A renovated family compound in downtown Bangkok, Thailand, houses a house museum, a gift shop, and two restaurants, one serving Thai cuisine, another serving Western comfort food. Will they find favour with out-of-town foodies from Hong Kong?
Lert Sreshthaputa (1872 – 1945) was a prominent developer, investor, and environmentalist. He was also known as Phraya Bhakdi Noraset or, simply, Nai Lert. King Rama VI bestowed upon him the title Beloved Millionaire.
When Lert passed away, he left behind an impressive legacy that included office buildings, retail centres, a hotel, and a beautiful home, which comprises two houses that are connected by a large balcony. It is set amid beautifully landscaped tropical gardens.
Three generations of the Nai Lert family lived in the house until 2012, when it decided to convert the house from a private residence into a public museum.
Following a nearly three-year restoration project, the graceful structure was reopened as Nai Lert Heritage Home in 2015 in celebration of its 100th anniversary. Its pillars, teak floors, and century old trees were preserved.
What is fascinating is how contemporary the traditional Thai structure looks and feels, which is testament to the timeless beauty of traditional Thai design.
The open-air home houses a house museum showcasing Nai Lert’s personal and commercial life; a store selling stationery, souvenirs, gardening products, books, paintings, and similar products; and two restaurants.
Ma Maison serves Thai cuisine. Lady L Garden Bistro serves Western comfort food with mostly American and French accents.
I was lucky enough to have lunch at both of the restaurants during a press trip to Bangkok, which was sponsored by the Country Development Group.
Despite to French name, Ma Maison is a Thai restaurant serving Thai cuisine. But the eatery does have a French provenance.
The restaurant’s processor, the eponymous Ma Maison, opened in 1983 at another location as a fine dining French restaurant.
In its present incarnation, the restaurant serves an exclusively Thai menu based on time-honoured family recipes.
Pictured above, clockwise from lower left: Kwanrudee Maneewongwatthana of Country Group Development, David Johnson of Delivering Asia Communications, Perry Yip of Ming Pao Newspapers, Dennis Lee of Perspective Limited, and Wipada Monthongtiam of Country Group Development.
Thai-based international real estate developer Country Group Development invited me, two other Hong Kong-based journalists, and a local public relations representative to have lunch at Ma Maison.
With blog posts or magazine articles to write, we were as interested in taking photos of the food as in tasting it.
The menu runs from appetizers, salads, soups, and dips to such main courses as curries, stir-friend dishes, grilled dishes, noodles, and vegetables, served with a choice of jasmine rice and brown rice.
Several mouth-watering Thai desserts are also on offer.
Pictured above: Chef Somnate Sukaphuwong (centre) with two servers.
Other guests dining at Ma Maison included Dennis Lee, Managing Editor, Digital and Features, Perspective Limited, and Perry Yip, Senior Reporter (Business News), Ming Pao Newspapers Limited, both of Hong Kong.
David Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Delivery Asia Communications, was also in attendance. David lives in Bangkok.
Our hosts were Kwanrudee Maneewongwatthana and Wipada Monthongtian of Country Group Development.
So what did we think about our experience having lunch at Ma Maison? The verdict follows …
The surroundings were stunning, the service was excellent, and the food was delicious, but I’ve come to expect delicious food when dining out in Bangkok.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was to discover that we were dining in a heritage structure because the building itself and the gardens that surround it had a very contemporary feel.
It was like a modern piece of architecture that had been inspired by traditional architectural elements rather than a traditional structure that had been re-purposed to a new use.
I will definitely have to return on my next visit to Bangkok and visit the house museum to learn more about this very special place – and the man that had it built. And hat’s off to his very special family that allowed it to be transitioned from private to public use.
I’m dying to see pictures of the building that were taken before its very stylish renovation.
I found Ma Maison’s decoration romantic, food nice and wine fanatic.
Ma Maison -Nai Lert Park Heritage House, 4 Soi Somkid,m Phloen Chit Road, Bangok, Thailand. Telephone: 02-655-4773.
Nai Lert Park Heritage House. Telephone: 66 2 253 0123
The restaurant is within walking distance of the Phloen Chit BTS station.
Our lunch was hosted by Country Group Development