By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
The wealth and breadth of Bangkok’s gastronomic scene never ceases to surprise me, and yet again, a new contender has emerged in the scene to shock and delight. Having never tried Latvian fare before, I was excited to sample the city’s newest fine-dining Latvian restaurant, The White House, which was touted as a way to showcase the creativity of this unique cuisine. “I created the restaurant not to make money, but because I enjoy the work, and wanted to show off my vision and knowledge about food,” Chef Aleksandrs Nasikailovs, the restaurant’s founder and Executive Chef told me as we sat down to talk about his passion project. “I’m involved in everything, from the design of the restaurant, to the placemats, napkins, cutlery, glassware, and wine selection.”
Having learned of Chef Aleksandrs’ involvement in every aspect of the restaurant, it’s clear to me why everything is so curated, with thoughtful touches everywhere. As you walk in, you go through a passageway where delicate crystal birds hang suspended above you as light bounces off them in beautiful fractals; an ethereal start to a truly magical experience.
The restaurant itself is done up in shades of white and black, with beautifully-painted flowers climbing up columns, putting you in mind of a garden trellis, which is also reflected in an accent wall in the chocolaterie that abuts the restaurant. However, despite this classic colour palette, the restaurant is far from boring – a tasteful neon sign hangs in pride of place above a stage at the front of the restaurant, a hint of the live music they occasionally entertain, while beautiful red accents come in the form of flowers on each table.
FOOD AND DRINK
For our visit, we were given a few signature dishes from their ten-course tasting menu (THB 4500++ per person), as well as a couple of others from their à la carte selection. I’m told by Chef Aleksandrs that there is no unique characteristic to Latvian food: “our country has only been independent for 29 years,” he explains. “We were occupied by many countries – Germany, Russia – so this influences a lot of our food culture. For me, I always say Latvian cuisine is what you grow there and you bring to your customers.”
He goes on to tell us that his vision is to share his culture through his food, as he’s very patriotic about his motherland. He is passionate, however, about using mostly local ingredients, as that’s what they do in Latvia. “In Latvia there’s this movement of slow food, where we use local ingredients because it is the best and freshest that you can get, so I use mostly Thai ingredients, and some Japanese,” he explains.
We started off by a few Bites from their tasting menu, whose concept “is inspired by my memories in Latvia, through my experience and the dishes I learnt to make,” according to Chef Aleksandrs. What was especially superlative was the way that even the tiny bites would be presented with innovative crockery and presentations; courtesy of the creative mind of Chef Aleksandrs. The Beetroot cracker, salmon mousse, salmon roe arrived in a wooden box stamped with their logo, with the Latvian flag as its base, and was a melt-in-your-mouth treat, elevated by the decadence of the mousse which was creamy and indulgent.
The Wild rabbit rillette, wheat pillow, chipotle sauce was an even more delightful presentation, served to us in the jaws of a rabbit skull. Having never tasted rabbit before, I was a little apprehensive, but I had no reason to be, as the appetiser was just the right amount of mildly gamey, and spiced perfectly. The Black mussels, smoked mussel sauce, sea weed arrived in a bespoke container made of mussel shells, and was briney in the best way, with a smokey aftertaste that left me wanting more.
Next, we had the Gillardeau oyster from France, served with a deliciously piquant homemade raspberry vinaigrette, and finger lime, which added freshness, and topped with a yoghurt pearl to counter the acidity. This dish required a little interaction to get into – it comes in a frozen sphere that is melted tableside by one of the friendly waitstaff. For our mains, we sampled the One-eyed-fish from Thailand, served with black mussels, cauliflower, and the star of the show, lumpfish roe sauce that was sublime and paired well with the tender and flakey fish.
There are not many vegetarian options in the menu, but their dishes can be modified if you request it ahead of time, and the one option that we tried, the Baked burrata sheets (THB 450) was definitely worth a visit to the restaurant alone. Delicate sheets are piled on top of each other, capturing the rich flavour of burrata while somehow not as heavy, and all of it lies on a bed of Japanese heirloom tomatoes and basil pesto for a truly epicurean experience.
Visitors should definitely give their beverage menu a try – curated by the acclaimed Kei Sawada, of Salon Du Japonisant fame, who works closely with Chef Aleksandrs to ensure that they elevate all the food offerings, their cocktails are sure to be exciting and unique.
The Latvian honey cake (THB 350) which was a revelation. Served with ice cream made with fermented wild honey from Phuket, the entire dish was a treat for both the eyes and the palate, creamy in the best way and possibly one of the best desserts I’ve had in the city.
THE WHITE HOUSE BANGKOK
199 8 Soi Sukhumvit 16, Khlong Toei,
Open Wednesdays to Saturdays, from 6pm-11pm and dinner (17:30 till late)
Tel: 097 694 9898