Right! This is the round-up of places I’d been in Bangkok before I move on to reviewing the places in London.
First up was the Minibar Royale, a very hip, “American diner’s” hangout kinda place for Bangkokian celebrities and socialites, serving up easy Western kinda food in a “hip” kinda way. Nothing too fancy or worth a detour for real foodies, really, as most dishes were okay – some totally missed, and very few hit. I came across the super tender Seared Rack of Lamb, Potato Puree, Herb Roasted Mushrooms and Jus Vinaigrette. While the combination was nothing too stunning, the lamb was perfectly cooked and one of the most tender I’d ever eaten. Other savoury dishes, such as Baked Spinach and Cheese and Wagyu Mini Burgers, were something I could cope with. The spinach was a touch too salty for me, while the mini deconstructed Wagyu burgers, though of high quality, were too inconvenient to eat as the leaves, the pickled – whatever should have been inside a burger – were left elsewhere on the plate, leaving me to re-aseemble the burgers myself.
The most disappointing dish of the day was Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Corn Salsa. The combinations were disparate and the flavours crashed with one another. I must say, the bacon was really crispy but as there was hardly any scallop meat inside the wrap but an overwhelming amount of enoki mushrooms in its place, you couldn’t really cake it Bacon Wrapped Scallops, could you? Indeed, the mushrooms were the damning ingredient of the dish – elastic chewy texture and washed out flavours. The corn salsa tasted like plain sweet corn. Period. Luckily, the dessert of Banana Cake I ordered was orgasmic and redeemed the whole average meal. Fragrant, soft and gooey layers of banana and sponge cake that contained the right amount of sweetness, not overpowering the mellowy fruity flavours. I couldn’t enjoy it more.
Another trendy outing at the T Lounge, Siam Kempinski Hotel where Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin is, was equally average. Despite the grand venue, the afternoon tea was adequate. Light, fluffy scones with the clotted cream that was a bit of a let-down. Finger sandwiches were deep-filled but did not ooze out flavours as much as they looked, while the “cake” tier was too Christmas-oriented – mince pie, gingerbread, and the likes – which left one crave for more. The afternoon tea outing cost around 750 baht, including tea, but I feel with this price, it’s better to just go for a lunch set at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin opposite the T Lounge.
My slightly cheaper lunches fared better when it came to flavours. Taling Pling on Ground Floor at Siam Paragon has been one of my most favourite food haunts when I pass by Bangkok. Almost all dishes there were ace – traditional Thai food with a touch more of refinement and modest twists. Take this Rolled Fishcakes for example. One traditional Thai dish represented in a novel manner. Thin layer of Thai fishcake mixture was rolled along with a thin sheet of omelette, dipped in light batter and deep fried for a perfect crispness. This gave a touch of sweet neutrality and gorgeous crunch to this usual fiery, spongy nibble dish.
The orange prawn curry with omelette was ridiculously appetising. Foreigners beware, this was not the coconut milk based curry that you all are accustomed to but a lighter type of curry, almost broth-like and usually with fish or shellfish, with mostly herbal ingredients ground together to form a paste. The colour was orange but not that there was any actual orange in the curry. Taste-wise, it was sour, spicy, salty and sweet – in, more or less, that order! The prawns were nicely poached and the spongy omelette was sweet and bitter – the bitterness came from the Cha-Om leaves – adding the much needed meaty finish to the dish. Guess what, I drank up the whole bowl!
Then the high-end Som Tam place next door to Taling Pling, Cafe Chilli. The place refines Thai street food Som Tam and other North Eastern spicy salad dishes. The flavours were authentic enough, but not to the extent that they were right from the stalls in some dingy alleys. The compromise for that would be the super high quality ingredients Cafe Chilli offered and probably the re-assurance that all the dishes here would be hygiene guaranteed. Dishes of note were Grilled Chicken Rubbed with Tumeric, which came with sweet chilli dipping sauce and Cafe Chilli’s signature salty and spicy Larb sauce, and Tub Warn, a salad of spicy, pan-poached pork liver.
And, to finish this meal and extinguish the heat, I opted for Thai Coconut Ice Cream that came with a traditional selection of Thai toppings, such as peanuts, palm seed in syrup, sticky rice and sweet potatoes poached in sugar syrup. I shouldn’t forget mentioning that Cafe Chilli went extra miles and gave you a separate helping of the topppings for you to DIY your ice cream. Super duper!
Last but never least, it was my return to Bo.lan Restaurant, which I had blogged about, to catch up with old friends. You can find the extended review here, but roughly, the place served up amazing, marginal, yet traditional Thai dishes that were herb-oriented and dated back to the court of King Rama V. The recipes were well-researched and refined for today diners. If you happened to have sweet teeth, Bo.lan’s tasting style desserts would take you to cloud nine. Theirs were gastronomic rarities in such a modernised and glabalised Thai era, and if you fancied another helping, do let the missus Front of House know. She’s superbly accommodating and high acknowledgeable; and I’m sure she would probably be able to fetch you another helping
And on the way back to London I had a few minutes to grab a Dubai speciality….
The McArabia… not very glam, was it?
Enough said, here are the addresses:
37/7 Citadine Bangkok
Tel. +662 261 5533
Siam Kempinski Hotel
991/9 Rama I Road
Tel. +662 162 9000
TALING PLING + CAFE CHILLI
Ground Floor Siam Paragon
Tel. +662 260 2962-3