BANGKOK — Sweden-loving Thai chef, Jakkaphong Singhaphrom has headed the kitchen at one of Thailand’s few Swedish restaurants since it first opened.
Now this July, Cajutan Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 18 is turning three. Jakkaphong, who spent five years cooking in Stockholm, has screened every meatball and lingonberry served by the restaurant.
“The charm of Swedish food is how balanced it tastes. A dish might be creamy, but there’s always something sweet and sour to cut through the taste, like lingonberries or pickled beetroot,” the Suecophile chef said. “Just like ajaad [cucumber and shallot relish] and prik naampla [chili in fish sauce] in Thai cuisine.”
Begin your foray into Swedish cuisine with a “räkmacka” (349 baht), a shrimp sandwich made with Greenland prawns whose freshness is obvious. Jakkaphong notes that an easy way to remember the dish is to rhyme it with “ruk maak ka” – Thai for “love it so much.”
If you’re not keen on mayonnaise, go straight for the Swedish meatballs “köttbullar” (199 baht), beef and pork balls with a creamy brown sauce. Any heaviness is cut through by pickles and actual lingonberries (not just a glob of jam).
Worth its price is Beef á la Lindström (239 baht): three generous patties of ground beef and beetroot in red wine sauce served alongside potatoes, with pickled beetroot and parsley butter on the side.
The oven-baked salmon (429 baht) is a large, juicy salmon fillet whose skin remains deliciously crispy. Served on a wooden platter with grilled vegetables framed by piped duchess potatoes, it’s simple and satisfying.
Cajutan is one of the few places in Bangkok to offer fika alongside Swedish desserts. According to the menu, fika is a Swedish tradition of drinking coffee with sweet snacks while chatting to friends that “is as much a part of the working day in Sweden as emailing and fixing the printer. More than just a coffee break, fika is a time to share, connect and relax with colleagues.”
The punch roll (79 baht), a marzipan cylinder wrapped around crushed cinnamon muffin crumbs and covered in chocolate sauce, is worth a try – after all, proper marzipan is not common in Thailand. But the Swedish Daim cake (99 baht) is incredible: a fluffy batter made without flour and egg custard filling topped with melted Daim salted caramel chocolate. Pair the sweets with good espresso (69 baht) and a chatty friend, and you’ve got yourself a fika.
Cajutan’s menu also has plenty of vegetarian options covering international cuisines, such as a seasonal vegetarian pasta (179 baht) or falafel (169 baht). The second floor of Cajutan sells Swedish candies and Scandinavian groceries at reasonable prices – a tube of Mills cod roe caviar is 195 baht.
Owner Bjorn Claesson, 67, explained that Cajutan comes from the Swedish word “kajutan”, a boat with a cabin to eat and sleep in. On top of Cajutan, Claesson has opened restaurants on the coasts of Hua Hin and Gothenburg.
Cajutan occasionally hosts community events such as markets and art exhibitions – like an upcoming charity photo exhibition – and events to mark Scandinavian holidays such as Norwegian National Day on May 17 and Swedish Mother’s Day on May 26. Check their Facebook page to keep up to date.
The restaurant’s next celebration is a Midsommar event on June 21, where traditional Swedish dishes such as smorgasbords, herring and a potato-and-sprats casserole called Jansson’s Temptation will be available in a buffet costing 595 baht per person.
If in the area, strike up a convo with Jakkaphong, 42, about the Stockholm museums he loves the most, or with employee Narin Phrinpprayong, 41, who lived most of his life in Malmö – and be sure to ask manager Nippon Lindquist if he’s enjoying the Thai heat.
Cajutan Swedish Restaurant is open every day from 9am to 11:45pm. It’s located in Soi Sukhumvit 18 between the Rembrandt Hotel and Tacos and Salsa, a 10 minute walk from BTS Asok and MRT Sukhumvit.
This review was based on a hosted visit.