By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Find seventh heaven with plates of eight in The Peninsula Bangkok’s acclaimed Mei Jiang restaurant, where their soon-to- be-unveiled “Eight Elements” menu takes gourmet Cantonese dining to new heights.
Perfection will soon come in measures of eight at The Peninsula Bangkok’s acclaimed Mei Jiang restaurant, which recently welcomed the celebrated Chef Ball Yau, their new Chinese Cuisine Executive Chef. Masala was recently given a sneak peek into Mei Jiang’s upcoming “Eight Elements” menu slated to be revealed this July, which curates some of Chef Yau’s best masterpieces.
When you walk through Mei Jiang’s doors, you’re immediately enveloped in a cocoon of serenity spun by the soft eggshell white of the walls and delicate blue of the tablecloths, and offset by wooden furnishings, warm red chairs, and floor-to- ceiling glass windows that draw in the brilliant colours of the garden outside. Unique Chinese touches elevate the space: elegant curios and carved statuettes sit in glass displays; cultural icons watching over guests with aplomb. Lilting strains of Chinese melodies filter through the tranquil space which can comfortably seat over 100 guests, although parties looking for a more intimate meal can opt for one of five elegantly-appoint- ed private rooms behind stately wooden doors.
As a concept, Mei Jiang’s “Eight Elements” menu is self- indulgent in the best ways; a celebration of skill, innovation, and good fortune. Revolving around the number eight, the luckiest number according to Chinese tradition, the eight- course meal consists of gourmet dishes that contain eight unique but complementary ingredients that combine to delectable effect. We were given an exclusive taste of six of the eight courses that will be available to the public this July; each course building upon the last to create an exponentially epicurean experience. Although the menu consists of a dynamic mix of meats, seafood, and vegetable dishes, a purely vegetarian, but no less scrumptious, version of the menu can be made available upon request.
Our meal began with Raw red grouper finely sliced sashimi- style and delicately wrapped around eight types of pickled vegetable to create an array of exquisite dumplings. When biting into each wrap, the lightness of the fish immediately gives way to the crunch of the mystery ingredient inside, releasing an unexpected punch of flavour – whether it’s the pungent spice of ginger or the freshness of bamboo. For a vegetarian alternative, we were served Preserved pumpkin with plum sauce in an intricate floral arrangement; a piquant feast for the both the eyes and the taste buds.
The second course, BBQ pig, consists of Iberico ham from Spain (or a mushroom faux-ham alternative) barbecued to perfection to bring out the juiciest flavours, and elevated by a mix of seven different sauces, from Shaoxing wine to lavender honey. The eighth element, gold leaf garnish, is the crowning element of this truly royal treat. The soup course, Boiled chicken, is a double-boiled chicken (or tofu) broth with eight different types of herbs, spices and even fruit, surprisingly light despite its robust flavours. In each sip, the sharpness of the ginseng cuts through, creating the perfect palate cleanser before the next course.
I can’t recommend enough the Steamed dumpling which came after. This exquisite concoction contains eight different types of seafood in a deceptively simple package, including premier ingredients such as king crab, lobster, and caviar; the entire mouthful is a toothsome homage to the bounty of the sea. We tried the Stir-fried mushrooms next, another culinary triumph that deftly blends eight different types of mushroom – from black truffle to porcini – into a perfect sphere of savoury goodness. Mixed with tofu and crispy bean curd for texture, every bite is a delightful discovery.
The grand finale was the Sweet Thailand dessert, a dish comprised of eight different preparations of local fruits, ranging from bean curd-stuffed rambutan, to melt-in-your-mouth fried banana, to a zesty cupful of mangosteen sorbet. Presented in an inviting line, the dessert is designed to be eaten from left to right for the optimal transition between the tropical flavours. By the end of the impeccably prepared menu, I could certainly say that I “eight” my fill – and more!
Mei Jiang boasts a selection of 50 different teas, all 100 percent certified organic. For the “Eight Elements” menu, guests are served a different tea to complement each course. We started with Arun white tea, a light brew from Chiang Mai. To offset the heavier courses, we had herbal Longjing green tea from Hangzhou, China, followed by a more bitter Gongfu black tea to pair with the flavoursome mushroom dish. Finally, with the dessert, we sipped on Blue fly tea, a refreshing concoction of lemongrass and butterfly pea that was the perfect full stop to the menu’s masterful story of culinary innovation.
Ground floor, The Peninsula Bangkok
333 Charoen Nakhon Road, Khlong San, 1060
Lunch: Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm
Dinner: Open daily from 6pm to 10.30pm
Dress code: Smart casual
Tel: 02 020 2888