Thai cuisine may be sublime but in Bangkok one is spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining whether one heads to old time favourites or spanking new establishments. TNA visits some of Krungthep's finest in the recently reopened city of angels.
Siam Anantara Bangkok
The Siam Anantara may be one of the city's oldest fine dining bastion but its newest culinary concept has injected a dose of hip into its stoically classical courtyard. Guilty Bangkok dishes out Peruvian flavours that is still a rarity in Asia, but in forms that are not entirely foreign. Think guacamole and tortillas, wagyu striploin and Fine de Claire oysters. The vibe here surges from pop-art spectrums interjecting beige and browns, making this restaurant a grade A balancing act both aesthetically and culinarily.
The Sukothai Bangkok
One of Bangkok's most established fine dining Thai restaurant, Celadon has a giant reputation to maintain and we visited on its opening night after its closure throughout much of Thailand's COVID episode. We are comforted that chef Rosarin is still churning out classical favourites like massaman curry, tom yam kung and the restaurant's famous pad thai. It is true that the dishes here are more attuned to foreign palates but that also means that some dishes are more 'progressive' and inventive, like the duck confit spring roll and fried grouper with 3-flavour sauce that we've sampled at this seating. They were masterfully prepared and quite delicious.
The Sukhothai Bangkok
Back in 2018 La Scala was one of our most exciting gourmet find in Bangkok and we had returned expecting an elevation. While it has certainly evolved, we'd rather it hadn't. At least not this much. Being non-Italian means we don't have baggages with authenticity and that proverbial 'mama's taste', but it would be nice that gazpacho didn't come with inundated pasta and let it also be said that pizzas need no covers. Even the highly recommended pigeon was encumbered with needless pastry and an overwrought foam. The balance point between conceptual and comforting here needs to be restored.
Sindhorn Kempinski Bangkok
While Japan is still cut off from the world, Ki Izakaya offers comforting pub grubs amidst an elegant milieu that might take one back to the smoky stretches of Roppongi in Tokyo. The outstanding entrees to order here are the Hamaguri Sakemushi and the Onsen Tamago. The Katsu Sando was slightly overdone and the kushiyaki and robata items could have benefitted from more seasoning. Our dessert, the ice yuzu and chilli, was an outstanding melange of surprising flavours.
Riva Del Fiume Ristorante
Four Seasons Bangkok
This sleek riverside Italian restaurant is the brainchild of executive chef Andrea Accordi who hails from Piedmont, incidentally the birthplace of the slow food movement in Italy. The menu has thus richly benefitted from Accordi's adherence to classical methods and flavours, resulting in lovely dishes made from the choicest ingredients from Italy like Sciacca Anchovies, Piennolo Tomato and Taggiasca Olives. Premium meat and seafood like Japanese flounder, Iberico suckling pig and Mayura Wagyu also feature largely in an extensive menu that maps out all that is flavoursome and Italian. The controfiletto is both an art to behold and a joy to devour.
Yu Ting Yuan
Four Seasons Bangkok
Yu Ting Yuan is currently Bangkok's culinary address du jour with a weeks-long waiting list fresh off its Michelin triumph. It is admittedly Bangkok's only 1-star Chinese restaurant, helmed by a capable chef poached from one of Guangzhou's most renowned joints. In terms of its interiors, Jean-Mitchel Gathy had raised a space that is winsomely modern yet culturally attuned. Culinarily the menu comes replete with most Cantonese classics that are artfully injected with a lightness that departs from Thai style Chinese-fares. Freshness here is easily perceptible while the mastery comes through in complicated dishes like braised abalone and suckling pig skin. The baked dim sums were a tad too 'puffy' for my liking and the fried rice was overly 'al dente'. Ultimately it was the flavoursome double-boiled sea whelk soup that was the proof in the pudding because entry level Chinese soups are the most often overlooked yet the most definitive course for the appreciative diner.
Cote by Mauro Colagreco
Cote by Mauro Colagreco, a 3-star superlative who lent more than just his name to this impeccable establishment, is our star find in Bangkok this round. Seldom do we adore highly conceptualised nouveau fares but if there is a crown concept to this restaurant, it would be ingenuity. Left to the creative talents of a French-Italian team hand-picked by Colagreco, the menu in this elegant light-drenched space is ever-changing with spirited ensembles that are chiefly determined by ingredients and imagination. We sampled a single divine mussel encased in jelly, a duo of fried brioche topped with desiccated truffles, a zesty green tomato salad, a foamy mash with an avalanche of black truffles and a classical assemblage of duck with rich sauce. The latter was the only dish that didn't sit well with this reviewer, as all gamey poultry tend not to, but everything else was dispatched avec enthousiasme. Desserts ended the gourmet session on a sweet high note, with a deconstructed cake and ice-cream ensemble, perfectly light madeleines and the most respectable petit fours we've not seen in quite a while.
What is Bangkok's best breakfast restaurant in the morning morphs into the city's rising fine dining Thai restaurant from lunch with an extensive menu that lists good old Thai nibbles, salads, soups, curries, mains and desserts with a side of Western. Forget about the Western because one can dine here for an entire week and still not try every item on the Thai menu, not just because of the choices, but because one is bound to stick religiously to some of one's favourites after the initial go. Favourites like the red duck curry, the wok-fried kurobuta crispy pork belly with kale and the wok-fried morning glory. The dilemma with opting for fine dining Thai food is principally cost - why would anyone want to pay more at a fine dining Thai restaurant when the authentic, cheaper versions are so plentiful out in the city? Well the same can be asked of Chinese food in Guangzhou and perhaps Indian food in Delhi. If you cook and present it well, they would come, and that is the principal allure at Phra Nakhon.
The Standard Bangkok
When word was on the wind that the new restaurant at the crown of the Mahanakhon is going to be a Mexican restaurant, one can barely understand the logic and impetus behind it. When one finally arrived at the incandescent space with the billion dollar view, the honest confession is that one couldn't really care less about what one is having for dinner. Even a trip to the toilet generated more excitement than what is on the menu. When the food arrived, one's opinion was immediately corrected and Olé, it was good. The general manager at Ojo explained that Mexican food is conceptually similar to Thai food with its liberal use of fresh herbs and ingredients, and therefore would be readily accepted in Thailand. And with each sampling of the zesty salads, flavoursome dips and colourful entrees that were served, he wasn't wrong. The bone marrow was such a surprising delight and the roasted baby pig was a heavenly treat (served so far off the ground too). When the view and design of this sensational restaurant could have so easily supplanted the cuisine, it was the spirited Mexican fares that ended up stealing the show.