Feels like summer

The new chef at Elements Bangkok brings freshness to the table

Chef Gerard Villaret Horcajo.

Elements, inspired by Ciel Bleu, at the Okura Prestige Bangkok has not only unveiled its new summer menu, it has also welcomed the arrival of chef Gerard Villaret Horcajo.

The "Summer Guestronomic Journey Set Menu" ("Mizu", an eight-course experience priced at B5,900++, "Chikyu", a six-course experience priced at B4,600++ and "Ku-Ki', a four-course experience priced at B3,800++), is an indulgence in freshness and light flavours with a focus on seasonal ingredients. "The inspiration of this menu comes from the summer ingredients in Europe and Japan, combined with my six months of living in Bangkok. Understanding what the Thais like and what my regular guests enjoy is imperative, so this is why a few of the dishes are the same compared to the last menu, with only the garnish changing for the season. We have also created new dishes for guests who want to have new experiences while recognising the flavours of elements. I have looked back at what we used to do, what we are doing now and combine the two," says chef Gerard.

The meal begins with three small bites, my favourite being the Crispy chicken skin with fresh blue prawns. The second part of the appetiser includes a potato chip with home-cured trout. This is served with two tartlets, both have a strong focus on Thai flavours. The new version of the Hamachi features one of my favourite herbs, lemon balm, with oyster cream and rhubarb, which are quite hot this season on Bangkok fine dining plates. A dish I much enjoy is the Smoked Dutch eel with Kureson (Japanese for watercress) sauce, crème fraiche and Oscietra caviar, and I've had the pleasure of eating it twice! I'm very partial to Langoustines and chef Gerard cooks them on one side and serves it pickled green apples, ninjin foam (Japanese for carrots) and chamomile tea. A bit of kaffir lime powder is sprinkled on top to complete the dish.

Fleur de courgette a la Bargioule.

Norwegian wild cod.

Binchotan.

Langoustine.

Smoked eel.

The next course combines two of my favourite ingredients (though be warned, I have many). Hokkaido scallop is served with leeks, furikake and sea grapes. Though it's the Norwegian wild cod dish, which comes in two parts, that gets me excited. Served with spinach, takenoko (Japanese for bamboo shoots), a cockles veloute and a supplement of Otaru Hokkaido uni (B800++). The uni is natural and doesn't have any sulphates and is preserved in salted water, "which gives it more essence, makes it more light and easy to combine with Western cuisines", says the chef. The second part of the dish is served in a rather dramatic fashion and is the cod skin, deeply fried and topped with garlic cream and pickled bamboo.

"I always make sure I have one vegetarian course on my menu. Sometimes vegetables are not seen as premium products, so this is a smart way to introduce them to tasting menus. But we also have a vegetarian menu, if needed," says chef Gerard. The Fleur de courgette a la Barigoule is the season's best courgette flower served with a miso bechamel, black truffles and gyojya niniko. The courgette flower is filled with artichokes, which are also served crispy. For mains, the Kamichiku A5 Satsuma Wagyu doesn't disappoint with pommes Dauphine, shallot and umeboshi. Though dessert is a choice of two, Elements signature Binchotan is a must-order as it is so visually stunning. Served with Japanese Whisky, citrus and 43% milk chocolate, it is a dish that is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the palate. The seasonal dessert is the Shimizu peach, served with lemon verbena, soba and smoked vanilla (yum!).

The petite four or should I say wagashi includes something that is close to chef Gerard's heart. "The rose cookie is very special for me. My mother used to make it for me when I was a kid, but she makes a big one for the afternoon when one enjoys such a big cookie. Here we make it a little bit smaller."

The summer journey is light and full of scents and flavours inspired by summer flowers, fruits and vegetables. This is produced as nature intended, with ingredients that are in their prime, vibrant in colour and bursting with fresh flavour. If you're into housemade kombucha, I highly recommend the kombucha pairing (B1,400++). Visit okurabangkok.com. 


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