Around the World
with Pitti
Edition 98
Rose Chalalai Singh is the founder of Ya Lamai - a low-key Thai restaurant with a high-key fashion clientele. The creative force behind Marais-based Rose Kitchen, the private dining spot features explosive dishes passed down to Rose from her grandmother. 

As a Bangkok native, Rose moved to Paris 12 years ago and hasn’t looked back. We spoke to her about Parisian culture and how her business has been surviving during the pandemic.
Hi Rose, what made you move to Paris?
I always wanted to live in Paris, it's the most beautiful city in the world. I used to come here from time to time to visit friends. One day I said: ‘I would like to live here’, so I just moved. I opened a restaurant and then it was successful. I still go back to Thailand once or twice a year.

What do you love about Paris?

I love everything - the people, the energy, the architecture, the art. I love that people are very open to culture, so you have galleries, museums, music, and theatre. it's very much alive.

Is there a particular area you find yourself in the most?

I've been living in Le Marais since I moved here. My home, the restaurant, Rose Kitchen and my son's school are all here. I'm very much attached to it, it's like a village. You have everything here and everywhere is linked. What I love about this area is that it's near the river, it’s just a few minutes away. It's a very charming area.
How would you describe the Parisian sense of style?
Parisian people always dress well. Brand or no brand. If you go to Barcelona, London or another big city, it's another story. Parisians have their way of putting things with the way they dress. That's why I say that Paris is like the city of beauty, people know what to wear.
Is there a fashion item or a brand that you see a lot of people wearing?

I don’t really see a brand, but you can see a little of the bohemian look. Parisian’s have their own style. There’s some vintage stuff, but I can't really identify what brand they are wearing. I do see my son and his friends, they are teenagers, they love Supreme and sneakers. I like sneakers too, I have many different brands. But I think now it moves very fast, they’re so many new brands. People don't stick with one brand for a long time anymore.


What's your favourite dish to eat?

I like Japanese food a lot. Sometimes we go to Japanese restaurants, but I mostly cook myself. Today I cooked steamed sea bass with Thai sauce, rice and a little bit of mushroom for my friend.

Apart from your own restaurant, where’s your favourite place to eat? 

I love to go to a Japanese restaurant called Kunitoraya. It's been here for a long time, the chef is very nice. He always tries to make things different in a gentle way. And he has a very nice set menu in the evening. I know there are a lot of new restaurants opening, but we always go there.

Do you have a late-night spot that you like to go to?

I like Café Flore, it's very Parisian, It’s been there forever, you never know who is going to be there. So sometimes you go and then you bump into a friend you haven't seen for a long time - or some writer, artist, musician or designers. I could have a really late night until two in the morning sometimes. 
Do you have a place you go to feel inspired?
Yeah, when I’m walking down the street, going to flea markets, museums, or food markets in Paris. Every district has a great market. The energy is amazing, I would go every day if I could. I also like the square garden, Leopold Achille in Paris. It's near my house and in the spring there's a very beautiful magnolia. So I would pass by every morning with my son on the way to school and see the flowers. It’s very beautiful.

Are there any sculptors or painters from Paris that we should check out?

September is a really good month because most of the galleries have an opening. Last week I went to a really great opening of a gallery called Galerie Chantal Crousel in Le Marais, for the Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. It’s a beautiful show, I was very happy to see his work.

What do you like about the artist?

When he does something, I understand it, but even if I don't, I can feel it, you know? And it's always related to politics but in a very beautiful way, like the political situation in my country. It's almost like a demonstration, It's quite a good energy. 

How has the pandemic affected your business?

It's okay, the big events have been postponed, but we do small dinners, which are very nice. It’s also good that people are getting back to seeing each other and having quality time.

Is your restaurant open at the moment? 

Yeah, the restaurant is open. Rose kitchen is also, and it's been great. People are looking for something more private, so we do a lot of private dinners. But of course, we have to be extra careful with the way we serve and seating distance rules.
Is your restaurant open at the moment?
Yeah, the restaurant is open. Rose kitchen is also, and it's been great. People are looking for something more private, so we do a lot of private dinners. But of course, we have to be extra careful with the way we serve and seating distance rules.

Is there anything you're working on at the moment that you'd like to share with us?    

I'm planning to do more products for my brand, Rose Kitchen. We make jam, liquors, oils, etc. - food products that we can sell online. Now we are working with my friend Yuuki at Tokyo Lefts, she is so cool! We are producing aprons, tablecloths, napkins and special fabrics, also hand dye with Wabara Rose, a rose farm near Kyoto. It’s so beautiful what they made for us. We will launch this project for our Christmas market at Rose Kitchen in December. While I was locked down with my family at our farm in Mallorca, I had an idea to use fruits and vegetables from the farm to make more delicious things with what we have there. I think now people are going to consume less, it’s more about quality.


Okay that sounds great, we look forward to seeing more!