Celebrating cuisine of the Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean peninsula at Plate
Finding Peranakan food in Bangkok can be a challenge. When the craving for Peranakan flavours strikes, one would typically make do with some laksa, which can be found at a few eateries in the city. Now, however, a larger section of the cuisine is within reach, as Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit opens Plate, a restaurant that shines the spotlight on Peranakan and Singaporean favourites. Plate bears the same name as its sister branch in Carlton Singapore.
Chef Kan Bright San.
Crispy pork belly with chilli dip.
Asam pedas stingray.
For those who aren't familiar with Peranakan or Nonya cuisine, it is a culinary melting pot of Malay, Chinese and Indonesian food -- an interpretation of the three cuisines by descendants of early Chinese migrants to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Captaining Plate's kitchen is chef Kan Bright San, who brought to Bangkok the Malaysian-Chinese fare he enjoyed during his youth and also the food that he relished over his many years living in Singapore. Chef San's most talked-about dishes include the Asam pedas stingray (Asam pedas translates to "sour spicy", B490). It's an appetisingly pungent stew with fillets of stingray, whole tomatoes, okra and mint. Chef San uses the meatiest part of the stingray, its fin, to cook with. The stingray, a fish that us Thais aren't too familiar has the texture of fish and shrimp combined: flaky, yet dense. When dragging a fork across it, the meat peels off like mozzarella string cheese. This dish has to be ordered well in advance.
Another much-lauded dish is Laksa (B360), featuring fish cakes, a boiled egg and dried bean curd. Chef San's take on laksa involves tender fermented rice noodles, instead of the tougher rice vermicelli that is more typical. The broth is clearer than your average laksa, with subtle flavours that don't make you feel like you're slurping down half a can of coconut milk.
While it is not exactly part of Peranakan cuisine, something that you must order at Plate is the Crispy pork belly with chilli dip (B450). The slab of golden pork belly boasts a thick layer of crackling dotted with puffy bubbles, an indication of deep-fried pork belly that has been done well. The classic Malaysian dish, Nasi lemak (B490), is not to be missed either. It consists of butterfly pea coconut rice, grilled river prawns (with its eggs oozing like egg yolks), fried anchovies, a boiled egg, peanuts and zesty sambal.
Offset all that savoury food with Ondeh-ondeh (B180/two pieces), a ball of sweet potato and glutinous rice that has been stuffed with a sticky mixture of palm sugar and grated coconut, which is boiled and served with a coating of fresh coconut flakes. If you still have room for more, get Kueh dadar, which is an Indonesian soft pandan crepe with a filling of coconut and palm sugar. This special treat is not on the menu, but you can call ahead of your visit and ask if they can prepare the dessert for you. Price upon request.
The restaurant's warm minimalist aesthetic complements the food well. Despite the heavy use of marble, the restaurant generates an easy, laid back vibe. The grey colour palette makes it feel refined and modern but one certainly gets the sense that Plate is the kind of place that's equally good for both casual get-togethers and business lunches.
Allow your palate to travel through Indonesian, Singaporean and the Malay peninsula at Plate, a one-stop dining destination for fragrant flavours.
Plate, Underground Floor of Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Road / Call 02-090-7888, visit www.carltonhotel.co.th/dining/plate-restaurant.