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New SF Thai restaurant Hed11 serves an 11-course tasting menu – San Francisco Chronicle

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The Thai style spicy oyster served at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.

The Thai style spicy oyster served at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

A chef with experience at Michelin-starred restaurants in Thailand will soon serve the longest Thai tasting menu in the Bay Area at an ambitious new San Francisco restaurant.

Hed 11 at the Kimpton Hotel Enso, located at 1800 Sutter St. in Japantown, will go beyond the ubiquitous a la carte pad thai and green curry. Instead, it will offer a seasonal 11-course dinner tasting menu ($169) with diverse regional dishes that “are hard to find even in Bangkok,” according to owner Billie Wannajaro. The restaurant, opening for dinner on May 3, is the second from Wannajaro.Last year, she launched more casual Hed VeryThai in the Financial District, which the Chronicle ranked among San Francisco’s best affordable restaurants

Thai native chef Piriya “Saint” Boonprasarn, an alum of Michelin-starred Bangkok restaurants Bo.Lan and Saawaan, is developing the tasting menus, which will change seasonally. Boonprasarn has been testing dishes at HedVeryThai, developing themes like an all-seafood tasting menu and another that shines a spotlight on southern Thai dishes. Boonprasarn has also better acquainted himself with purveyors at local farmers markets over the last year to plan for and test future tasting menus.

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It took months of development to launch the menu, which Wannajaro calls a “culinary tour” through Thailand’s diverse and rugged landscape. Boonprasarn and Wannajaro tested the concept at a preview dinner at the FiDi restaurant earlier this year; A positive reception to the dishes was confirmation they were on the right track, they said. 

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Head chef Piriya “Saint” Boonprasarn in the dining room at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024. (right) The Grilled Hokkaido scalllop coconut curry noodle dish served at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

Despite enviable access to high-quality meat and produce in the Bay Area, some ingredients will have to be imported. Wannajaro said the restaurant will import a specific type of Chinese shrimp paste and spices for house curries. Most vitally, chiles from Thailand will be imported.

“It’s important to get the real Thai taste,” Wannajaro said. The handcrafted tableware is also imported from the Lampang province in northern Thailand. 

The tasting menu on opening day will begin with an oyster dressed with herbs, green Thai chiles and whiskey infused with herbs in-house. This item is inspired by a popular preparation in Southern Thailand, where Wannajaro is originally from. Other items will include rice noodles and Hokkaido scallops in coconut curry, as well as a fried shrimp dish served in golden cups — a recipe inspired by the Thai royal family, Wannajaro said.

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The middle courses, from about the fourth to the ninth dish, will be the restaurant’s take on khao gaeng — casual Thai meals made up of stews and curries accompanied by a bowl filled with three types of rice. Expect a southern-style curry with young banana and chicken; spicy mango salad with catfish and a grilled wagyu steak with a spicy-tart jaew sauce to cut through the beef’s richness.

The Thai custard cheesecake served at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.

The Thai custard cheesecake served at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

The menu will close with sweets: fruits in house syrup and a Thai custard cheesecake with berries and fried onion. 

While the eclectic tasting menus will be the main attraction, the restaurant is planning to offer less elaborate lunch starting at 11 a.m. Wannajaro said the midday menu can include a la carte khao gaeng meal sets like the ones at Hed VeryThai. Offerings at the downtown restaurant often change, but can include chicken in massaman curry, sweet butternut squash with Thai basil or caramelized pork belly with pineapple. These come with a light tom yum soup loaded with mushrooms and a bowl filled with three colors of rice, similar to the dinner tasting menu. Because the restaurant is located inside the Kimpton Hotel Enso, management requires the restaurant to offer breakfast, which will lean traditionally American and western with offerings like egg dishes, sandwiches and coffee.

The restaurant was originally scheduled to open in late March, in time for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that takes place each spring in Japantown, but was delayed. It takes over the longtime place of beloved shabu shabu restaurant Mum’s, which operated for 40 years and earned a Legacy Business designation from the city. The restaurant also joins another high-end Thai restaurant nearby, Michelin-starred Nari from chef Pim Techamuanvivit, which offers an a la carte menu as well as a “chef’s pick” menu. 

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Head chef Piriya “Saint” Boonprasarn preparing the Grilled Hokkaido scalllop coconut curry noodle dish at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024. (right)The Smoked dry squish soup with grilled mushroom served at the new Hed 11 Thai restaurant opening at the Kimpton Hotel Enso in San Francisco, on Thursday, April 25, 2024.Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

Once it opens, Hed 11 will accommodate 49 seated diners in a space decorated with dark tones and tropical flair. Beer, wine and Thai inspired cocktails will be available.

Hed 11. Opening May 3. 1800 Sutter St., San Francisco.  Dinner 5-10 p.m., last seating at 9  p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. instagram.com/hed_eleven

Reach Mario Cortez: [email protected]

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