Down memory lane

Old favourites delight at Taan Bangkok

Chef Monthep Kamonsilp. (Photos: Taan Bangkok)

One of the best ways to make a comeback into the world of F&B after a Covid hiatus is to bring back old favourites, if merely to jog people's memories of the food served.

Taan, the rooftop fine dining restaurant of Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok, has done precisely this, under the helm of executive chef Monthep "Thep" Kamonsilp. "Prode", which translates as "favourite" in Thai, marks the restaurant's reopening and takes diners of a nine-course journey down memory lane. The menu (B2,890++) showcases a selection of dishes from Taan's three-year journey. "The Prode menu showcases Taan's favourite ways of conveying local wisdom. We have had some fun reconstructing Thai food through adventurous techniques; there are no boundaries. Each dish is different than the ones before but they still put an emphasis on local ingredients," says chef Thep.

After an amuse bouche, begin the meal with Lobster chae nam pla, a play on one of my favourite Thai dishes, which normally uses prawn. Raw lobster is served with caviar and freshwater fish sauce. Typically, fish sauce comes from seaside towns, but this one comes from the North and is made from freshwater fish. It is tangy in terms of saltiness and brings out the sweetness of the lobster. The sturgeon caviar is sourced from Hua Hin and the roe is procured by massaging it out of the fish; sustainability at its best!

The Pla bu, an umami combination of roasted bamboo, Yala goby, with its scales intact, and Isan-style ya-nang mushroom sauce, which is a new approach to traditional Isan food. You first taste the bamboo salad with the sauce and then eat the fish to get the most out of the dish. Golae talay takes inspiration from the southern Thai delicacy of grilled chicken, but uses seafood from Surat Thani and sweet longan from the North. In this dish, chef Thep uses squid, fish and oyster. The Pak moh sao nam or grouper with popped rice, fermented fish and pineapple is a combination of two Thai cuisines; the Northeast and the Central Region. At this point, the menu may seem a tad heavy on the seafood and chef Thep explains, "In Thailand, we have lots of diversity in our cuisines and one of the best things we offer is our seafood dishes."

Prode Nitipol14

One of the best soups I had would be the Run juan or shrimp paste soup served with pork dumplings and deep-fried brined pork tendon. Using the French technique to make a consommé, chef Thep makes the clear soup from shrimp paste and adds a lemongrass pickle. Nothing better than sipping the soup while you're within eyesight of the Bangkok skyline, watching the rain come down on the city. The northern classic of Kua ham or deep-fried braised pork belly with frog legs is served with grilled banana leaf-wrapped sticky rice. Frog legs are marinated with chilli paste and then stir-fried until dried. The dish also includes the much overlooked northern Thai herb, ko son.

Jaew hon or Isan squid soup is served with top round beef and prawn fat paste, which is chef Thep's surf and turf dish. The dish uses beef from Nong Khai and squid ink for the soup. While enjoyable, the beef needed a touch of salt to flavour it as the soup and the tomalley paste did not deliver the salinity you get from a sprinkle of salt.

Run juan .

Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of congee; add one of my favourite ingredients to the mix and you have a winner in the Black chicken rice congee. A heartwarming mix that uses crispy pork belly, northern crab paste and Royal Project black chicken with southern staples like bitter beans and krill sauce, along with milled jasmine rice, the dish is an unusual main but so hearty. Century egg replaces the egg in the dish and the black chicken comes from the North. To get the essence of the dish, taste each element separately before mixing it to enjoy it. Dessert is the Thai-Hai­nanese Tao thueng, which is served with coconut pandan ice cream, black sesame and a longan Thai meringue.

"In the last three years, we have seen a lot of changes. We've seen our artisans develop their products and skills in ways previously unimaginable. For example, there are fishermen who are now using the Japanese ikejime technique with Thai fish, which brings a new level of flavour and texture," adds chef Thep. Aside from the new Prode menu, Taan has returned with a revived ambience; fresh greenery, refined lighting and a ceiling installation accentuate the dining room's magnificent 180-degree panoramic view of the Bangkok skyline. Call 065-328-7374, Line: @taanbangkok or visit taanbangkok.com.



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