I flew all the way from Los Angeles to Bangkok to dine at Na-Oh, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar jet that has been turned into a gourmet restaurant with exquisite cuisine and a unique dystopian theme.
Na-Oh Bangkok Review – L-1011 TriStar Restaurant
First I made my reservation. Then I booked my airline ticket. Yes, this evening was the primary purpose of my long journey to Bangkok through Europe, the Middle East, and North Asia in the midst of a global pandemic.
I took a taxi from my hotel to ChangChui, an outdoor market on the outskirts of Bangkok that is home to a former L-1011 jet, HS-AXE, that flew for Delta Air Lines from 1974 to 1999 and then flew briefly for Thai Sky Airlines, a defunct charter airline. It now is one of the hippest restaurants in the Thai capital.
It was this video that first caught my attention and altered me to the restaurant:
From the entrance, I could see the majestic TriStar glowing in the night sky in a constantly-changing hue of light.
A wooden sign with a carved animals and the words Na-Oh Bankgok marked the entrance to the restaurant. I was greeted by name (perhaps I was the only foreigner on the reservation list that night?) and directed into an elevator, where the host explained the concept of the restaurant.
Na-Oh is a play on Noah’s ark and the L-1011 is styled as a modern-day ark, transporting humans and animals through a dystopian age.
Stepping onboard, I was greeted by a pair of polar bears (and another host) and directed to my table. But I couldn’t stay seated. What an incredibly ingenious theme and decor. The choice of furniture, artwork, and taxidermy is a carefully curated collection and is essential in giving the restaurant its unique character.
In the rear of the aircraft is an elevated area with a single table, ideal for private dining. Look up and you’ll see the third engine over the fuselage has been removed and a window put in its place.
Down a few steps is a lounge and bar area. The lounge has a large cocktail menu, beer, and wine and it’s not only a cool restaurant, but a cool bar.
In the center of the restaurant is stairs going down to a lower deck. Delta used this area as a large galley to heat meals (while other L-1011 operators like PSA Airlines used it as a lounge). It now includes velvet couches and a menagerie of wild animals.
Upstairs the main dining area includes tables set along the windows with taxidermy in between.
In the front of the aircraft, in the former flight deck, is another special private dining area.
The restaurant was not crowded and I noticed it attracted young, well-dressed Thais…I was probably the oldest one in the restaurant. The whole ChangChui market has such a different feel than central Bangkok; a wealthier, far less-touristic vibe.
Oh yes, and the food. I enjoyed a delectable five course dinner.
Dinner was at my pace. I began by ordering a cocktail and slowly sipped that as I walked around the restaurant.
When I had taken enough photos (and by the way, everyone was taking photos…it is that kind of restaurant), I returned to my table and a waiter promptly appeared and asked if I would like to start my dinner.
Dinner began with an amuse-bouche.
That was followed by a refreshing appetizer salad:
Fancy tomato salad with gazpacho ice ball, sundried tomato chutney, pickled wild tomato, tomato gumbo, smoked cream cheese, dill oil and crispy quinoa.
Next came duck liver…something I generally am averse to, but wanted to eat the entire menu and must admit it was still tasty (though my least favorite course…there’s something about liver that has always been off-putting for me). I would have preferred the grain on top be left off, but the grilled peach was so delicious.
Pan-seared duck liver with crispy mixed grains, grilled fresh peach, peach paper and caramelized peach sauce.
The next course was my favorite; a buttery halibut with a grilled brussels sprouts and pickled cucumber.
Pan-seared halibut with caper lemon butter, green pea purée, grilled brussels sprouts and cauliflower, pickled cucumber cubes and corn purée with curry powder.
The main course, of which I had a choice between grilled duck, filet mignon, or rack of lamb, came next. I ordered lamb, which was cooked a perfect medium rare as specified and served with with a lovely truffle potato croquette.
Pan-seared rack of lamb with cranberry madeira sauce beetroot purée, pickled beetroot cubes, roasted baby carrot, truffle potato croquette, caramelized onion and crispy onions.
I concluded the meal with dessert, a dash of pineapple cream with lemon meringue and other morsels.
