I believe that every chef should have a guiding philosophy, an overarching vision and design which drives the way the he or she cooks and translate into their dishes. For Bo (Duangporn Songvisava) and Dylan Jones, proteges of David Thompson of Nahm, it’s all about respecting classic Thai flavours and techniques, and making the best with local, seasonal produce.
Previously, I was just a tad skeptical about the idea of Thai “fine dining” cuisine. The street side grub were already brilliant, and how much could chefs possibly improve upon? Alleged fine dining Thai restaurants are endemic in Malaysia, and usually are not considered good value for money, and just plain disappointing. Most of them try consider themselves as “fusion” Thai cuisine, although the end product usually end up as con-fusion, with emphasis on the Con.
I’ve tried Nahm by David Thompson in September last year, and had a rather enjoyable meal. That being said, it was not quite the flavor bomb that I’m used to with the usual Thai fare. The flavours were subtle, and you could definitely taste every single ingredient that was incorporated in their dishes. Some dishes, like the fresh mango with fried shallots and coconut, was just bloody amazing with the perfect contrast of textures, and very intense flavours that truly highlighted the produce. With that, I was quite curious of what his proteges were capable of.
Located in a non-descript, quiet little Soi along Sukhumvit 26, lies the restaurant. We started early as to beat the curfew, and were the first to arrive. The friendly staff guided us into the restaurant, and thus we began the Bo.Lan experience.
Just to cool us off, a chilled pandanus drink was provided. It was a definite welcome to quench our thirst during a particularly scorching Bangkok summer.
Next, some rice crisps with chilli were served as a snack. Can’t really say no to crisps!
We chose the the Bo.Lan Balance meal, which is a 7-course meal not including the amuse bouche, showcasing the talents of the chefs. It was Thai cuisine like I’ve never had before, as the chefs had particular interest in replicating ancient Thai methods, with unique styles that are foreign to even Thais. Redolent of typical Thai cuisine with very intense flavor profiles, whilst using the best ingredients possible. Some definite highlights were the green curry “KU” beef, and the melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs cooked in the Lao-phaon style. I also particularly enjoyed the red curry with ocean fish on the bone.
One probable lowlight is the single dish of the day, which was noodles in a spicy coconut curry broth, and “otak-otak” or spicy fish cake cooked in a banana leaf. Although it was flavorful, with lime adding some brightness to the coconut broth, the dish was unfortunately, over-salted.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and perfect for a quiet dinner with friends, or for a romantic dinner. The dinner cost us 1980 baht a person, which is equivalent to about 45 Euros, and quite decent value for money compared the prices in Europe for this level of cookery.
Would I return here? Undoubtedly, yes. I’m quite excited about the possibilities of Thai cuisine, and hoping that their research in Ancient (or Bolan in Thai! Coincidence? I think not) methods might uncover something exciting and delicious, akin to what was done at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. If the dinner tonight was any indication, it should be pretty awesome.
I almost forgot that there was even a Coup d’etat. Better mosey along before the curfew kicks in.
Location: Enter Soi Sukhumvit 26 from Rama IV, take the left turn before the Four Wings hotel. Restaurant Website.