They’re exploring cultural Thais.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Growing up in Thailand, I’ve always found Thai fine dining to be a little of an oxymoronic concept: Thai food at its core is unpretentious and generous; designed to be cooked streetside by a pa with a cast-iron wok that’s stood the test of time, making dishes seasoned with decades of experience and a lot of heart (sometimes literally). But there are rare exceptions to this rule; restaurants that have taken the soul of Thai food and elevated it with their use of premium ingredients, preparation techniques lost to the sands of time, and the kind of hospitality that has put the Kingdom on the global map. TAAN at the Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok has become one such restaurant, and this has only been cemented by the accolades it has won in recent times.
The F&B options at Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok have always been a study in art and intentionality. From their all-day-dining restaurant-cum-art-gallery that showcases an ever-changing oeuvre of local artists, to their rooftop bar that channels a post-apocalyptic future in pastel and neo-tropical décor, each one has a distinctive point of view. TAAN, perched on the 25th floor with panoramic views of one of Bangkok’s busiest zones, is noexception. An ode to the height of Thai culinary tradition, everything from its décor to its focus on local ingredients honours its roots.
While I’d visited the restaurant before at night, arriving at sunset was a true treat as golden light spills into the space, bouncing off the upturned umbrellas that cover the ceiling from end to end. Luxe furnishings in dark grey and marble add to the feel of contemporary decadence, while a room to the side provides comfortable seating for large groups in a more intimate atmosphere. Make sure you stay after dark, however, as the place transforms into a work of art, with the lighting feature on the ceiling captivating the eye and whisking you away to somewhere truly magical.
FOOD AND DRINK
TAAN’s vision has always been to uphold sustainability and locality, and they work closely with Thai farmers to use fresh and premium produce. Their new seasonal menu, COOKSHOP (THB 3,190++), launched on 21 March, explores the different culinary traditions that have made Thai cuisine what it is today. Starting from the Chinese diaspora who brought their preparation methods and dishes to Thailand, to the Western influences and ingredients that have seeped into the country’s culinary fabric, the menu is both a reminder and celebration of the melting pot that is contemporary cuisine.
We started with a selection of Chinese table hors d’oeuvres, the perfect melt-in- your-mouth bites to whet your appetite for the next nine courses. Next, the Crispy vermicelli was a revelation, made with a pastry comprised of vermicelli noodles packed tight. It was drizzled with a garlic honey prawn butter cream, pickled to make it moreish in the extreme, and complemented by the juiciness of the river prawns on top.
The Steamed pork ball was another amuse-bouche that definitely brought much amuse to the table, as it was served in a delightful sticky rice taco that was as enticing to the eyes as the bite was to the palate. Consisting of steamed minced pork and king mackerel, and served with braised raw mango in red wine soy sauce and steamed Chinese spinach; the flavours were designed to explode in your mouth – make sure to eat both pieces in the suggested order for best effect. Next, we tucked into the Steamed fish in plum sauce, a hearty recipe with a cut of smoked, homemade bacon with just enough fat to make it indulgent. The pomfret to pair came in shredded form, adding texture and interest to an already-intriguing dish.
The Curry & mushroom bun was a deconstructed affair, with a dollop of yellow curry of Indonesian origin, and a serving of Chinese chicken, paired with pickled black fungus that packs a punch. Smoked duck tongue jam completes the orchestra of flavours on your plate, while the fried mushroom bun is served on the side. The deceptively minimal portions help each element sing, and ensure that you savour each one.
The Fried beef salad was, in many ways, a palette cleanser with a refreshing mix of lettuce, shallots, and tomatoes. The wagyu beef was cooked just right, and seared to perfection on the side; while the Z-take & z-tew (steak and stew, if you say it out loud) was definitely for the meat lovers, with buttery pork chops in a pork tongue red curry poured tableside. For those with dietary restrictions and can’t eat beef or pork, these can be modified upon request, which our team found out, to our delight.
Of course, no quintessential Thai meal is complete without pad krapao, although to my surprise I was informed that even this Thai cuisine staple was not originally from the Kingdom. The “Pad krapao x khao klook pu” reminded me of street-style krapao in the best way, while the premium ingredients – caramelised crab legs and crab oil in rice – elevated it to a whole other level.
Finally, we ended our epicurean feast with Sake mooncake, which looked like a dream and tasted just as good. Served with half a durian mooncake, and local sato ice cream on a bed of peanut crumble, it was luxe without being too sweet – a true Asian accolade for any dessert.
The “Pretend shark fin soup” was an ethical version of this delicacy, made with braised pork ears, pickled mushroom, crab, and bean sprouts and coriander. Poured from a steaming hot pot tableside, we were told that it was “bringing Yaowarat to your table” and indeed, it brought the comfort of street food to the luxury of our seats – a true treat.
25th Floor, Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok 865 Rama 1 Road, Wangmai, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm
Tel: 065 328 7374
Facebook and Instagram: @taanbangkok