Put out the fire

 – Tips from LaMaii’s Bank Atcharawan on rieslings that temper spicy Thai food

Bank Atcharawan is known for his expertise on rieslings, whose fruitiness complement Thai dishes. Photo by K.M. Cannon
Bank Atcharawan is known for his expertise on rieslings, whose fruitiness complement Thai dishes. Photo by K.M. Cannon

For those in the know, Chinatown’s hot new restaurant Lamaii is about more than just great Thai cuisine. It also boasts a serious wine collection for a restaurant of its size. The 60-seat dining room already features about 150 labels, although owner Bank Atcharawan is hoping to double that.

“That’s my first passion, and I can’t stay away,” says the former sommelier of Lotus of Siam, and ex-partner of Chada Thai and Chada Street.

Atcharawan is known as one of the city’s great riesling enthusiasts and experts. His current collection boasts 22 of those selections, and he’s hoping to bring that up to 50 very soon.

“It’s best with Thai food,” he explains of his affinity for the varietal. “Just the sweetness and the fruitiness, with the spice, they just complement each other.”

Given his devotion to the grape and its products, we asked the expert to recommend rieslings for three occasions.

With very spicy food: “Something like a Spätlese, which is a kind of late harvest riesling. So it has a really high acid and high-intense fruitiness.” His favorite producer is Dönnhoff, and he recommends its Oberhäuser or Niederhäuser.

For a special occasion: “My favorite producer, but its extremely difficult to get and is expensive, is called Egon Müller. Scharzhofberger is the vineyard.” Options include Spätlese or Auslese.

Great anytime: “I would recommend a QbA, which is an estate wine, from a good producer,” such as Dönnhoff.

 
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