where they have the hand-harvested King Scallops, making them one of the most environmentally-friendly seafoods. However, the dish uses Thai scallops which are farmed by a fisherman called Khun Sopko. The scallops are slow-cooked on the barbecue and come with a Nordic dressing, scallop mayo and garnished with shallots and dill.
The first main course of “Gulf Of Siam Gold” comes wrapped in beeswax. And that is all you’re gonna get from me, because I ain’t ruining for you. Dessert is in collaboration with Kad Kakao.