Chef Monthep “Thep” Kamonsilp goes hyper-local.
By Ashima Sethi
Nestled inside of the stylish Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok is TAAN, a modern fine-dining restaurant that should be the next on your list if you enjoy elevated Thai cuisine. Located on the 25th floor with stunning views over Bangkok’s bustling shopping district, the restaurant’s dining room is elegant and adorned in hues of emerald, dark green and gold, all of which is offset by dark marble tables and dark wooden accents. Modern in its design, the most eye-catching feature of all is the ceiling, which uses Thai-style parasols as lampshades to create texture and impact.
The restaurant is led by Chef Monthep “Thep” Kamonsilp who has worked in some of the world’s most renowned kitchens. Over the years, his approach to cuisine has evolved and he has chosen to embrace a hyper-local approach to cooking, which showcases the unique produce found in and around our Kingdom in a bid to pay tribute to the fisherman and farmers who work tirelessly to put food on our plates.
During the COVID period the restaurant shut its doors. Taking advantage of this time, Chef Thep began crafting a new menu called ‘Prode,’ (THB 2,890++) which translates to ‘favourite’ in Thai, and is a collection of dishes that highlight the quality and calibre of proteins, vegetables, and herbs that are found around Thailand. The restaurant recently reopened after a few years and this menu has been met with extremely positive reviews, which only excited us further when we were seated.
Our dining experience began with a welcome drink, a two-part concoction that was separated into a rum-based ya dong shot and a refreshing chaser made from fresh pandan juice. What made it even more unique was that the drink was served on a folded sheet with your ‘fortune’ on it. We were then served a selection of bites to whet our palates. The first, a toasted blini topped with seasoned cuts of pork belly, and the second, crispy fish served with a curry paste jelly sheet that packed a punch.
Moreover, the restaurant has an extensive wine list and Jacques Varet, the hotel’s General Manager is a very talented sommelier, who can help you pick the perfect glass to accompany your meal. For our first, he recommended the Groebe 2019 Westhofener Gewürztraminer, a German wine that was sweet and aromatic. For our second glass, we enjoyed the Clos Ibai Blanco, a complex, dry white Rioja that had notes of citrus and grapefruit. Both glasses paired very well with our seafood-forward meal.
We then moved onto the first dish of the nine-course menu, Lobster chae nam pla, a bite consisting of raw lobster that has been soaked in a freshwater fish sauce, topped with caviar. Crafted to be eaten all at once, the lobster was succulent and the caviar provided some welcome bursts of umami flavours. Next was the Pla bu, a plate of crispy scaled goby served with a flavourful bamboo shoot salad and rich mushroom sauce that has been infused with ‘ya nang’ leaves.
The third dish takes inspiration from golae, a dish of skewered meat that has been bathed in a smoky curry paste from the South of Thailand that is popular amongst the Kingdom’s Muslim communities. However, in Chef Thep’s variation of Golae talay, he crafts a savoury cake stuffed with different kinds of seafood ranging from fish to squid, served with a marinated oyster, and a strong bitter bean paste. What followed was the Pak moh sao nam, which combines flavours from the Northeast and Central regions. The plate consists of grouper coated in popped rice complemented by a fermented fish sauce. The dish also features lime, fresh pineapple, and hints of galangal to cut through the richness.
We then moved onto the Run juan, one of my personal favourites of the night. Traditionally, the curry is a complex combination of sour and salty thanks to ingredients like pungent shrimp paste. However, in this variation, Chef Thep transforms the curry into a clear, French-inspired consommé that still boasts all of the powerful flavours of the original dish, as well as a melt-in-your-mouth piece of fried brined pork tenderloin. Next, the Kua ham was a flavour-packed dish that featured cuts of deep-fried braised pork belly and a grilled sticky rice parcel stuffed with frog legs, a protein that I was unfamiliar with before the meal, but one that I became a solid fan of after.
Leading up to the main course, we tucked into the Jaew hon. The restaurant’s take on a surf-and-turf, it combined squid eggs with prawn fat paste, which was tucked under tender cuts of top-round beef and then dressed with a Isan squid ink soup. An incredibly herbaceous and aromatic dish, when all the elements were eaten together it made for a well-balanced course. Next and my favourite dish of the evening was the Black chicken congee, which featured a bed of milled congee topped with bitter beans, ultra-tender pork belly, organic black chicken, pickled egg with a runny yolk, and a krill sauce. When combined it made for a very hearty dish, one filled with both familiar flavours and plenty of surprises.
To conclude we enjoyed the Tao thueng that draws inspiration from the traditional Chinese-style dessert. It combined a refreshing coconut and pandan ice cream with black sesame and crispy longan-infused Thai meringue. An apt palate cleanser that was still in line with the restaurant’s ethos. Before departing, we had the pleasure of speaking to the Chef who gifted us with a final bite, an interpretation of one of my favourite Thai sweets, ‘thong muan,’ as well as a take home souvenir, a beautiful spoon crafted from local clay.
As someone who has had the opportunity to dine at some of the city’s leading Thai restaurants, I was very impressed with TAAN’s new menu from start to finish. Chef Thep’s vision truly shines through in his cooking, and I would highly recommend a visit to sample his creations if you’re looking for a dining experience that will allow you the space to become more comfortable with authentic, lesser-known Thai flavours.
25th floor, Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok
865 Rama I Road, Pathumwan Wang Mai, Bangkok
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm
Tel: 065 328 7374