Asia’s best: Haoma leads with a sustainable philosophy

Reeze Choi, Vishvas Sidana, Krister Bengtsson. Photo Ray Leung.
Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Published 06-June-2024

A champion of sustainability and an award-winning restaurant, it makes perfect sense that Bangkok’s Haoma led the pack to win three stars at Star Wine List’s Asia awards, including the coveted Grand Prix for best overall list. In the second such regional awards, which was hosted at Vinexpo in Hong Kong on 29 May, Haoma proved that by creating a virtuous circle with respect to the beverage programme, and artfully telling the stories behind beautiful, sustainably made wines is paying off, according to food and beverage director Vishvas Sidana.

“I believe that people are the backbone of the wine industry and I just spread the word or tell the stories about great growers and winemakers,” he said. “People relate to people more than the juice itself. My job is being a catalyst, where my guests learn a thing or two about the efforts made behind making wine.”

Opened seven years ago by chef Deepanker ‘DK’ Khosla in the upscale Watthana district of the Thai capital, Haoma is now on the radar for both drinkers and diners who relish savouring haute cuisine neo-Indian dishes backed up by a highly comprehensive beverages programme in Bangkok. But it hasn't always been easy, says Sidana.

“The biggest challenge has been getting the word out to make people aware of our restaurant and in particular, turning it into a drinking destination. Now, seven years later, I have a lot of regular guests, both local and international, who come back for the beverage experience we have to offer. My focus has been to create a precise and a balanced list, where you are bound to have a flavour experience with almost any wine.”

Haoma. Photo Diegos Arena.

The commitment to sharing the sustainable winemaking philosophy has really paid off, given that Haoma took home Best Short List, Sustainable Wine List and the Grand Prix, said Heidi Mäkinen MW, one of the four Asia awards judges whose prestigious panel included Véronique Rivest, Julie Dupouy-Young and Reeze Choi.

“This venue stands out by acknowledging that people are the most important part of our industry, and supports both local communities and the farmers of the carefully chosen and used produce. The ethos of the restaurant is well reflected on the wine list, which earns all its merits,” says Mäkinen.

Haoma’s list itself starts with a lovely introduction from Sidana, who encourages drinkers “to try something unique and new. The list celebrates classic winemakers along with the new generation, who are constantly innovating with ideas to improve vineyard management, vinification processes and finally moving to practise biodynamic and organic farming”.

As for the food itself, chef DK creates a neo-Indian meat and seafood experience over 22 courses, putting his twist on crab Madras curry and including extravagant extras such as an extra dose of Royal Project caviar on the Aamras Totapuri mango dish. Haoma has picked up a Michelin star, a Green star for sustainability and, in 2024, was given the Sustainable Restaurant Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Some ‘quirky’ wine gems exciting the team – comprising floor sommelier Sumeth Meksuwan, restaurant manager Sarthak Arora and assistant manager Alex Laruelle – right now are Mark Angeli Les Gélinettes 2020 and Dominio del Águila Viñas Viejas 2018, while classic numbers are Le Pergole Torte 2017 and Château le Puy Cuvée Barthélémy 2014. As for pairings at Haoma, Sidana recommends La Bota de Oloroso no. 116 from Jesús Barquín and Eduardo Ojeda with Lobster Two Ways, featuring Phuket lobster, ghee roast and idli Pulissery.

In terms of hospitality, Sidana and team keep to three rules to ensure a fantastic experience. “Know your guests’ profiles, anticipate and exceed their expectations, and let them have fun! Wine shouldn’t be too serious!” he says.

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