The underground gourmet likes dining out in untraditional restaurant spaces as much as the next guy, but truth be told, Bangklyn East Harlem gave us pause. To start, it’s hard to glean exactly what Bangklyn East Harlem is. Is it a restaurant with hardly any customers? Is it a scantily stocked clothing and skateboard shop? An eccentric artist’s studio? Maybe a piece of Jennifer Rubell performance art? The name of the place up on Second Avenue and 105th Street is vague, if geographically accurate. The façade bears a depiction of what looks like the Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece logo, but here the woolly lamb suspended by a ribbon has been replaced by a plucked chicken dangling from a rope. The back wall is home to all manner of vintage clothing and Americana, from a polished pair of Gokey moccasins to a Beavis and Butthead sweatshirt by Stüssy. And behind a counter, in Gurkha shorts, knee-high orange socks, and a blue apron of his own design, is the accidental chef and restaurateur Prasong “Pat” Kanhasura, a Thai native who studied at Parsons and became a fixture on the international flea-market circuit before leaving his Bangkok menswear shop (also called Bangklyn, a portmanteau of Bangkok and Brooklyn) to open a restaurant in New York.
To hear Kanhasura tell it—and if you belly up to the dining counter inside this curiosity shop, you most likely will—his midlife career change was prompted by the curren