Redbox’s Unique Haute Cuisine
Chef Chinadanai ‘Dan’ Boonchaliew has a novel idea and it seems to be taking off. After learning the ropes for over 12 years in kitchens around Australia while also studying at university and working at the Thai Consulate for a time, he developed a passion for well made, intriguing fine dining — something that would catapult his life towards a great career in the kitchen along with his lifelong partner Primmada ‘Proud’ Kankulsuntorn. Now both 37, they have returned to Chiang Mai to revamp their latest venture that gained success and traction in Brunei — Redbox: fine dining in a box.
Chef Dan’s family already owned a successful chain of Thai restaurants in Brunei by the time he left for Australia to help manage a newly opened branch. “It was during that time I met Proud,” he explained. “After I opened the restaurant in her office block, we began talking, and the rest is history.”
After two years in Brunei, both Proud and Chef Dan were sick of their monotonous lifestyle and craved a more western style of living which he was used to in Australia. Every weekend they would fly to new regional locations and explore cities, taste food and become inspired.
“Redbox started after we helped provide food for a charity event for an autistic children’s home in Brunei,” said Proud, going on to explain that this was when they began to work on a new side project in their spare time. “I already had a prop and party accessories shop that was doing well, with bookings almost every week for balloons, tables, decorations, music etc. Chef Dan was doing the catering so the charity event was nothing too difficult, but we decided to experiment with fine dining instead.”
Soon Redbox was born. Redbox is not, as you may think, named after an actual red box, but it stands for Ready, Edible, Disinctiveness Box, with the slogan ‘Fine Dining in a box’ as its hook.
“It was hard to sell at the beginning,” explained Chef Dan. “In Brunei, street food starts from just one Brunei dollar (roughly 22 baht) and restaurants charge around 5-7 Brunei dollars for good meals. We were charging 10 Brunei dollars (220 baht) up, so we had to build our reputation and offer things people had never seen before.”
With the hashtag #redmoment, they soon gained a following on social media after some influential people tried their products. “Each delivery is made fresh just before it is sent, and comes with a flashcard explaining what Redbox is and a certificate of high quality produce when applicable (such as lobsters from Canada or crabs from Alaska),” Proud said as she scrolled through their Instagram page. “The box is also of high quality, sometimes wood, sometimes plastic, so there is a high society essence about it that really brought us the attention we were looking for.”
This ‘good mood good food’ venture was going from strength to strength, but after Proud had family commitments at home, the couple (who both, by chance, come from Chiang Mai) returned home to be close to their family. Sad to see their successful fine dining in a box company end, they made the decision to bring it here to Chiang Mai not only in box delivery form but also as a bespoke restaurant tucked down a soi just off of Huay Kaew Road.
Today, Redbox has been revamped and tailored to the local market. “There were a lot of ingredients we needed to change and adapt to so we can rely on local organic produce,” Chef Dan continued. “Our core menu explored all of our favourite flavours of Southeast Asia such as nasi lamak from Malaysia, crispy pata from the Philippines and buttermilk salted eggs from Singapore.”
Proud added that although they are still serving up ‘fine dining in a box’, they have adapted their menu and their restaurant to appeal to those perhaps cautious of the fine dining scene. “We want to insist that fine dining can still be a casual experience,” she said. “We want people to taste our food first before making a decision, either in our restaurant or in a box ordered to their home or workplace. Our #redmoments are bespoke and can be tailored to an individual’s palate. We are also focusing on clean food items as that seems to be really popular right now, but sadly much of this clean food is bland and lacking in depth and flavour. However, we can offer both together.”
Their restaurant serves a menu of dishes that are interesting and unique while at the same time somewhat familiar. Their organic watermelon tofu foie gras salad is one of those dishes. Watermelon is not unheard of in Thai savoury cuisine, but this dish (which is actually vegetarian unless you order a special topping of actual foie gras) takes it a step further by marinating tofu until it has both the consistency and the flavour of foie gras. Garnished with a rocket salad, some salsa and a balsamic glaze, this is a refreshing, healthy and delicious bite. “The watermelon must be sweet and firm, have no pips and not be of a ‘sandy’ texture,” explained Chef Dan as he went into even more detail. “That’s why we import only the best from Isaan. We then cut it to size and freeze it before searing it on a griddle pan, making sure the centre is still cold when the dish is served.”
Another beautiful dish is the smoked duck breast with lychee sauce — a deconstructed take of the popular duck lychee curry. The duck is smoked in-house and the dish is constructed table-side, finishing off the dish in extravagant fashion as Chef Dan scorches the skin to make it crispy with a blowtorch. And if the food menu hasn’t already excited your imagination enough, their drink concoctions are sure to whet your thirst. “Each drink has a story,” said Chef Dan as he began to explain the layers of one drink called the C Special. “This drink was inspired by coconut sugar drinks of Malaysia and Indonesia. The drink is layered with gula melaka (a special type of coconut palm sugar syrup) fresh milk and a combination of black and Ceylon teas.”
Redbox is available online, and a range of options are available for every customer, from size to frequency, food to drinks, but it is in the restaurant where you can really experience the skills of Chef Dan first hand. As you sit to eat, you are catered to as if you were in a private home, and as the main course finishes, you will be invited to dine on your sweet in the tea room and have the opportunity to talk to the chef one-on-one about the meal you just had and hear about what inspired him to create the dish you just ate. “We want the experience to be more than just eating,” Proud said. “We want people to live the food, dine on the food and taste something extraordinary at a price that is reasonable and in an atmosphere that is welcoming.”
The Redbox Restaurant
Open 11.30am – 10.00pm (Close every Tuesday)
No. 6, Haew Kaew Road
092 979 4542