Bringing a new Burger to BangkokWritten by Jane Littlefair
Three childhood friends have joined hands to start a burger eatery on a mission — to revolutionise Bangkok’s image of burgers as a fast food.
When it comes to running a burger joint, the restaurateurs of Chunky 23 have one piece of advice: do it from your heart or don’t do it at all. With backgrounds in finance and no previous industry experience, their mission to revolutionise Bangkok’s fast food industry is one rooted in the old adage that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.
Everything changes quickly in Thailand’s capital and the food scene is no exception. With so many restaurants opening in nearly every corner of the city, Bangkok is not short on new places to check out. However, that didn’t stop the three childhood friends behind Chunky 23, the city’s latest buzzing burger joint, from getting in on the game. Instead, they decided to join the fray but break the mould with a restaurant that took the city’s concept of fast food and delivered it with a difference. “The concept behind Chunky 23 is to revolutionise the fast-food industry by giving burgers a makeover,” explains their mysterious founder (who prefers to remain anonymous.) “We don’t create artery-clogging burgers—everything is made with honest homemade recipes and ingredients are sourced from local suppliers.”
The restaurant is headed up by a team put together by the 3 founders that includes several experts including an executive chef, Eakkachai Saengkardsanee, a Dusit Thani College graduate who was awarded the prestigious THAIFEX World of Food Asia prize for best junior chef in 2014. Each recipe goes through careful consideration and almost all the restaurant’s produce is sourced from local suppliers who grow vegetables using hydroponic methods inside a greenhouse, meaning everything is organic with no preservatives. All of their meat comes from Australia. The cosy, no thrills restaurant’s menu shifts regularly, with expected favourites such as their all-American Chunky Beef burger found alongside other, more unusual fare like a brunch-inspired Benedict Burger and a croque-monsieur derivative, the Holy Cheese Burger – all served in the restaurant’s already legendary homemade brioche buns.
Just like it’s food, Chunky 23’s interiors reflect the venture’s minimalistic business approach. Located on the busy streets of Sukhumvit Soi 23 that’s filled with hoardes of tourists, street vendors and restaurants, one of the first things you notice on arrival is the clean and functional design fitted with industrial style windows and tasteful artwork hung on white brick walls across two floors. The lively space serves as an area where modernity meets a home-styled kitchen. “We want Chunky 23 to be a place where people can come and escape from the busy city outside,” the owner expresses. It is also a place changing perceptions, as they seek to prove that fast food can be responsible – both in terms of its sourcing and it’s nutritional value, too.
Despite imminent threats posed by competitors, the restaurateurs have no plans for expansion. There is opportunity in this city, but Chunky 23 favour the small-scale approach. As the man in charge explains of their whole ethos, “If we do what everyone else is doing, then why did we start this business in the first place.”
Address: 110/1 Soi Sukhumvit 23, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Telephone: +66 91 742 4094