Waldorf Astoria's signature restaurant, aptly named Front Room has labelled itself Thai-Nordic. But don't let that mislead your palate as the menu comprises Thai ingredients combined with Nordic cooking techniques.
Chef Rungthiwa 'Fae' Chummongkhon. SIMON K
Chef Rungthiwa "Fae" Chummongkhon's 10+ years in Denmark has made its mark on her cuisine and in her latest tasting menu (7 courses B2,700, wine pairing B2,500 or 10 courses B3,300, wine pairing B2,900), and her à la carte menu, which interestingly, is a completely separate menu.
The welcome drink of winter melon, pandan and palm sugar will definitely whet your appetite for what's to come (I am a sucker for winter melon juice).
The Velkommen or appetiser section starts off with the Danish pancake puff, which resemble the Japanese takoyaki -- "aebleskiver". In Scandinavia this is a New Year dish, explains chef Fae, and hence she's put it at the top of the menu. It is eaten with berry jam and powdered sugar normally, but chef Fae makes it savoury adding a dab of Danish remoulade. The Milk and broccoli emulsion uses milk chips, made by searing raw milk in a pan and dehydrated to form the chips. This is served with grilled and raw broccoli emulsion.
Eating lotus petals is not uncommon in this part of the world, but chef Fae's plating for Petal chips will have you guessing which petal is edible. Sweet potato and peanuts form the basis of the next appetiser to "make the Thai connection, where sweet potato is consumed often". Served with a peanut cream, that will remind you of satay, and sour green apple for freshness. The last of the appetisers is inspired by a Thai curry made from green peppers. Razor clams cut in bite-sized pieces is mixed with ginger root, coconut tops and aromatic Thai herbs. Yum!
Since it is seafood season in Scandinavia, chef Fae wants diners to taste the freshness of the sea. Round and spiny is sea urchin, jelly bacon, sea asparagus, a dish too pretty to eat. The Atlantic laks is salmon, carrot, bitter oranges and rice mayo. Salmon trout is sourced from Norway and served with grilled carrot sauce mixed with a fermented fish sauce. The fish sauce is fermented with spices, pineapple, passion fruit and honey for two to three months, so it adds a special flavour to the brightly-coloured sauce.
To the sea.
Reborn is inspired by the Royal Project egg, the yolk of which is cooked confit style in thyme oil. Faux egg shells are made from mussel sauce and egg whites and the dish comes with a sizeable mussel from the south of Thailand.
Raised in Korat puts the spotlight on Thai beef. Beef tartare is served inside a cigar casing made from rolled cauliflower chips. Black garlic powder is sprinkled on top for the ash effect.
To the Sea uses toothfish from Australia, which has been sous vide and lightly grilled. It is served with seafood powder, made from dry razor clams, fish and scallops, crispy fish skin, prawn cracker and prawn mayo. A dish that takes you back to being by the ocean.
The best thing about the Duck, which is sourced from Sukhothai, is the jus, made with mulberry and chicken stock. Duck breast is stuffed with truffle and black garlic, wrapped up and seared on a pan. To add texture to the dish, seared jicama is served, almost shaped like a scallop. The main is served with pearl barley, popular in Scandinavia.
The pre-dessert I am Young, makes use of tamarind, in season atm. "I wanted to make a welcome drink but decided tamarind would be better in a sorbet because it is fresh. I serve it with drinking yoghurt pearls, which is drunk during the summer months in Denmark," says the chef. Lemon, lemon seed and milk chips complete the dish. Does chef Fae love her milk chips or what!
Dessert is extremely unusual as it uses grilled aubergine. "I grew up in Chiang Rai where we eat a lot of aubergine paste, so I decided to put it in my dessert. For the sour element, I chose mulberries because they are in season and then I added chocolate mousse, dehydrated chocolate mousse and chocolate chips made from the dehydrated mousse," says chef Fae.
If you think you are done eating, you have another thing coming. Chef Fae also makes the most delicious Petit Fours I've tasted in a while. Just make sure to make the right choices.
5.30-10.30pm / The Front Room, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, 151 Ratchadamri Road / Call 02-035-8108.
Round and spiny.
Round and spiny. SansithKoraviyotin