With its high-tech gimmickry, new cafe-restaurant proves that mouthwatering food doesn't necessarily come in dull packaging
A considerate restaurant reviewer doesn't just go to a restaurant, sample its food and come back to write about how the food tasted. She should thoughtfully consider whether and why that particular eatery is at all worth mentioning. So when I heard about a cafe-restaurant opening in the trade fair district, Muang Thong Thani, my biggest doubt was if the place was good enough for my readers' journey uptown _ if only I had known that the answer was waiting for me on the plate.
I often share the opinion of many diners who have the perception that chic-looking restaurants don't usually serve noteworthy food. And good food, on the contrary, is more likely to come in a less attractive package. Apparently, that has been proved accurate with Ban Mae Yui, a highly-cherished, eight-year-old Thai eatery in the noble Klong Prapa district but, nevertheless, not with its three-month-old branch-out cafe, under review.
Unlike its humble, open-air mother outlet, Mae Yui Cafe _ aka MY Cafe _ occupies a modernly decked-out unit in a stylish shophouse row. The food travels from its third floor all-chrome kitchen via a state-of-the-art elevator, while diners can always observe what's going on in front of the stoves through closed-circuit camera screens. And to make the experience even more interactive, a list of recommended dishes is presented on an iPad. Now you know what I was trying to indicate.
Fortunately, and to my surprise, Mae Yui Cafe's hi-tech gimmick didn't make its food any less worthy. In fact, my Friday lunch there was one of the most delightful feasts I've had over the past 10 months. We started off with the drinks and found the house-concocted Thai milk tea (40 baht) and lemon iced tea (40 baht) truly satisfying.
From a collection of appetisers we were suggested moo satay, or pork satay on skewers (120 baht). Again, I never expect much from typical street food offered in an air-con cafe. But Mae Yui's moo satay, which was said to be very popular at the original restaurant, proved as tasty as that of any top master on the street. The pork, being well marinated and with just a perfect portion of permeated fat, was tender and flavourful. It was enjoyed traditionally with peanut curry sauce, cucumber salad and bread cubes.
Following was kanom jeeb, or prawn dumplings (120 baht). The home-made dumplings were stuffed with seasoned minced prawn and pork before being deep-fried to offer a crispy, golden brown skin and supple centre. The treat was topped with garlic and pork crackling and enjoyed with vinegar soy sauce.
From the Western menu, the restaurant's signature chicken vol-au-vent (150 baht) was superb. The puff pastry shell was fluffy and flaky, while the filling was aromatic and creamy with tender pieces of chicken meat.
Presenting pan-grilled, naturally sweet eggplant, zucchini and mushroom with pesto-apple cider vinegar dressing, the grilled vegetable salad (200 baht) is another delicacy worth ordering. Try garlic butter french fries (150 baht), too, and you'll find it hard to stop snacking.
For Thai-style main course, we ordered sauteed fresh king prawn with garlic and pepper (95 baht). Serve with pan-fried jasmine rice with prawn paste and lots of crispy garlic morsels, the two sizeable prawns, coated with salty seasoning, were fresh and meaty.
A friend was hooked on nam phrik khai khem, or salted egg yolk infused chilli dip, served with a platter of fresh vegetables, which I found a bit too sweet for my palate.
For main entree, there was a decent variety of pasta on offer, as well as a limited collection of meat courses. We passed the likes of grilled pork chop and rib-eye steak and settled on penne alla gorgonzola (250 baht). The tube pasta, perfectly al dente in texture, with rich, creamy and salty Italian blue cheese sauce, was memorably delicious.
For desserts, you may want to try homemade ice cream and sherbet (50 baht per scoop). Or go for best-selling blueberry cream cheese pie (95 baht), strawberry cheesecake (100 baht) and molten chocolate cake (85 baht).
But for those who shun sugary treats, I highly recommend that you wrap up your meal here with baked camembert served with truffle-infused honey (450 baht). The French cow's milk cheese, baked in its rind until the centre becomes gummily melty, was enjoyed with bread (if you don't like crispy baguette, ask for the softer, toasted bread cubes which I found a better complement for the cheese), fragrant truffled honey and dried fruit.
It had always been my concern where to find good food in the Muang Thong Thani area.
Now, not only have I found a place my stomach and tastebuds can really depend on, I've also been reminded that mouthwatering food doesn't necessarily come in a dull packaging.
More info: http://www.bangkokpost.com/leisure/cuisine/204890