Starry starry bites
'Wisdom of Thai Cuisine' wins hearts, minds and Michelin stars for R-HAAN
It's hard to hold the hyperbole when talking about R-HAAN. But strings of superlatives are hardly necessary now that it has become one of the fab five Thai restaurants bestowed 2 Michelin stars in the 2020 restaurant bible (none so far have achieved the ultimate accolade of 3 stars while 24 have 1 star).
Why so exalted? It all boils down to an impeccable dining experience as startling to non-Southeast Asian palates as Thai grammar. Its DNA comprises the kinds of things the ultimate arbiters of gastronomy, the mystery Michelin reviewers, evidently prize. None of which are overpriced pretentiousness.
The beauty of R-HAAN is the approachability and affordability of world-class Thai dining that is true to its roots in a way that makes you sit up in your well-upholstered arm chair and take notice.
At 47, Master Chef Chumpol Jangprai, co-owner of R-HAAN with Singha Corp scion Piti Bhirombhakdi, reckons he's been cooking 38 years. He's mostly self-taught and excelled taking Blue Elephant from four to 15 worldwide branches before opening his first project, Siam Wisdom in soi 31.
His culinary philosophy is a blend of "love, nature and wisdom of Thai cuisine."
He's always been 100% focused on Thai ingredients but that includes anything produced in Thailand, from foraged herbs to wagyu.
While perfecting classic Thai dishes in his own inimitable style, he pushes the envelope.
"My cuisine is innovative, original, authentic and very season-centric," he summarises.
The tasting menu format changes every four months.
With his two-star notoriety filling the 50 seats, plus 20 in the private dining room, he isn't resting on laurels. Nor has he raised prices.
Our "Monsoon" menu began with a pour commencer of crispy coconut coriander crêpe roll with tom kha cream sauce and Royal Project caviar, served under coconut smoke-filled glass that when lifted transported one instantly to the plantations.
Thai spicy vegetable fern salad with oyster and chaiya salted eggs, served in an elaborately patterned yet sturdy raised bowl, followed; literally a laurel of delicious, oozy-chewy, salty and sour tropical upland earthiness.
Next appeared a carved wooden bowl sporting a mushroom collagen puff ball and curry chicken jellies that you mash into bamboo grass and sweet bamboo shoot crumble. An unforgettable original.
Another appetizer, "Trio of Siam Journey" comprised three morsels on a brushed brass platter: the ultimate Thai sausage made with Korat wagyu with pork skin crumble and green chilli mousse; river prawn tapioca balls; blue crab yellow curry croquettes with basil sauce. Exquisite exotic savoury bonbons.
After a fine palate cleanser of aromatic bitter orange sorbet, the mains arrived.
A choice of classic but fully-strained Thai tom yum soup with lots of live king river prawn OR free range chicken consommé with madan.
Another choice was of Thai silver shank beef massaman curry with baked basil-infused rice OR jungle-climbing perch fish curry/rattan shoots.
Everyone gets chef's signature dip of stir-fried spicy tamarind and ground pork served with crispy sepat Siam fish and fresh veggies. Also steamed crab yellow curry with sour banana blossom. All clearly superior.
Dessert offered another choice: superb mango tatin encased in white chocolate, fresh mango, mango cream, with coconut sticky rice and divinely smooth coconut milk ice cream OR decadent chocolate mousse dome, roast pancake, candied coconut, tamarind ice cream, chili salt.
Daintily formed petit fours of mung bean with coconut milk and with corn milk, along with durian macaroon and Siam coco truffle concluded.
Call it beguiling Thai fine dining served in a tasteful private Thai dining room setting by gracious jongraben-clad staff. Or as Michelin pithily puts it with monumental understatement: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour".
- R.HAAN. Thonglor Soi 9
- Mon-Sun 1800-2200 hours
- Tel. 02 059 0433-4