URBAN Café at The Sukhothai Shanghai welcomes new Thai Chef Anchalee Luadkham, who’s just launched a new menu of Chiang Mai delicacies featuring soulful sauces, piquant and zesty flavors, and rich curries that beg to be eaten with rice.

URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai

Anchalee hails from the culture-rich city of Chiang Mai, and has brought with her the secret to unlocking flavors from Northern Thailand, populating the menu with 40 new dishes.

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The Zuk Bar at The Sukhothai Shanghai has just gotten a major upgrade with a Thai-style garden terrace. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence

Also, if you missed it, The Sukhothai Shanghai recently upgraded their terrace, transforming it into a Thai-inspired garden complete with gazebo and water features that extends from URBAN Café to The ZUK Bar. Al fresco dining for those balmy nights.

About Chef Anchalee Luadkham

Chef Anchalee Luadkham is a proud proponent for authentic Thai flavors, but presents it in a modern style that befits stylish venues like the Sukhothai Shanghai. She’s had an impressive career in 5-star hotels, previously at the Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons Chiang Mai.

Chef Anchalee Luadkham, URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai.

“I want to capture the essence of classic Thai dishes. Modern presentation but traditional taste. However, I’ve had to recreate a lot of recipes, because ingredients are hard to find,” remarks Anchalee.

New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai.

She’s actually a self-taught chef and has never gone to culinary school, though she came close. On that fated morning when she was to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu, the call came for the Mandarin Oriental. Torn between studying and wanting to work, she chose the latter.

Chef Anchalee Luadkham, URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai.

“Chefs from my mother’s generation were not chefs in restaurants or hotels, but cooks in the village. Whenever there was a celebration, everyone would contest to be the leader in the kitchen, to be the boss. My mother was one of those people, and I was pulled in to help. I fell in love with the smells, the colors…I just loved it. I didn’t go to school, I only learned how to cook Thai food from my family members,” said Anchalee.

New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai.

When asked about her personal cooking style, Anchalee said, “My style is quite spicy. I’m a bit crazy about chilies. But don’t worry, not all the dishes are my level of spicy. I also don’t use MSG or bouillon and make everything from scratch.”

From Chiang Mai To Shanghai

Food from Chiang Mai is distinctly different from Thailand’s eastern and southern regions. Located close to the borders of Laos and Myanmar, Chiang Mai cuisine is influenced by its neighboring countries, even borrowing some flavors from China.

Defining differences between Chiang Mai’s food and other Thai regional cuisine is that it is sweet, coconut milk isn’t used in curries, the sauces drier, and curries less soupy. It’s vibrant and eclectic.

New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Som Tum (¥148) – A classic Thai dish. Green papaya salad with dried shrimp and all the trappings with the addition of customary Chiang Mai accompaniments of grilled chicken and sticky rice.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
On its own, the papaya salad is rather spicy, but it’s traditionally eaten with sticky rice in the north, which works perfectly to balance out the heat.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Prawn Cake (¥138) – Plump shrimp cakes with bright, vinegary pickled cucumbers and shallots.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Yum Som O (¥178) – Pomelo salad reimagined. Pomelo segments, grilled prawns, shredded coconut, chopped peanuts, and a delicious tamarind-forward sauce that’s jammy, fruity, and spiced.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Crispy Roasted Duck (¥158) – The only non-traditional dish, inspired by Peking duck, chef’s love for freshly brewed coffee, and Thai flavors. It combines a crispy roasted duck, akin to duck confit, with a coffee and tamarind dressing and cubes of grilled pineapple.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Tom Yum Soup (¥158) with seafood of mussels and prawns, lots of lime juice and fiery birds eye chilies. Pretty spicy, but still enjoyable.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Wok-Fried “Drunken” Rice Noodles (¥128) – An ode to chef Anchalee’s love for noodles, with sliced beef, garlic, chili, and Thai basil.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Pad Kraprow (¥138) – Definitely need rice with this one. Wok-fried minced pork with hot basil, chili, and garlic.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Eggplant with Blue Crabmeat (¥138) topped with smoked bonito flakes, chili, and oyster sauce.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Steamed Cod (¥338) – Premium quality cod topped with salmon roe, chili lime sauce, and fresh mint. It’s a bite of the ocean. Luxuriously buttery cod with a bright, umami-rich sauce that’s absolutely addictive. A highlight.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crab Yellow Curry (¥138) – Toothsome soft shell crab in a rich, complex yellow curry. Another must-order dish.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Grilled Marinated Spring Chicken (¥178) – Half a spring chicken served with a jammy tamarind dip.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Tub Tim Krob (¥98) or Red Rubies Dessert is a popular Thai dessert of water chestnuts and coconut cream. Food coloring is added to diced water chestnuts, which are then encased with tapioca flour and boiled, giving it a bright ruby tint and a gummy yet crunchy texture. Served with shredded jackfruit and sweet coconut meat.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Chilled Mango Sago Soup (¥78) in a sweet and savory coconut milk base.
New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Thai Garden (¥95/glass, ¥370/carafé for four portions) – Gin, basil, lemongrass, lime, and soda water, garnished with a skewered lychee with young ginger.

Other drinks include Thai-style milk tea, wines by the glass from ¥80, bottles from ¥400, and Singha bottled beer for ¥60 or a bucket of six for ¥320.

New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai.

URBAN Café also has a weekday lunch set for ¥185, serving smaller portions of their a la carte dishes for variety. Two sets are available, one with papaya salad, tom yum soup, green curry chicken, rice, and mango sorbet, the other with pomelo salad (Yum Som O), chicken breast, pad thai, and Tub Tim Krob.

All prices are net.

New Thai menu featuring Chiang Mai flavors from chef Anchalee Luadkham at URBAN Cafe, The Sukhothai Shanghai.

In Summary

Compared to other Thai restaurants in Shanghai, it is pricey. Can you get this kind of food anywhere else in Shanghai? No. The food is delicious and worth its salt. It’s definitely worth trying, and I endeavor to return again.

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URBAN Café, The Sukhothai Shanghai
Address: 1/F, 380 Weihai Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu 威海路380号1楼, 近石门一路
Tel: 52378888
Hours: 12pm-9:30pm