Where to go to indulge in a taste of the past.
By Ashima Sethi
As the years go by, it’s exciting to see more and more Thai restaurants achieving the acclaim they deserve on the world stage, whether it be in on the annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list or inside the pages of the Michelin Guide Thailand. In 2018, one of the first to receive this kind of acclaim was Saneh Jaan, when the restaurant was awarded one Michelin star, an accolade it has maintained throughout the years thanks to its high quality cuisine and commitment to preserving recipes that have been passed on for generations. The name ‘Saneh Jaan’ roughly translates to the ‘charm of myristica fragrans’, and references a Thai sweet that is often served at auspicious events. The restaurant’s name reiterates its ethos to preserve time-honoured recipes that are now hard to come by.
Located inside the Glasshouse at Sindhorn Tower, the restaurant’s design is elegant and contemporary. Beyond dark wooden doors lies the intimately lit main dining room with high ceilings, dark wooden tables fit for groups of all sizes, and booth-style seats adorned with cushions. In keeping with the restaurant’s mission to blend elements of the past with the present, walls are decorated with striking historical photos of Bangkok, and collections of poems composed by famed writer Naowarat Pongpaiboon.
Adjacent to the dining area is a lounge with a striking wooden bar at its heart. Diners are encouraged to have a tipple or two here before sitting down for dinner as the restaurant boasts an impressive drinks list curated by award-winning mixologists. The restaurant also offers a private dining room fitted with a long table that is perfect for family dinners and intimate functions.
The menu offers a mix of classic dishes and heritage recipes served as family-style sharing plates. To begin, we ordered the River prawns with choo chee sauce (THB 780). Undoubtedly one of my favourite kinds of seafood due to the juiciness of its meat, the prawn’s naturally sweet and buttery flavour is elevated by a smoky red curry-style sauce infused with hints of coconut and kaffir lime, making for a true explosion of flavour in each bite.
Moving on, we sampled one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, the Green curry (THB 450). Usually prepared with chicken or tender cuts of rib eye beef, we opted for the vegetarian variation that had plenty of leafy vegetables and generous chunks of tofu. As someone who prefers curries that are on the more piquant side, Saneh Jaan’s rendition was vibrant and well-spiced with my favourite aromas of galangal, green chillies, and kaffir lime cutting straight through the smoky base.
Another vegetarian dish that we savoured was the restaurant’s take on pad kraphao. Originally listed on the menu as Stir-fried Australian rib eye with holy basil (THB 580), we were delighted to discover that many of Saneh Jaan’s signature dishes can be adapted for non-meat eaters. The Stir-fried tofu with holy basil had all the elements one would crave from an authentic kraphao dish, particularly crispy basil leaves that added a peppery taste to the plate. It’s recommended to pair the dish one of their rice options, spanning brown or white rice from the renowned Thung Kula Ronghai province that produces khao hom mali, also known
as jasmine rice.
If you enjoy meatier mains, opt for the Grilled Kurobuta pork with Northeastern style dip (THB 580), an elevated take of one of my favourite dishes, moo yang with nam jim jaew. Known as one of the best cuts of pork in the world, the meat is incredibly juicy with a naturally smoky taste to it. This essence is heightened when paired with the Isan-style dipping sauce that is both sweet and sour, with the distinct nutty flavour of the toasted
rice powder, or khao khua adding to its complexity. Delicious with the sticky rice side dish and drizzled onto the succulent cuts of pork, the sauce was very moreish.
To end the meal, we tucked into the restaurant’s Golden Thai dessert(THB 300), a platter of sweets, each emblematic of an aspect of Thai culture. Khanom thong ek are golden sweets carved to look like flowers that are served at auspicious ceremonies; Foy thong are egg yolk threads that symbolise gold threads meant to bring good luck; Thong yod are golden balls that represent continuous wealth; all of which are served among other delicacies as part of an enjoyable final plate.
To pair with your meal, Saneh Jaan’s drink menu is extensive, encompassing signature cocktails, wine, local spirits, and more. My favourite from their list was the Apple mojito (THB 250) crafted from fresh green apple, lime juice, mint leaves, syrup, and soda; it was the perfect thirst quencher when paired with the restaurant’s smoky signature dishes. Other recommended refreshments include the Tropical delight (THB 250), a zesty concoction of lychee, mango puree, lime juice, basil leaves and soda, as well as the Watermelon mango lemonade (THB 250) that combines fresh lemon with watermelon juice, mango puree, and refreshing lemon soda.
A unanimous favourite, Saneh Jaan’s Pomelo salad with crispy shrimp and minced pork (THB 390) is not to be missed. Consisting of generous chunks of fresh pomelo, juicy fresh shrimps, dried crispy shrimps or goong haeng, and seasoned minced pork that has been tossed in a vibrant tamarind and chilli paste sauce, the flavours are bold but blend together nicely for a truly memorable dish.