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Paste

Paste

Categories: Restaurants > Thai

Address: Paste, opposite Samitivej Hospital Soi Sukhumvit Soi 49, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand See map

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Bangkok Post reviews

Don’t forget to eat your Paste

  • Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
  • Published: March 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

Run by a Thai-Australian couple, this eatery is further proof that the best food in the Kingdom comes from the land down under

The compact dining room with contemporary setting.

My dear readers, please excuse my potentially offensive remark — the prosperity of Thai cuisine today seems to lie in the trustworthy hands of the Aussies.

Of course, I’m saying that with good evidence.

Recently, out of thousands of dining establishments, Bangkok-based authentic Thai restaurant Nahm by Australian chef David Thompson earned top honours in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 awards.

Bo.lan, another Thai cuisine eatery by a Thai-Australian couple, both trained under Michelin star-studded Thompson, ranked 28th.

To make the account even more astounding (or intimidating for Siamese culinary patriots), one of the most-liked restaurants in Bangkok at the moment is a year-old Thai joint by another Thai-Aussie couple.

Yum thawai or salad of pulled chicken, assorted vegetables and smoked fishchilli jam dressing.

Paste is the brainchild of a husband and wife — chefs Jason Bailey and Bongkoch Satongu — who used to own and run an award-winning Thai restaurant in Sydney. While Bangkok’s cooking experience derived from her family owning various food shops in Thailand, Jason refined his palette and technique for age-old Thai cuisine from years of working at legendary Thai restaurant Sa-Nguan Sri on Witthayu Road.

Paste describes itself as an "innovation Thai eating house”. Since its debut last March, the 34-seater set in a small shophouse off Sukhumvit Soi 49 has enjoyed a series of favourable reviews from old school media and fast-paced blogs alike. Yet despite its snappy sobriquet, the cuisine of Paste deserves more praise for boasting authentic flavour profiles of century-old recipes with slightly modern presentation.

I paid Paste a lunch visit a few days ago. The menu featured two dozen items, most reading like age-old classics and the rest sounding like a marriage between ancient recipes and present day ingredients.

Enjoyed in the dining room’s contemporary setting and lulled by upbeat lounge tunes, our meal kicked off with the restaurant’s signature and most-photographed dish, poached organic pork neck with avocado, ruby red grapefruit, rice crackers and edible Thai flowers (450 baht).

Sizeable cubes of succulent pork, slow-cooked for hours in master stock until absorbing the salty-sweet tang and developing a tender mouthfeel, came on a bed of green chilli purée graced — visually and palatably — with juicy citrus pulp, suety avocado wedges, crackling rice crisps, aromatic herbs and delicate florets of local plants, namely butterfly peas, sesbania and chives.

Lhon pla kraphong, or steamed wild sea bass fillet with longan honey, fennel and lemongrass.

Next up, yum thawai (400 baht), provided unexpected satisfaction, particularly to me, who’s among a few people in today’s world that are familiar with this century-old salad.

The dish, described on Paste’s menu as “pulled chicken with five Asian vegetables dressed in smoked fish and chilli jam relish”, featured bean sprouts, banana blossom, morning glory — all flash-boiled to retain their bracing texture — and shredded white chicken meat generously dredged with gritty, not-too-sweet golden curry that boasted a characteristic perfume of crispy smoked fish and roasted chilli.

Equally prized was lhon pla kraphong or steamed wild sea bass fillet with longan honey, fennel and lemongrass (550 baht). The fiery dish exhibited a hefty fillet of fish in a pool of sour, salty, spicy and slightly sweet curry leavened with finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, fingerroot (krachai), galangal and lemongrass. The well-rounded flavours proved delicious with or without rice.

The gastronomic impression continued with the arrival of gaeng hung-lay, or Northern-style beef curry described on the menu as “slow-cooked Australian beef cheek with fresh curry paste, pickled garlic, ginger, lemongrass and dried spice” (480 baht).

Lhon pla kraphong, or steamed wild sea bass fillet with longan honey, fennel and lemongrass.

The northern-style gaeng hung-lay with slow-cooked Australian beef cheek.

The dish featured chunks of super tender, almost melt-in-your-mouth beef in a brown gravy that yielded a well-loved flavour profile of massaman minus the coconut milk with awesomely crunchy and sweet garlic adding a memorable finish.

Delightful although not outstanding — only in comparison with other magnificent dishes we tried that day — was saeng wa koong phao, or salad of grilled ocean king prawns, lemongrass, young ginger and crispy catfish in Mandarin orange-kaffir lime juice dressing (480 baht). It offered chargrilled fresh river prawns, of which the meat is superbly firm, supple and flavoursome with fluffily brittle morsels of fried catfish in a perfect sweet, sour and spicy dressing.

Only two dessert options were available during our visit. We were truly impressed with khao niew dam sungkhaya, or black sticky rice with egg custard in coconut milk (220 baht). Here, the common street treat has been nicely reinterpreted and presented in the style of a Western bakery. The glutinous black sticky rice served as a tacky base for the custard, which was neither too sweet nor too eggy, and came half-bathed in coconut milk, accompanied by a scoop of home-made coconut ice cream. The ungrudging portion was lent a nutty finish by a roasted sesame seed garnish.

As an urbane sanctuary of good gastronomy, the restaurant offers a decent selection of wine and cocktails — classic and stylishly-crafted. Coffee, too, is determinedly hand-picked by the owner of Roots, one of the city’s most cherished roasters, to guarantee the best palatability.

Service, available in English, Japanese and Thai, was a blend of professionalism and sweet, Thai-style cordiality.

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