Spiced salted pineapple ice cream with cinnamon crumble, pineapple granite, lemon sponge and meringue, pineapple gel and fruity mousse, coral tuile and butterfly fondant.
Just in the last month since my visit, the menu has changed a bit. Rather than a five-course or three-course option, there is now a first class, business class, or economy class option. The first class option includes seven courses (3200THB), business class five (1800THB), and economy class three (999THB).
I requested coffee after dinner, but the restaurant does not offer coffee! My bill came out to 2,808 Baht, about $83. Look, I know that you can dine royally for 83 cents in Thailand, but this was a special treat.
During dinner, a musician floated through the restaurant playing a saxophone.
Midway through dinner, the “storm” began. It’s a light and music show meant to convey the 40 days and 40 nights of rain in the biblical account of the flood. O Fortuna by Carmina Burana is used. The funny thing? Moments before the light show began it started to pour rain outside.
Indeed, for much of dinner it rained so hard the power went out during two different occasions. While this was not intentional, it added richly to the experience and the flickering candlelight at each table provided sufficient light to continue my meal.
The food was delicious – I met the assistant chef on my way out (Chef Mo-na Teeratada had the night off) and enjoyed a brief conversation about the genius behind this restaurant concept. I’m so proud of this expression of entrepreneurship.
Despite being an aircraft, the lavatories have been removed. However, there are restrooms on the ground level.
A shout-out to the excellent staff at the restaurant: everyone was a pleasure to speak to.
I simply loved my dining experience at Na-Oh Bangkok. The food was superb, but it was so much more than the food: it was the entire dining experience that made this one of the most memorable restaurants I have ever dined in and will bring me back next time I return to Bangkok, hopefully not alone next time. This restaurant is meant to be enjoyed with friends or loved ones.
Where in the world is MJK? I almost wetted my pants reading you were the most senior client dining that night. You need to warn us readers when making a joke. Are your strong feelings about pate stronger than sushi?;)
Very nice. The Noah theme is vcry good because the airplane theme is hard to maintain. Just look at the L-1011 Tristar in Benin. Here, the airplane theme is just the windows and the ribs.
That definitely looks like it was worth the trip. Added to my list. BTW you wrote altered instead of alerted.
You’re so cute!
Incredible. It’s my dream for 2022 and I am determined to get there. Fantastic review, Matthew and one of my favorite posts you have ever done.
Also, isn’t this an ex Delta L-1011? If so it’s incredible to sit inside and imagine the hundreds of thousands of souls that moved across the world in it.
Yes indeed, Delta from 1974 to 1999.
A great article. Well done
I used to fly l-1011 for ba. We passed a few from delta back in 79 it would be incredible if this one would be one I flew..
Nice shoes on your feet, nice food, nice place.
Thanks for the review.
This makes South-East asia great.
Nice write-up but long way to go for dinner!
Wow, that was truly something. One correction: unless my eyes deceive me, that was a soprano saxophone (think Kenny G), not a clarinet.
1. That looks awesome. I’ll certainly have to visit. Really impressed with the menu they were offering. Not what I would have expected.
2. I flew the L-1011 on DL quite a bit in my childhood and never knew there was a lower deck galley.
3. You described this as a “modern-day ark.” I believe the MA on the somewhat derided MA60 in fact stands for “Modern Ark.”
Yes in the ba ones there was a galley on the lower deck and 2 lifts to service the cabin. We sadly lost a colleague of ours crushed by the lift.
Outstanding photos! Just looking at them whetted my appetite for that food! Nice write-up as well!
Matthew, didn’t your parents teach you to sit up straight? The huge Burberry logo? I suppose it isn’t that chavvy. And those shoes…
The saxophonist reminds one of this:
What a great article. Bravo! If I was allowed to re-enter the USA after leaving I’d love a 72hr trip to this restaurant. Soooo good.
That looks like one of the few restaurants that I’d pay a premium to experience!
Glad you’re enjoy visiting my country. As a Thai, thank you so much for supporting our tourism industry during the tough situation right now.
