Embark on La Pasta Vita at the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
I’ve often maintained that the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok has some of the more intriguing F&B outlets in the city, each with their own distinct point of view. Ms. Jigger, their cocktail bar and restaurant that serves Italian fare under the purview of Piedmont Chef Danilo Aiassa, is no exception. Named after a fictitious femme fatale with a penchant for pasta and travel, Ms. Jigger prides itself on being narrative-driven, with a story behind every choice, from the fixtures to the cocktails.
Having sampled the restaurant a few times for dinner, and been charmed by its sophisticated mien, elegant furnishings, and atmospheric lighting, visiting it for lunch was a different experience altogether. During the day, the space transforms into a welcoming, urbane bistro, with end-to-end windows that look out into lush verdure and draw the eye towards the sun-drenched patio. The natural light brings out the lighter tones in the room, from the marble-topped tables, light wood walls, and chairs in chic cream upholstery.
FOOD AND DRINK
Ms. Jigger has a separate menu for lunch, but their commitment to fresh ingredients and authentic tastes remains the same. Although regular à la carte options abound, you can also opt for their lunch specials, which are handwritten on a board for you to peruse, or – my personal suggestion – try their Lunch Set (THB 890++) which includes a choice of starters, mains, and desserts, as well as a soft drink, coffee, or tea.
We started off with the Artichoke (THB 350), a dish that always excites me as good artichoke is a rarity in Bangkok. Fried rather than boiled, the preparation elevated its distinct nutty aftertaste, which was complemented by the balsamic vinegar drizzled over it. If you ordered a lunch set, I would recommend the Caprese salad to start with, which combined buffalo mozzarella, vine ripe tomatoes, and pesto sauce in perfect proportions. For the mains in our lunch set, we chose the Flank wagyu scalloppina steak, which fans of the lean cut will know requires a deft touch to prepare well. Needless to say, it was tender and sliced in so delicate a manner the expertise in the kitchen was obvious, but my personal highlight was the baked garlic on the side, that added exactly the kind of relish the indulgence deserved.
Don’t miss out on the Focaccia mascarpone (THB 590), which arrived at our table with plenty of profusions of delight from us all, as we could smell the truffle oil from a metre away. Filling in the best way, I was pleased to see that it wasn’t too oily, as plenty of focaccia is wont to be. Finally, we concluded our meal with our choice of dessert from the set, the Ms. Jigger tiramisu. I’ve often said that good tiramisu is hard to find, as it can either be too dry or too syrupy for my taste, but I was delighted to find that this one hit the spot – and more, as the punch of Bailey’s Irish cream was evident from that first bite.
No meal as decadent as this, however, is complete without libations, and Ms. Jigger had introduced a few more to its extensive list of narrative cocktails. An experience from start to finish, I admit I was extremely trigger-happy with my camera and Instagram stories when they were being made. The Estella (THB 490) was a feast for all the senses – Cachaça, Cynar, Italian vermouth, coconut crème and cardamom are flash frozen in an outsized glass bowl, creating a spectacle of billowing smoke, and the resulting sorbet is then served with prosecco on the side. An unusual pairing, it’s refreshing in the extreme. The Maid in a bubble (THB 340), in the meantime, takes advantage of the recent trend of bubble-gun drinks and is suited more for those who have more piquant tastes – the driftwood smoke offset the sweetness of the coconut cider, mixed with the jackfruit oleo.
A drink that we unanimously loved, however, was the Mad & nutty tea thyme (THB 420) which consists of Peruvian Pisco, thyme-infused grappa, orange blossom essence, and chocolate absinthe, but the best and most surprising part was that it was brewed with homemade apple and mixed nut earl grey tea, and served piping hot. I was sceptical at first but the first taste made me a believer.
If you’re like me and crave a good tale of intrigue, make sure to skim through the backstories of all the cocktails, which will only increase your enjoyment of each sip.
The Spaghettoni with lobster (THB 1,500) was a runaway favourite among us. Served in a hefty pot with dough baked over the top that you must cut away to release the savoury aromas within, the stew-like dish is steeped in flavour and has generous servings of lobster for that sybaritic touch.
The Himitsu (secret) garden (THB 590), which mixed black sake and chocolate ganache with homemade coffee liqueur and local honey, is dessert in liquid form, and is romance embodied: booze, flowers, and chocolate are served in a terracotta pot artfully arranged with edible flowers.
Ground floor, Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, 78 Soi Ton Son, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330 Open for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm on weekends
Open daily for dinner from 5.30pm to 12:00am
Tel: 02 056 9999