Having heard about the latest health trend to arrive in Bangkok, I schlepped over to a Thonglor mall to see what “broth bars” are really all about – but ended up wowed over by their healthy version of Thai street food.
Genius Bar, located in Eight Thonglor mall on the street and number of the same name, claims to be the first-ever broth bar in Thailand and all of Asia. Found in the likes of Vancouver, New York, Maastricht, and so on, broth bars serve stewed broth, often in a to-go cup, and claim to have health benefits.
“If we want to make a million a month, we would have opened up a bubble tea shop,” the friendly owner owner Chinese-Canadian Darren Liu said. Liu, 33, looks to be 25. He attributes that to not just adequate eight-hour sleep and good regular exercise but healthy organic food, and says he eats his meals at Genius Bar every day.
Liu, a certified health coach is gaga about the various broths at his five-month old bar on Thonglor and will happily explain the benefits of of the three 18-hour-simmered broths on offer: beef, chicken, and mushroom broth, all 135 baht for a small cup, 175 baht for a large.
His beef broth, for example, is made from organic grass-fed beef bones, which makes the soup high in collagen and amino acids. My personal favorite was the vegetarian broth made from five different mushrooms such as shiitake, cordyceps, and agaricus as well as medicinal Chinese herbs such as dong quai, which made the light, slightly medicinal broth
Whether you order vegetarian (150 baht for a small cup), chicken (also 150 baht for a small cup) or beef broth, they are all organic. Beef broth comes from grass-fed cow bones while chicken’s from free-range chicken.
The taste of the chicken broth was too mild for me, and Liu suggested that tumeric, ginger, garlic, and cilantro can be added in to spice up any broth (15 baht).
Vegetables used at Genius Bar all come from a farm owned by his Thai fiancé. For ingredients that can’t be grown or raised at the farm, Liu ordered it from reputable sources to make sure, for example, that grass-fed beef means fully grass-fed beef and not partially.
That’s partly why his beef krapao with fried organic duck egg is surprisingly good. I ordered one (200 baht) and it was one of the best and not oily krapaoI had in a very long time and itself worth visiting for.
Instead of using cheap vegetable oil to cook the dish, Liu’s cook uses beef broth – cooking the beef in its own broth beefs up the flavor, pun intended. Instead of MSG, oyster sauce, or soy sauce, they use extra-virgin olive oil and pink sea salt.
A generous handful of organic holy basil was mixed into the krapao, topped with a fried organic free-range duck egg which is more orange-colored compared to chicken egg and richer in taste. After all, man can’t live on broth alone.
The restaurant, a small glass house-like structure, is often full of regulars, usually expats. Newbies should feel welcome to ask Liu for health tips or for in-depth nutritional info: going to Genius Bar is like visiting a life coach while picking up a healthy lunch.
Get a midday workout in by doing squats to get a discount – one squat for a one-baht discount, capped at 50 squats.
Pro tip: to really get a lecture from Liu, ask him why a vegan diet might not be for you.
Genius Bar is located on the LG floor at Eight Thonglor, Thonglor Soi 8, Sukhumvit 55. It opens daily from 10am to 8pm and is a walkable distance from BTS Thong Lo.
Food was paid by the reviewer except the complimentary beef broth Liu insisted upon.