Mall food for the socially distanced crowd

Iconsiam bellwethers offer delivery services for the hungry at home

At this moment I do not believe in eating out. Even though new Covid-19 cases have been declining and restaurants are welcoming dine-in customers back, I, with my second jab scheduled for next week, prefer to continue social distancing.

Of course, I miss shopping malls as much as I sympathise with eateries there. I know you miss them too.

So go support them should you feel the need. Show up. Or otherwise stay home and order takeout.

Here are three restaurants at Iconsiam that offer takeaway and delivery worthy of support.

Pan-grilled river prawns with tamarind glaze and crispy shallots.

Baan Khanitha The Heritage

Since 1993 Baan Khanitha, one of Bangkok's best-known Thai restaurants, has offered fine Thai cuisine that celebrates traditional recipes and fresh local produce.

Its latest branch at Iconsiam, dubbed Baan Khanitha The Heritage, opened in 2019.

From the restaurant's sweeping selection of exquisite a la carte dishes, available for takeaway and delivery, mu sarong mee sua Phuket (250 baht) is the most recommended starter.

These old-fashioned Thai nibbles are prepared with seasoned minced pork shaped into bite-sized balls and neatly wrapped with fine egg noodles before being deep-fried. The crispy pork balls are served with sweet, sour and spicy fresh chilli sauce and vegetables.

Cassod tree curry with grilled pork and a side of fried fish.

For main dishes to eat with rice, goong thod sauce makham, or pan-grilled river prawns with tamarind glaze and crispy shallots (690 baht) exhibited its top quality through the plump and meaty crustaceans. The sweet and salty, caramel-like sauce perfectly enhanced the delicate-tasting prawns. It's a delicious combination of palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind paste, crispy deep-fried shallots and roasted dried chillies.

The restaurant's rendition of lhon pla kurau (380 baht), a coconut cream-based relish flavoured with salt-cured fish, reminded me of the comforting taste of my late grandma's cooking.

The dish showcased a sweet, salty and grainy mixture of coconut cream simmered with preserved soy beans, minced pork and salt-cured threadfin fish, a premium artisan produce from Tak Bai district in Thailand's Deep South province of Narathiwat. Accompanying the relish was an assortment of fresh organically grown vegetables, namely white turmeric, string beans, okra, eggplant, cabbage and Indian pennywort.

A coconut cream-based relish flavoured with salt-cured threadfin fish.

Equally impressive was gaeng khi lek mu yang or cassod tree curry with grilled pork (390 baht). The dish features thick curry made with red curry paste, coconut milk, fingerroot and bitter khi lek leaves, which are high in vitamin C and calcium, while meaty slices of grilled pork lent to the dish a pleasant chew. The curry is also served with a side item of pla salid thod, or fried snakeskin gourami.

Another dish specially highighted for the rainy season is gaeng liang goong sod, or herb-flavoured vegetable soup with prawn (290 baht).

The muddy-hued soup, believed to help boost immunity against cold, was prepared with various Thai vegetables and herbs including gourd, pumpkin, shallots, hairy basil and mushroom and seasoned with white pepper and shrimp paste.

Baan Khanitha The Heritage opens 11am-10pm. To place your order directly at the restaurant, call 02-288-0414 and 081-141-6080. Delivery service is available via Foodpanda. For more information, visit baan-khanitha.com.

The vegetarian dahi ke kebab with hung yoghurt.

Masala Art

Masala Art is a fine Indian restaurant that debuted in 2010, with a culinary direction inspired by a royal blend of spices and an ancient holistic concept of Ayurveda.

The cuisine here mainly take cues from Northern Indian recipes with more than 100 items of strictly vegetarian to meat dishes on the menu.

You can find anything from deep-fried kurkuri bhindi okra to keema puff; achari jheenga prawn to tandoori-grilled marinated cualiflower; and paneer lawabdar cheese to chana pindi chickpea.

You will never regret having the restaurant's chicken rogani tikka (350 baht). It's one of the best in town.

This heavenly treat features cubes of fresh chicken meat marinated with house-made yoghurt, ginger, garlic and other Indian spices before being cooked on a skewer in a tandoor. The spice-rubbed orange-hued chicken exhibited a brilliantly flame-grilled aroma, succulent texture and delicious taste, guaranteed to please even the most finicky diner.

Chicken rogani tikka.

I also fell in love with dal makhani, or lentil soup (250 baht). Of it, whole black lentils and kidney beans were cooked in butter and cream over low-heat wood fire for long hours until thickened and developed to a creamy taste and smoky fragrance.

Butter chicken (350 baht) was just as praiseworthy. This creamy curry featuring tender pieces of chicken in spiced tomato butter cream sauce proved scrumptious with a velvety delicate dessert-like mouthfeel.

Complementing the curry nicely were garlic naan bread (75 baht) and dahi ke kebab (295 baht), a very popular snack of north India featuring a fried vegetable patty stuffed with hung yoghurt.

I personally found royal-style biryani Hydrabadi with chicken (400 baht) a bit too strong for my taste. But my foodie teenage son really loved it.

Masala Art opens 11am-10pm. To place your order directly at the restaurant, call 02-288-0517 or 095-370-5744. For more information, visit masala-artbkk.com.

Guljak original fried chicken.

Guljak Topokki Chicken

The brand Guljak Topokki Chicken was first launched in 2014 in South Korea. Within six years, it has expanded to have more than 150 outlets throughout the country.

The cuisine, as its name suggests, centres on tteokbokki (stir-fried spicy rice cake) and Korean-styled fried chicken, the two most popular street food snacks in Korea.

Bangkok's edition of the brand, flocked mostly by young adults, opened in July last year on the 6th floor of Iconsiam.

From the menu, you cannot miss its original fried chicken (169 baht).

Juicy morsels of fresh chicken meat were coated in dry batter and deep-fried until golden brown. The fried chicken, served in a to-go paper box with a decent portion of French fries, provided a scrumptious mouthfeel that's not at all greasy.

If you are in for a pungent taste, there's another signature item, Kanpung chicken (189 baht), of which fried chicken came tossed in sweet and spicy sauce with cabbage, carrots and onions.

Of the tteokbokki section, Guljak Original Topokki Soup (289 baht) is a bestseller.

Original Topokki Soup with cheddar cheese topping.

It features reddish-hued broth in which cylinder-shaped sticky rice cakes, thin slices of fish cake, leeks and boiled egg came bathing.

Although I was at first bite intimidated by the sugary taste of the soup, I found later on that the odd combination of the ingredients was interesting and quite addictive. Adding a rich milky taste to the spicy sweet soup was a molten topping of mild cheddar cheese.

There's also Buedae Topokki Soup (289 baht), a unification of Korean classic tteokbokki soup, American luncheon meat, onions, noodles and cheddar cheese.

Recommended to be enjoyed with the flavourful soup was Korean rice ball sprinkled with crispy nori seaweed, furikake and toasted sesame seeds (99 baht).

Guljak Topokki Chicken opens 11am-10pm. To place your order directly at the restaurant, call 02-108-1838, 065-504-4455. Delivery service is available via Robinhood, Grab Food, Line Man and Foodpanda. For more information, visit Facebook: GuljakThailand or Line: @GuljakThailand.

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