How first-time restaurateur innovative concept became one of Bangkok’s top steakhouse

Top favourite of Thaan Charcoal Cooking, Bangkok
Oh my Supper!! Beef Fried Rice, consist of hanger steak chunks, truffled infused rice and generously topped with black truffles

After opening its doors on April 2018, Thaan Charcoal Cooking quickly made a name for itself in Bangkok with its innovative, stand-alone steakhouse concept. Here, we met with the first time restaurateur, Jian to find out how he set up shop, stay ahead and his learnings from taking a risk introducing a new concept to Bangkok’s highly competitive food scene. Despite an unsuccessful restaurant venture previously (which is now closed) as an investor, Jian shared with us what inspired him to realize his dreams.

Innovative steakhouse, 3 storey shophouse
Picanha (Rump Steak)
Dry Aged Striploin
Rib Eye MB 9+
A5 Ohmi Wagyu Tenderloin
Wagyu Tomahawk
Dry Aged Thai Wagyu Prime Rib
68/6 Sukhumvit 31 Yaek 4, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand

Key Learnings

  1. Believe in your concept. Do not be obliged to meet every request. You have to believe and stand firm in what you think is the right fit for your menu. Going back to Thaan Charcoal Cooking’s concept of being innovative, Thaan introduces lesser-known cuts such as chuck roll, oyster blade, tri-tip. The idea is to encourage conversation between staff and customers. 
  2. Make an effort to take care of your neighbouring residence. Work with other restaurants within your vicinity. Together, you can build a community and an identity for the neighbourhood. 
  3. The price of your offerings needs to match your rent and investment. The work has just begun after your opening. Jian and his team kept fine-tuning the concept consistently to build a viable business. 
  4. Thaan Charcoal Cooking’s values: 

HONESTY  Understand customer’s needs and offering the right product. 

QUALITY  When you keep your menu simple, the quality of raw materials have to be good. 

CASUAL  Thaan offers a friendly and comfortable, but professionally run environment for customers.

In Bangkok, there are two extremes – either the hotel steakhouses or mass-market restaurants. What is your concept? 

One of a kind. No other steakhouses serves our type of menu. We do not replicate. We want to give customers something to talk about.  There is no point for us fighting with the big boys. We fall in between the hotel steak houses and mainstream folks like Arnos. We are an independent steakhouse in a casual environment. Our target is mid to high end market. 

Being an independent steakhouse, we do not have the scale. Focusing on quality is our number one priority.

As a new concept to the market, you need to take a risk. You may be offering something that people might not like. How do you decide what to put in the menu? 

I think it is believing. You have to believe and stand firm in what you think is right. Don’t stray away from what you want to do. Of course, we cannot satisfy everyone. I would be happy if  7 out of 10 people love our food. That is a good indication for us. 

Thaan Charcoal Cooking is your first hands-on restaurant opening. What have you learned? 

The price of your offerings need to match your rent and investment

In the beginning, the concept was about value and affordable food. In the end, we spend more than we estimated. It was an open kitchen concept, so it has to leave an impression as it is the first view when people walk into Thaan. I want everything to be of good quality. So we leveled up our offering to focus on good quality ingredients instead. 

Before starting your construction…

Plan your menu and kitchen with profit and loss in mind. More often than not, we always have grand ideas but be realistic when it comes down to the numbers. 

Point of entry – the price you are offering and products you deliver need to match your rent and investment. 

Sourcing for suppliers

It was a challenge as we were unknown. It was hard. We pay by cash, and it took us six months to have some credit. I find that going to food and trade fairs help to get to know your suppliers and their sources. We removed prawns not because of the recipe, but the source is inconsistent. We decided to stop until we can get a consistently good supply source. 

Unexpected circumstances

We made a mistake with the kitchen hood. We had no experience in working with Josper oven. Our open kitchen was stuffy, noisy, and smokey all the time. It was not a pleasant experience. We had to close Thaan for two weeks for the installation of a new hood system and cost us an extra 0.5 million THB. 

What are the key issues you encounter as a first-time restaurateur? 

I have cancellation every day. I have no shows almost 3-4 times a week. We called, and no one answered… A no show of party of 6 is 30% of my restaurant capacity. For a small business like us, this is a significant issue. People take bookings for granted. Two weeks ago, we started a policy where reservations for six would need to place deposits. We have no choice. We are trying to mitigate no shows as much as possible. 

Being new to the market, what are your marketing strategies for Thaan? 

Social media. We invest primarily on Facebook and Instagram. I aim to get other people’s attention. You need to know what people like. Steaks are bold statements, and I’ll be sure to give you a good one!

Chuck roll, oyster blade, tri-tip – cuts that will encourage conversation between our staff and customers. The idea is to encourage customers to explore, apart from the standard meat cuts 

Small Plate, Thaan Charcoal Cooking
A beautiful medley of A4 Beef Sukiyaki, soy sauce, cured Egg Yolk. Definitely not for the faint-hearted


How long did it take from construction to opening? 

We started renovation in October 2017. It only took 2.5 months. We could have started operation in January 2018, but I was stopped by the district. The neighbouring residences were concerned with the congestion another new restaurant will make. 

It wasn’t something I was expected in handling a restaurant opening. We managed to resolve the issue and work closely with the neighbourhood. I learned that collectively, restaurants could build up a community. 

Chefs having a moment at Thaan Charcoal Cooking
Chefs Thitinan Suriwong (far left) and Nattha Buain (far right), the pioneering chefs of Thaan Charcoal Cooking.

What are Thaan Charcoal Cooking’s values 

HONESTY We do not suggest the most expensive cuts to customers. We first understand the customer’s needs before offering the right product. 

For our wine, we are charging at least 10% to 20% less than hotels. Our margins are lower, whether it is the regular or expensive range. We want to encourage customers to enjoy good wine and food together. 

QUALITY When you keep your menu simple, the quality of raw materials have to be good.

CASUAL We offer a friendly and comfortable, but professionally run environment for our customers. 

What is next for Thaan Charcoal Cooking? 

We plan to open up the second floor, focusing on wine and cocktails, with a good range of premium liquor and wine range. Organic wine will be available too. Targeting to open end of 2019.  Find out more here for their latest updates. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Words and photography by Theri Burhan.






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