Early in 2004, Robin Leigh and partners Michael Callahan, Jean-Marc Houmard and Huy Chi Lee (each already known for such landmark establishments as Indochine, BondSt, Republic and Town) joined forces to bring to New York a world-class culinary paean to Thai cuisine.They assembled a stellar team: Rockwell Group principal Diego Granda gave the room its rich decor, Paris based budding Thai fashion designer Chomwan Weeraworawit made the already photogenic staff even more camera-worthy, London based Thai designer and director Opas Chantkam created the restaurant’s iconography, and Feng Shui master Patrick Wong helped create a zen mood and flow to match the sublime décor.
The crowning jewel of the creation was Chef Ian Chalermkittichai who was lured away from the rarified world of the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok.The superstar toque was best known for his work at Darley Street in Sydney, and his weekly cooking show, Chef Mue Thong.
Designed to serve the guest population of the hotel as well as the daily rhythms of broader downtown diners, Kittichai benefits from its principals’ strong track record in hospitality. The restaurant not only embodies the cuisine of Thailand, but also other aspects of the culture including design and dress. With ottoman seating, private gazebos and black bamboo screens, the Rockwell Group has interpreted Thailand’s vibrant design and architecture on a smaller scale in the restaurant’s sleek space.
The dining room is decorated in a color palette of crimson, orange and dark woods and anchored by two enormous banquettes facing a pool. Arranged on an intimate scale with seating for 140 people, Kittichai encompasses both a bar and dining room.The restaurant also provides table service in season on the hotels street front open-air terrace.