Farmhouse Kitchen Is Ready for Its Close-up

The newest Jack London Square outlet is striving to create “New Generation Thai Food” by translating authentic Thai food into different interpretations.


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Farmhouse Kitchen features what it calls "New Generation Thai food."

Photo by Lori Eanes

Mere steps from boats bobbing gently at their docks, Jack London Square’s lively, friendly Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine opened in July with a buzzworthy party whose fare included bright purple noodles, curry-inspired cocktails, towering Thai iced teas, and plump grubs.

It’s the latest venture for husband-and-wife team Kasem Saengsawang and Iing Chatterjee, whose other restaurants include Daughter Thai Kitchen in Montclair and several in San Francisco, including the Michelin-recommended original Farmhouse Kitchen.

“We are in love with this side of the bay,” Chatterjee said.

Jack London Square’s pier-and-patio ambience “reminds us very much of Thailand,” she said. “Also, people here are diverse, fun, and adventurous about trying new things.”

That’s a plus, because Saengsawang and Chatterjee like to call their fare “New Generation Thai Food,” in which “authentic Thai food is translated into different interpretations, but is still Thai food.”

One trend currently sweeping Thailand is “going back to the roots, bringing back dishes from centuries ago, and making them known again,” Chatterjee said.

That’s what Saengsawang — a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef whose grandmother introduced him to cooking — does with his dazzlingly sky-hued, herb-spiked, nearly-too-pretty-to-eat blue-rice salad, khao yum.

“We try to keep the taste as original as we can” while reinventing certain classic dishes “to make them our own” — utilizing local ingredients such as mock meats from Berkeley’s Tofu Yu, spirits from Alameda’s St. George Spirits and Hangar 1 Vodka, and edible flowers and fresh herbs such as pac peow and makrut lime leaves from the couple’s own Lafayette backyard.

Farmhouse Kitchen’s artful fare competes in Instagrammability with the setting itself: indoor and outdoor seating, vibrantly painted and printed tableware, suspended cloth lampshades, and irrepressibly lush floral touches such as clouds of pink and white faux roses — made from natural and recycled materials by San Francisco-based Pop & Tar Floral Couture — that seem to burst from the walls and ceiling of the restaurant’s back room.

“We call the back room ‘Under the Stars.’ We want to make it feel like you are having dinner somewhere far away in a magical land, in a lush garden,” Chatterjee said.

Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, 336 Water St., Oakland, 510-419-0541, FarmhouseOak.com.

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