MJMK Restaurants, the group behind the hit, two-site, piri piri chicken restaurant Casa do Frango and big-ticket Mexican fine-dining restaurant Kol, is planning to open its third brand in London. While plans seen by Eater in early 2021 indicated the project would be called Chalawan, a Thai restaurant scheduled for 2020 but pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic, MJMK confirmed in August that it would be backing chef and restaurateurs John and Desiree Chantarasak and their brand Anglo Thai.
“John’s half British and half Thai heritage has inspired a dedication to celebrate both the cooking techniques, flavours and culture of Thailand, with the seasonality of produce from the British Isles,” a statement released by the group said in August. “This will be at the heart of the menu and overall concept of the restaurant.”
It seems the plans have evolved through this year, after the document seen by Eater in the winter was described as MJMK’s, founded by Marco Mendes and Jake Kasumov, “mid-premium traditional Thai restaurant.” It will now open in central London in the early part of 2022. The location is not known.
While the document named two chefs, executive chef Thanintorn ‘Noom’ Chantrawan; head chef Nutchakamol ‘Tai’ Songkhramsee, with a “TBC” next to each name, Eater understands that MJMK approached the respected London-based chef John Chantarasak who cooks under the name “Anglo Thai” — which “draws influences from both his Thai and British heritage” — to lead the restaurant in the last 12 months. When approached by Eater for comment in May, Chantarasak said “there have been initial conversations between myself and MJMK Restaurants but nothing has been agreed or finalised concerning name or concept.”
Kasumov subsequently told Eater that he and his partner “have had some initial conversations with John, but nothing - including name or concept - has been agreed or finalised yet.”
“We will be offering a chef-led menu serving uncompromising, classic Thai food,” the document statedd. “Back in June 2019, the team travelled to Thailand sampling the food and exploring Thai culture to gain inspiration for Chalawan. We will be working with a Thai Head Chef and Thai Executive Chef.”
Chantarasak was among the chefs who opened Som Saa, the Thai-influenced, scandal-hit Shoreditch restaurant which grew out of a residency at Climpson’s Arch in Hackney, in 2016. Anglo Thai, which Chantarasak runs with his partner Desiree, has collaborated with the likes of Breddo’s Tacos, Cornerstone, P. Franco, and Newcomer Wines in the last two years; the brand has become closely linked to the voguish low-intervention avant-garde wine movement in the city. In the summer of 2019, the Sunday Times’ Marina O’Loughlin wrote of Anglo Thai that it was “some of the most interesting Thai food I’ve eaten, here or in Thailand… John Chantarasak is one of our most tirelessly curious and talented chefs.” He also appeared on Great British Menu in 2020.
MJMK’s owners operate the bars at Pop Brixton and Vinegar Yard in London Bridge, operations which grew from their background in events and electronic music nights, which still take place under the Boneca umbrella. Eater understands that the group has designs on expanding and diversifying its restaurant portfolio yet further in the coming years.
MJMK did not respond to Eater’s request for comment on the restaurant’s location.
Update: 10 August 2021, 4:40 p.m.: This article was updated to include new details about the plans between MJMK and chef John Chantarasak and the forthcoming Thai restaurant which will open in central London in 2022.