Two innovative chefs Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones believe that the best Thai restaurants should be found in Thailand, with that in mind, Bo.lan, a concept fine dining Thai cuisine in Bangkok by using ancient recipes and fresh local ingredients with a Western twist was founded. mylifestylenews travels to Bangkok to find out what's behind the scene……
Two 8 courses and 10 courses degustation classic Thai menu were offered starting with an aperitif, a Thai rice spirit whisky with herbs and honey and a toothpick laid across the top of the glass with green mango and tamarind dipped in chili and soy. A spray bottle of pandan water that was to be sprayed into the mouth after drinking the rice ‘whisky’, which sounded great, but we couldn’t make the connection to what the intent was for all this ‘to do’. Too much hard work for too little outcome, the edible fresh flower doing no actual palatable effort but just as garnish.
The first set of dishes reminded us of simple Thai food: pickled mustard greens, a northern-style Thai rice noodle salad with grilled pork neck, sour mango and peanut dressing, a spicy chicken salad with sun-dried chili and cabbage on the side with kaffir leaves and fried shallots, and a black sticky rice pancake with prawn and garlic.
With further anticipation on the next dish, the single plate of the day was a grilled sticky rice in bamboo covered by a sizable cut banana leaf with Thai chicken curry, longan fruit and sun-dried pork with pepper on top. The sticky rice was flavourful but too soggy while the minuscule sun-dried pork was bursting with meaty flavor which we thoroughly enjoyed.
There are too much going on into a lot of detail in the presentation and when the basic elements being deconstructed and suppose to bring it to a high level of enjoyment, the ingredients are not something we would call particularly special, but just consistently quality ingredients.
The level of spice in the beef curry was most welcome but the chicken dish was confusing as the chicken was minced and mixed with aubergine in a very small portion with difficulty in detecting the chicken point blank, we couldn’t help but wonder what was the intent of the menu description?
Still struggle find the niche from the evening dining experience, the desserts came next. There are two parts of dessert, the pre-dessert a was local mixed fruit served with “Tab Tim Grob” – a common Thai street dessert served with water chestnut rubies, jack fruit, coconut Agar Agar and shaved ice, finished with jasmine scented coconut cream.
We love Thai food and we avidly eat Thai street food when in Thailand and were anticipating some extraordinary food after all we have read about this high profile restaurant. As it happened, we were not that surprised at all and we felt that reconstructed elevated Thai street food is served with some dishes felt rather flat and without any ‘WOW’ element.
Looks isn’t everything especially when it comes to food, after all, what you need is an enjoyable meals to satisfy your craving. Moreover, the service staff has a lot of detail to impart for each dish presentation, it is too ambitious and difficult to get on board with everything, as it all seems just too complicated and difficult to always understand what each ingredient is in every multi-ingredient dish.
The evening was quite a journey of delicate to very spicy flavours, but after analyzing the ingredients and breaking down what each dish was in its essence, we came to the conclusion that the chefs have gone to a lot of trouble to create interesting ‘platings’ and aim to impress diners (especially those who are new to Thai food) with food that maybe they have never experienced before or have experienced, but not in this fussy way.
It is all comes down to what is the intent and we feel that the dishes are essentially referencing the favourites you find on the street with some elevated ingredient quality, but this does not change the reality of the situation.