An owner and developer of a Michelin-rated restaurant brand - Somtum Der (now available in Bangkok, NYC, Ho Chi Minh City; with Tokyo and Beijing opening in 2017), Thanruek Laoraovirodge embarked on his first restaurant business and entrepreneurship journey in 2008 after graduating with his Masters Degree in Economics from New York University.
Born in Khon Kaen, Laoraovirodge takes great pride in his Isan roots, and his passion for showcasing authentic Thai cuisine is the driving force behind his endeavors in the food business—he recently opened Supanniga Cruise, which offers prix fixe dinners on a small barge that sails down Bangkok’s central river.
What are three things you wish people knew about you?
I wish people knew that I am actually a very easy going and down to earth person. I can eat anything at anywhere and I am not picky about eating at all. I also wish people knew that there is no hidden agenda from my straightforwardness. I tend to be very direct and speak my mind. And lastly, I wish people knew more about how I built my restaurant and hotel business that it is from my passion and the love of what I am doing.
What are you most proud of?
Of course, I am proud of the business I build but not in a sense of its financial success. What is more valuable to me is how I have shaped positive attitudes towards works and life for my staffs and people that work closely to me. I am very proud of making that kind of impact.
What is your most cherished possession?
My most cherished possession is intangible. I cherished every friendship that I have with people around me. Sometimes it goes beyond friends. It is an evolution of some sorts of relationship like what I have with my business partners and my staffs.
What was the best gift you’ve ever received?
The best gift I have ever received is an introduction to my first meditation practice from my parents 12 years ago.
What is your favorite thing to splurge on?
Since I travel a lot for work and leisure, my favorite thing that I’m willing to spend money on is to fly first class and travelling well.
When traveling, what do you never leave home without?
Of course my laptop.
Where is your all-time favorite travel destination?
India is always on top of my list. I tried to have vacation there at least once a year. Indian food, costumes, architecture and local way of life also inspire me. Once return from India I am always full of inspirations and positivity.
Describe the perfect weekend in Bangkok.
My perfect weekend would be waking up and enjoy two cups of coffees with my boyfriend and turn on my laptop to finish replying some emails. Then exploring new street food joints. My perfect weekend would definitely include having afternoon drinks by Chao Phraya River and of course spending some times with my staffs at one of my restaurants at the end of the day.
What makes someone a local in Bangkok?
To me you will be a local in Bangkok if you can maneuver your way through Bangkok’s traffic efficiently by having numbers of options to get to one place and willing to switch from one mode of transport to another without hesitation. Like how lots of local ditch their cars half way to the destination and jump on a motorcycle taxi or taking an uber to connect to skytrain to board public river boat.
Tell us about your favorite restaurant or cafe in Bangkok.
I don’t really have favorite restaurant but if I had to choose it would be Japanese Izakaya restaurant called Daimasu. For Thai food, it would be Southern food restaurant named Khua Kling Pak Sod and my most favorite bar in Bangkok is Vesper on Convent Road in Silom.
What is the most unique experience in Bangkok?
Street foods in Bangkok is quite a unique experience because you can find decent ones anywhere at any times. Another unique experience in Bangkok is to cruise along Chao Phraya River to be in the middle of the charms along riversides, where the old and the new culture collide in harmony.
What is the perfect souvenir from Bangkok?
Local-made handicraft basketry is very nice and can be made of different materials like bamboo or rattan. It is simple yet exhibits so much about Thai culture