It’s easy to be swayed by the flavours of the southern coast of Italy.
By Mahmood Hossain
The Italians have a saying that sums up living a good life: “Buon cibo. Buon vino. Buon amici,” meaning good food, good wine, and good friends. Words I live by. And when the food happens to be Italian, consider me content and complete. This cuisine has been at the top of my list for as long as I can remember, alongside my growing obsession with everything Italian since I was a child. In other words, you could serve me Italian dishes all day, seven days a week, for the rest of my life, and you wouldn’t hear a single complaint. My non-existent Italian ancestors would be proud, as I never shy away from pouncing on the opportunity to taste and try some of the city’s best Italian food. Naturally, I was excited to visit OTTO Italian Restaurant at the exquisite MUU Bangkok Hotel, located in the trendy district of Thong Lo.
OTTO Italian Restaurant presents classic dishes adored in the south of Italy, which abuts the Tyrrhenian Sea. But of course, there is a modern, with a hint of the Mediterranean, twist to each dish and experience. It strives to deliver fine dining flavours of the Southern shores and the comfort and cosiness of the Italian countryside. Naturally, one would expect an authentic experience, feeling as if you’ve been transported to Italy by the country’s scents, flavours, and sounds. OTTO Italian Restaurant delivers on all three.
MUU Bangkok Hotel is a small luxury hotel, catering to those who seek sophisticated accommodations that champion the freedom of creativity and an evolved state of living. From the moment you walk into the lobby, you can sense the celebration of artistry, a space that reminds me of the fantastic blend of Neoclassical and contemporary architecture of Milan. This theme smoothly transitions into the entrance of OTTO, which sits on the 11th floor of the hotel, with a pleasant view of the expansive pool terrace just a few steps away.
Within a couple of steps into the restaurant, however, I felt as if I had been magically tossed into the Amalfi Coast. The interior décor seems to have been inspired by the handmade colourful ceramics of Vietri sul Mare and the iconic trees of sfusato-shaped lemons, hanging off picturesque terraced gardens in Positano. Elevating the atmosphere is a set of discreetly placed speakers in each corner of the restaurant, sounding off a playlist of authentic Italian songs that maintain the feel-good energy of OTTO Italian Restaurant. Moreover, I was convinced the air purifiers had infused fragrances of crisp citrus, subtle florals, and the cool breezes of Portofino. Either the last bit was simply a figment of my imagination or the restaurant did an incredible job of creating a pleasantly lasting ambience that kept the mind and body on the same coastal Italian plain.
Food & Drinks
After taking our time embracing our surroundings, my colleagues and I were welcomed with a Venetian original, a glass of chilled Bellini, which is a cocktail made with Prosecco and peach purée, and in this case, a slice of fresh peach comfortably reclining at the bottom of the champagne flute. Soon after, the mouthwatering dishes came into play. Even more alluring is how wonderfully each dish was plated, tempting our animalistic desire to devour every morsel of Italian fine dining without the guilt of ruining the exceptional plating.
First, we were served the Tartare di salmone (THB 490) from the list of antipasti, comprised of wild-caught salmon with capers, avocado, Thai herb lemon dressing, and caviar that tantalised the taste buds, smoothly delivering a balance of flavours. Second, entered the Vitello tonnato (THB 520), heavenly, thin slices of sous-vide veal tenderloin, accompanied by capers with anchovy and tuna dressing.
Next, we had a quick trip to the insalate portion of the menu with the Mediterranean insalata (THB 300), which superbly combines roasted pumpkin, beetroot, mixed leaves, toasted pine nuts, and balsamic dressing. Again, the chef struck a balance within the flavours effortlessly, whereas in some cases, the balsamic could have easily overpowered the salad.
The impeccable composition of flavours was also found in our favourite pasta, the Spaghetti neri con polpo (THB 550), a plate of black ink spaghetti with spicy baby octopus in tomato sauce. I found myself unable to divert my attention from this glistening plate of black gold. Bite after bite, I needed to remind myself there were others in the queue. Adding to the experience was the Neapolitan icon Vongole (THB 350), linguine and fresh clams flambéed with white wine, garlic and Italian basil, countering the more prominent flavours of the black ink spaghetti with its brinier flavours of the sea. However, both pasta dishes were beautifully al dente, as expected, and brought each ingredient to the fore; no one ingredient outshining the next.
Each dish can be paired with a splendid selection of red and white wine, bottles of which are displayed cleverly on the walls in the direction of the kitchen, elevating OTTO Italian Restaurant’s aesthetics and ambience in the process.
This was a surprise in itself, as the chef personally brought out the dish and set it on the table without explanation. The Polpo arrosto (THB 450), which is a roasted tenderised octopus tentacle with smoked paprika that is comfortably placed on a bed of velvety truffle potato velouté, was a slight shock to our palate; in a very good way. We were later informed that this particular dish was a favourite among regular customers. While I highly recommend the other dishes we had the pleasure of having, the Polpo arrosto was the absolute standout, providing a completely different and delicious experience. And yes, we would definitely go back to OTTO Italian Restaurant for this dish alone. But don’t take my word for it, have it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. Buon Appetito!
11th floor, MUU Bangkok Hotel
88/333 Sukhumvit 55, Thong Lo Road, North Klongton, Wattana
Open on Mondays to Sundays from 11.30 am to 11.00 pm
Tel: 02 090 9000
Facebook & Instagram: @OttoItalianRestaurant