Saawaan debuts a new chef de cuisine and a seasonal menu
Taking the reins at Saawaan is chef Saritwat "Earth" Wanvichitkun, whose first menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant still follows its core concept of focusing on traditional Thai techniques for each course but with his distinct style and flair.
Chef Earth's Phuket roots come into play in the menu, with inspiration coming from his family. "The menu is about my journey and my childhood spent in the South of Thailand and in Penang, Malaysia. It's also about my travels around Thailand," says the chef. At Saawaan on Soi Suan Phlu, begin the eight-course meal (B2.490++ for food and B1,990++ with wine pairing) with four amuse bouches, all delicately served and rather unusual. The main course begins with one of my favourite ingredients, from my favourite place. The "Raw" course is a French Utah Beach Jean-Paul oyster, served with som saa and oxystelma. Normally the oyster is served with tamarind juice, but Saawaan's version is marinated with tamarind juice, shallots and som saa. Served in its shell, open it like you've just discovered a pearl, mix it and eat it. Delish!
Chef Saritwat Wanvichitkun.
Moving on to "Fermented", which features grilled river prawn from Surat Thani, served with housemade rice noodles, herbs and a sauce of tai pla, which is normally made with southern Thai fermented fish entrails. The sauce uses mackerel, also from Surat Thani, which is marinated with 10 different kinds of herbs, which come from the restaurant's farm in Nakhon Pathom, for two hours. Beautiful and refined but unmistakably southern. I like the pungency that comes from the South and this dish brought it to the Bangkok table. The "Boiled" course takes inspiration from chef Earth's grandmother's tom kati nuea khem or coconut soup with salted beef. "I have given the soup my twist by presenting it two ways. Araignee, a small and flavourful cut from French Charolais beef, is used in both salted, crispy beef and cut into thin raw strips. This is accompanied with an extremely complex, rich beef and coconut broth, heart of palm and pickled shallots to elevate and refine this classic," explains the chef.
The "Miang" course is prepared tableside and is mélange of crab! Brittany Tourteau crab, blue swimmer crab, Samut Sakhon mud crab and rice paddy crab is where the land meets the sea. A medley of herbs and juices are mixed in to create the miang. The "Charcoal" course uses Ranong catfish with hairy aubergine and wild honey bamboo shoots. The "Stir-fried" uses Kanchanaburi wild boar and look riang or parkia seeds with housemade kab-moopa or sausages.
Another standout is the "Curry" course. I haven't had a green curry in ages and was absolutely delighted with chef Earth's version. For this dish, chef Earth has worked closely with Kasetsart University Kamphaeng Saen Campus University to fashion a green curry paste using as many of their chillies as possible to create a deep and well-rounded curry. This is served with in-house, dry-aged duck breast from Madame Burgaud in Challans, France. Also featured are a duck skin crumble, herbs and vegetables to complement and echo the many layers in the curry.
Moving into the dessert course from pastry chef Arisara "Paper" Chongphanitkul, who has once again, designed a dessert which is clearly Thai and modern. Chef Paper has cleverly fused the classic Thai dessert of khanom chan with French opera cake, creating a (literally) multi-layered dish that is bursting with the flavour of tropical fruits. The dish is completed with a jasmine ice cream and aromatic black rice sauce.
The new menu is accompanied by a specially curated wine pairing featuring a selection of grape varietals from both Old and New World wine regions, though you can always opt for the non-alcoholic fermented drinks and juice pairing. Visit saawaan.com.