Lok Wah Hin at Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square is one of the gems of Bangkok's restaurant scene. Located close to both the Skytrain and a lot, an awful lot, of shopping, it offers some of the best Chinese food in the city.
What is more, Chinese food with enough innovation to appeal to those always wanting to try something new and those who, thank you very much, would prefer to stick to what they know.
The dim sum is wonderfully tasty evidence of this. There was nicely subtle Steamed Shrimps and Scallop Shu Mai, a just right Deep Fried Taro with Minced Pork. They, along with many others, makes this a restaurant where dim sum, all sixty different types of it, is taken seriously and will certainly appeal to traditionalists. Deserving praise and new fans is where a new way of doing something has been found. Of these, two just have, to be tried.
One is the Steamed Crab Claws with Yellow Curry Sauce. A gorgeous golden colour, this delicacy has some mild heat but not overpoweringly so. Nor does the curry linger or overpower the crab. The two work well together to great effect.
Equally appealing but in a different way is the Steamed Rice Noodle Stuffed with Prawns in Chinese Dough. True, it is a bit of a mouthful but what a tasty one, combining the crunchiness of the dough with the plump succulence of just right prawns. Not surprisingly, it's a signature dish - one Lok wah Hin is rather proud but modest enough about.
Luckily Novotel provides the all-you-can-eat dim sum lunch all year round. This includes soup, choice of fried rice or noodles and dessert. At 620 baht per person it's worth it, especially for those who can get a group of ten together and get one of the private rooms for free. These are ideal for family groups, or friends who want to have a celebratory or even working meal of some quality in comparative privacy.
This is another of the great advantages Lok Wah Hin has. Not only is it in a prime location but this compact restaurant has two distinct parts.
The main body of the dining room is light and airy with ceiling-to-floor windows, and spread out enough to give diners real privacy and space.
Along one side are private rooms that can be opened up into one bigger room for larger groups such as wedding parties - Lok Wah Hin is a bit of an occasions restaurant amongst its other charms. These rooms with their dark wood furnishings and Chinese designs and the odd flash of colour have atmosphere and are more quiet.
Well thought out though the space is, and attentive though the staff are, the food is the reason to be here _ and its not just the dim sum making it worth a visit.
Over the festive season, Lok Wah Hin is offering a celebratory a-la-carte menu put together by Chef Hok Yeung Leung. Hong Kong-born and bred but well travelled, he has brought something fresh and very appealing to great, established dishes. "I like to try new things" he said and boy will you be glad. And celebrating.
First off is the Sichuan-inspired Steamed Duck and Tofu. Something in this_there are some traditional Chinese herbs used_we suspect is a secret family recipe and Chef Hok, with a smile, is not saying. But wow, what a taste!
Not of the Oh-My-Goodness-Did-You-Feel-That-Too sort? Rather it is lovely, simply lovely, to bite into duck that is soft, tender and bursting with a flavor all its own rather than chew through something much less appealing.
And there is the Red Snapper fried with Egg White. Itself a striking way to cook fish and snapper is not so regular in Chinese, especially Guangdong cooking.
This, it must be said, is a dish for the eating rather than for the eye. It looks rather bland as it is white fish fried in egg white and served with deep fried fish and broccoli. Not much to look at but with a smooth rich taste ringed with a hint of garlic that more than makes up for that. This is very much the sort of dish that gets tried out of politeness or curiosity but the taste pulls you back for more. Several times.
Not that the meal is without colour or presentation: Lok Wah Hin is a restaurant where thought is given to food and how it is presented _something that sometimes is not paid enough attention to in restaurants. One that should win medals here is the scallops with asparagus in a golden yellow sauce. It is a striking dish to look at and a lovely set of flavours come with it, even if the yellow sauce is hard to place.
It's pumpkin, Chef Hok revealed with another smile. "Chinese use pumpkin as an ingredient," he added. Not to as much impact as this, and it speaks volumes that pumpkin in Lok Wah Hin becomes very much a great mystery and a source of delight, both visual and to the taste buds.
As for desserts, well, having had great luck with boldly coloured dishes a good choice is the Sago and Cantaloupe in Coconut Milk. Its cold, some might think too cold, but not too sweet and like Lok Wah Hin itself very, very refreshing.
Lok Wah Hin
2nd Floor, Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Siam Square Soi 6, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. Tel 02 209 8888 email email@example.com
About the author
Writer: Michael Mackey