Stocked with fresh produce and Thai-imported goods, Jarern Chai’s cavernous, light-filled store is the perfect place to pick up healthy, nourishing and medicinal Asian groceries.
Jarern Chai (the name pays homage to the traditional mum-and-pop grocers of Thailand), demystifies traditional Thai grocers for non-Thai patrons, but will be familiar to the Thai people who shop there. Inside, it houses Boon cafe.
Palisa Anderson, Jarern Chai’s director, insists that Boon Cafe isn’t your typical “fusion food”, despite serving burgers, sandwiches and pasta. Boon doesn’t mix elements of Thai and western cuisine – it recreates the whole thing naturally, like they always belonged together.
“Food has a real medicinal purpose in Thailand,” says Anderson. “That’s why Thai people aren’t all about vitamins. It’s in the food.” The morning starts with cold-pressed juices, made on a daily rotation, with a turmeric shot and garnished with pennywort. The breakfast menu offers traditional congee, Thai egg dishes and a selection of toasts. There is crab congee with shiitake mushrooms and kai gatah (pan baked eggs with smoked fish sausage) and fig and walnut toast with mascarpone and jam.
Boon’s sandwiches and rice bowls are based on Thai flavours and show the team’s devotion to creating things from scratch. Everything from the cashew butter in the chicken cashew sandwich, to the rustic chilli relish and mayo on the crab-and-prawn-cake burger are all made in house. Sai ouah kamut pasta uses Boon’s homemade, spicy-Thai-herb sausage.
When the sun sets it’s all about Isaan cuisine from north-eastern Thailand. An array of curries, soups and warm salads are on offer, including tub gai yaang (chicken liver skewers), dtom haeng (lemongrass broiled pork offal), larbp gai (spicy minced chicken) and several takes on som dtum (green papaya salad).