The nuanced elegance of Wanlamun's Thai sweets
Growing up in Thailand, I was never really fond of our traditional desserts. The combination of coconut and undisguised sugar -- cornerstones of Thai confection -- always hit me like a note too sharp for my bass range of creamy, chocolaty sweets. Why I wanted to give Wanlamun a try, nonetheless, is knowing that it comes from the same patissier behind the short-lived but sensational Let Them Eat Cake, the closure of which we are still crying over.
Originally based in Chiang Mai, Wanlamun is more accurately Let Them Eat Cake's Thai dessert predecessor, handed down to the owner Jakthong "Mumu" Ubolsootvanich from her mother, another confectionery queen in the family. The name Wanlamun, which bears such a polite, olden Thai ring to it, means gently sweet and is exactly what we met upon our first bite into a Kluay chuem (B85), or candied banana. Bracing ourselves for extreme sugaryness, we wrongfully went for a piece sans coconut sauce, learning immediately that they've been precisely designed to go together. Wanlamun's pastel-coloured Khanom tua pab (B60), a Thai form of bean paste-filled mochi, offered a similar experience, sealing the deal tastefully when had with its salt, sugar and sesame condiment.
Such control on flavours no doubt comes from the sophistications of Mademoiselle Mumu, as her fans call her. After testing out the desserts on another Thai who grew up on traditional sweets, his reaction was: "This tastes expensive."
You can experience Wanlamun's delicate touch on about ten other classic sweetmeats, including Khanom chan (B60), the layered dessert, and Khanom piak poon (B60), black coconut pudding. A quaint little outlet is tucked away on Convent road across the church. Despite the exclusivity, customers seem to venture into the soi regularly to pick up their orders. Alternatively, if you're around Siam, Wanlamun has recently been given a permanent booth at Siam Paragon right in front of the Gourmet Market. The mall vibes, however, are obviously no comparison to the tranquillity surrounding the Convent Road shop.
Wanlamun on Convent Road is open 10am-8pm daily, while the Siam Paragon booth shares its hours with the department store. Visit www.facebook.com/wanlamunbkk.