BANGKOK — Imagine Mexican flavours meet kanom tokyo, a small griddled crepe that is the snack of Thai childhoods – and costs only 40 baht.
Tokyo Hot, newly open since the end of April, is a tiny Charoenkrung shop that offers just that: kanom tokyo with both sweet and savory fillings, including a taco-inspired rendition.
Kanom tokyo sold from side street carts are usually filled with low-grade sausage, quail eggs and a dash of meat, or pandan sangkhaya for sweet-tooths. Tokyo Hot’s are mega-sized and tap into flavours from around the world.
“Tacos are such an international food now. And I think kanom tokyo could be as well, since they can come with all kinds of fillings from around the world, sweet or salty,” co-owner Napat “Na” Vatanakuljaras, 26, said. “I love them personally because it’s a food that brings back childhood memories. Thai kids always get it as an after-school snack.”
On a recent visit, only Napat had time to peel away from the kitchen for a quick chat. Co-owner Adisak “Jued” Chocksongsaneg, 28, was busy overseeing as many as a dozen kanom on a grill to keep up with hungry lunchtime queues.
According to Na, it’s best to try savory kanom tokyo before moving on to sweet. Start off with spicy mala chicken (30 baht) – not so different from the mala stall at your favorite market — or go for the pork taco. Only tortilla or hard-shell purists will object to tasting taco fillings cased in a slightly-sweet, hot-griddled crepe – especially for 40 baht, when three crepes can come up to more than 350 baht in Thonglor. A third option is krapao pork with egg (30 baht) — a riceless version of the dish in wrap form.
Desserts include kaya filling with salted egg, whose contrasting flavors delight at 15 baht. Coconut kaya alone is a steal at 10 baht. As for drinks, a glass of bael juice is 20 baht.
Na and Jued originally wanted to open a taco restaurant but were unable to find a fresh tortilla source. So they turned to the Thai childhood favorite as a fusion alternative. It’s ingenuity that fits the history of kanom tokyo: despite the name, kanom tokyo are a Thai invention. Legend has it that a vendor created them by adapting imported Japanese dorayaki snacks.
Tokyo Hot is still working out its kinks – there can be queues – and finalising its menu. Soon there will be tom yum filling, as well as sides including barbecue chicken skewers, baked potatoes and coleslaw.
Na pointed out that all the available fillings come from “tropical” cuisines – Mexican, southern Chinese, Thai.
“Even when it’s hot there, or here, we’re still fresh and active. I want the mood of Tokyo Hot to be the same,” Na said.
Tokyo Hot is open every day from 1pm to 8pm, except Sundays and Thursdays, at Charoenkrung Soi 24. We recommend stopping by after visiting the “From Monet to Kandinsky” exhibition at River City, a short walk down the soi.
This review was based on a hosted visit.