Being a foodie I always identify the restaurants I want to visit when I go to a new city. During a recent trip to Bangkok, I did the same and ended up eating at quite a few places. If I had to choose my favourites, these would top my chart.
I wanted to find out what the hype about the restaurant that tops the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants was all about. After making sure of a reservation weeks in advance, I headed out on my first night in the city to find this elegantly-furnished restaurant tucked away in a small lane.
As you go through the 25 emojis of the set meal, your entire focus turns to the creative dishes in this progressive Indian cuisine restaurant, which is as much about the unusual experience as the food. The menu doesn’t list the dishes, so it a surprise all the way. No cutlery is given – you just go back to the basics and use your hands, all the time enjoying the friendly service.
Twenty-five may sound a lot, but each dish is bite-sized and literally cleverly designed. It is difficult to pick the favourites, but what I loved most was the ‘Yogurt explosion’, which looked like a wriggly egg yolk on the spoon, but bursts with flavours of mango chutney, yogurt and chaat masala when you dunk it in your mouth.
The emoji for the next dish, a tongue, had us baffled and we had no answer when the server asked us to guess what it was after placing an iPod with speakers playing the song ‘Lick it up.’ We laughed as a dish arrived with the words ‘Lick it up’ written in green pea puree. This is the last thing you expect to do in a fine-dining restaurant, but we did just that with this mushroom and pea dish. Another favourite was Chilly Bon Bon – pani puri encased in a white chocolate shell. I enjoyed the Chutoro Sushi – a different take on sushi and lobster dosa. In desserts, it was the minion ice cream that appealed to my taste buds the most. As you leave sated with the unusual gourmet evening, a menu card with the dishes served is finally handed to you so you can mull over the chef’s creative instincts.
Address: 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini; +66 2 652 1700; http://eatatgaggan.com/
Like Indian, Thai food for long was not associated with fine dining, but Bo.Lan has shown the way and successfully changed that perception. This restaurant, the brainchild of a chef couple – Thai-born Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Australian-born Dylan ‘Lan’ Jones, stands at No 19 in the list of Asia’s 50 Best restaurants.
As you veer off the road and head into a small lane, you enter what is the recreation of a tastefully done up Thai home with a definite rustic ambience. Settle into comfy chairs in an inner area with dim lighting to sip on a cocktail before moving into the main dining space. We went for dinner where a choice of set menus takes you through the quintessential Thai experience with dishes inspired by traditional home cooking, popular street food and the refined recipes served upto the royals.
Make sure you arrive ravenous to do justice to the elaborate meal, which is ‘course prohibited’ meaning that the dishes of the main course arrive together at your table and unlike most fine dining, the portions are really generous. What we loved from the Bo.Lan balance menu was the grilled duck with beans, stir-fried prawn with cumin, coriander seed and dried chilli, beef shank soup and grilled fish served with a curry of pickled bamboo shoot, melon and pumpkin. However the desserts were a little disappointing, but we attributed that to the fact that Thai cuisine does not have any outstanding sweets. For the environmentally conscious, please note that this is a zero carbon footprint restaurant, achieved through a vegetable garden, a recycling waste and water-filtering system.
Address: 24 Soi Sukhumvit 53, Klongtonnua, Wattana; +66 2 260 2962; http://www.bolan.co.th/
Had enough of fine dining or local food and want to eat at a familiar American-style cafe restaurant where the selection ranges from burgers to pastas? Head to Roast, which buzzes all day around and offers a satisfying experience, whether you choose a truffle pasta in white sauce, a Croque Monsieuror a Crab Cake Benedict. If you are not a weight watcher, go for the Slow Roasted Fried Chicken. But surprisingly, it is the desserts that are really good. Its got the best dark chocolate souffle I’ve ever had freshly baked, it was super soft and simply melted in your mouth as you poured the Grand Marnier sauce over it. After having this we were wishing we had left a little more space to fulfil our sweet cravings. Be prepared to wait for a table if you land up at lunch time, even on a week day, so make sure you make a booking. The restaurant has two branches, one at the Commons at Thonglor Soi and another at the swanky EmQuartier Mall.
Address: 1st floor, The Helix Quartier, EmQuartier, Sukhumvit Road; +66 94 176 3870; http://www.roastbkk.com/