If you guys like the concept of airplane restaurant, then I’d like to recommend the others throughout Thailand such as 747 Cafe (747, Bangkok), Air Diamond (A330, Chiang Mai), Coffee War (A330, Chonburi) and Niagara N (L-1011, Nakhon Pathom)
Don’t know if I could enjoy a meal with a bunch of dead, stuffed, glass-eyed animals staring at me. Always freaked me out as a kid and still makes me…uneasy. Like a “Pet Sematary” vibe. Glad you enjoyed it though.
What an interesting concept with the animals and pictures of the Ark. it’s nice to see the structure of an AC like the L-1011 up close.
With a population vaccine rate of only 62% Thailand is a dangerous place for seniors and anyone with a medical condition. A lot of people in Thailand who follow social media are trending towards vaccine hesitancy, with reports of vaccine side effects . This makes the outskirts of Thailand very scary. No trip this year for us.
There is no vaccine hesitancy in Thailand, in fact people are very eager to get vaccinated. Whether the vaccination rate is an indicator for a place being dangerous, I don’t know. I am a senior person living in Thailand and definitely do not consider the outskirts of Bangkok scary
*alerted, not altered
Great article, I look forward to checking that place out next visit.
The Weeping Angels are terrifying.
As an update for people who find this review I recently went in Feb 23′ based on Matthew’s post. It is from what I can see even more fantastic as to the food now than during Covid. The food was absolutely fantastic. How this does not have at least one Michelin star is beyond me. It may be that due to the chef explaining that many ingredients and staffing were difficult during Covid and now they are able to truly create without limitations.
I fully went expecting a gimmick, but as an Av Geek that was ok. I really did not go with great expectations as to the food. But it absolutely blew me away. The service as well was truly fantastic. One of the best and perfectly balanced and not overwhelming tasting menus I have ever experienced. The chefs personally even come out to explain each dish. Yes, for BKK is expensive (we paid $250 for two for eight course, on cocktail and two glasses of wine each). Bu compared to set menus in Europe at restaurants this level it is a steal.
Matthew perfectly captured the ambiance and it is really breathtaking. And for av geeks the novelty of sitting in an old Delta L-1011 is quite an experience. Almost surreal. But do appreciate that beyond the aviation theme the entire dystopian creation of the interior is a work of art.
A few things I will add to Matthew’s review (not to dispute but since time has passed since):
1. Taxis are completely baffled by the location and why you want to go there. Have a good Google maps location out to show them and help them with it. The road is a small and busy highway and the pull off is small. Be ready to help direct the driver.
2. The cockpit table is incredible. I wish I knew to book this ahead as it is available if you call and request and is not already requested (this told to me by the manager). Wonderfully private and what a view through all the windows. It’s curtained off though so you do miss the goings on inside the fuselage.
3. Take time to walk around the market after that it’s in the center of. A great concept and really fun. Very Tokyo vibe to it and we had fun. It’s young, no doubt, but very welcoming.
4. They do offer a six course but, really, the eight course is perfect. It’s done just right and not overwhelming at all. We were dreading that much food but left “just right” as to how we felt after.
5. If you are on more of a budget you can go for drinks only. A few couples were there in the lounge and never ate. At least you get to experience it. But, really, the food is so worth a splurge.
6. Do not go here for “Thai” traditional cooking. But be pleased that many Thai ingredients and flavors are present in a hybrid form. I would not call it “Western” nor “Eastern.” It perfectly balances the two.
7. Though I wanted to go there on a few trips last year when alone I did not as I hate eating alone for longish set menus. However, now I regret that. It’s perfectly suited for a sole diner and should not be missed for that reason. You will feel comfortable and never bored when alone. And the courses are not painfully staggered like in Europe.
Anyone who is an av geek and foodie and does not go to this restaurant is truly missing an experience they will remember the rest of their lives.
Oh, and forgot. Taxis are very hard to get here when you leave. Everyone used an app to order one as they are not running around the area that often. We waited 15 minutes for one (and I think accidentally took someone’s ordered one away) as there is no Uber in BKK. Make sure to download one of the other apps for sure.
Stuart, I really appreciate this update! I’m glad you had a nice time there.