MakMak designer brings the Thai shop house to life with a cinematic twist Award-winning hospitality entrepreneur Yenn Wong’s (Jia Group) newest restaurant concept, MakMak, has brought Central Thai cuisine to the second floor of The Landmark via NC Design & Architecture (NCDA) recreation of a Thai shop house. The restaurant is reminiscent of a film set in the heart of Bangkok, giving guests a uniquely cinematic and authentic dining experience.
With a façade resembling an elegant, 1960’s Thai grocery shop, MakMak’s entrance features cabinets and shelves stacked high with necessities such as canned coconut milk, chiles and bottles of red sala syrup, a local favourite in Thailand. Not compensating function for form, the entrance works as a full-service bar and a takeaway counter for guests on the go. A service bell rests on top of the host stand; more than a mere call for attention, the bell is a button in disguise designed to open a grocery display cabinet that double as a hidden door to the restaurant’s residence-style 60-seat eatery.
Upon entering the dining room, the sliding cabinet quietly closes behind guests who will quickly forget that they are still inside one of Hong Kong’s most glamourous shopping malls. Though the home-style eatery is windowless, NCDA created backlit shutters on an interior, rattan-covered wall create a soft glow and subtle illusion of sunlight. LED fluorescent lights are arranged throughout the eatery and across the green- and white- tiled walls on opposite sides of the restaurant. The handmade tiles not-so-subtly spell out "MakMak"; not only the restaurant name, but a Thai term that connotes "lots" -- and perhaps subconsciously encourages guests to order more. MakMak’s rattan wall features framed artwork in various sizes, each a unique collage of Thai newspaper and cardboard packaging – also seen on the "grocery" shelves that line both the exterior and interior of the 2,000 square foot restaurant. A pink neon hand– in the shape of the Thai message "all is good" is mounted on an interior pillar in the center of the eatery, marking the spot where the space can be divided into a private room.
MakMak’s 60 seats, comprised of contrastingly modern timber chairs and benches, complement the moss-green tiled walls with similarly coloured leather. Wooden tables are adorned with earth-toned plates, where Thailand-born Executive Chef Mumu brings classic flavours of favourite dishes such as Tom Yum Goong, Pad Thai and curries. Guests dining in at MakMak will be greeted by servers clad in teal wide-leg pants and a matching top, evoking a sense of 1960’s nostalgia for the country. "To gather inspiration for MakMak, we spent countless hours researching shop houses and wooden villas in Thailand," said NCDA Director Nelson Chow. "We knew we wanted to give the space a uniquely cinematic environment, so we re-watched our favourite Wes Anderson and Wong Ka Wei movies – films that have characteristics everyone recognises, but often with a twist in terms of the colours or contexts, giving it an exaggerated ambiance that plays into that moment of surprise." An example would be the washrooms where amenity mirrors are presented within a grocery cabinet adding a whimsical element of surprise. "In a good film set, everything from the interior to the details are equally important. That said, with MakMak we designed everything from the interior, furniture, lighting and making of the artworks, to create a holistic experience for the visitors," Chow added. "Our goal was to transport visitors away from their normal, everyday lives so and inspire them in the company of good friends and good food for a few hours."