Review: TAAN Mindful & Sustainable Journey

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TAAN welcomed us with the stunning panoramic sunset view of Bangkok. Yes, we’ve heard about the restaurant and Chef Monthep “Thep” Kamolsilp, who’s been curating all of his cooking and traveling experiences and put them into each and every single element of his dishes.

Locating on the 25th Floor of Siam@Siam Design Hotel & Spa, this first Thai rooftop restaurant serves lunches and dinners as the set menu and a la carte dishes at first and now they are ready to introduce their new tasting menu in the fine casual dining style and we are here tonight to explore this unique journey.

At TAAN, Chef Thep draws on his extended experience cooking French cuisine, but in doing so he hopes to retain the distinctive characteristics of Thai food – something which he admits is quite a test for him. Just almost six months after this Thai restaurant opening, Chef Thep led his team to create an awe-inspiring array of dishes in keeping with the restaurant’s concept of ‘Hyper-Local Innovative Thai Cuisine’.

Not just serving the enjoyable Thai food to both locals and visitors, his goals are also to inspire others for the mindful consuming for their own health and the quality of future society. Hardly heard ‘Proud to be Thai’, he wishes everyone to earn the recognition they deserved and be proud of themselves – from the farmers, the producers, the distributors, the culinary persons, and the diners who are the part of transforming the food chain in Thailand to the better and the more sustainable place.

THE DISHES

“Throughout the nine courses, all dishes will be served one after the other just like a normal western set course, except for the last three, which will be served all together. I hope to impart on guests the originality of Thai dining.” Chef Thep said about his tasting menu with his warm and delightful smile after we greeted.

For the tasting menu, the two important points for all chefs are the techniques (culinary expertise) and the inspirations behind each dish (creativity) – this is not just a meal to fulfill your stomach but also a well worth sharing stories that the chef is proud to talk through the dishes serving. He traveled throughout the country to seek the gems of local and natural resources to create the artful pieces in his delicious dishes and to share the pride of Thailand. His dishes highlight fresh and chemical-free produces with the use of the innovative cooking technique.

This season, he vowed to include several seasonal ingredients from the south in his dishes with the aim of spreading the word of the region’s bountiful resources with his diners.

The tasting menu started from a tasty and juicy ‘Spiny lobster cured in fish sauce with frozen green chili and Royal Project caviar’, the dish inspired by raw prawn cured in fish sauce and served with chili dip but given an elegant twist. Chef Thep used lobster from Ranong and caviar from Thailand’s Royal Projects that offer equivalent quality and taste but only a few people know about its existence. With the mix of juicy and firm lobster, the slightly salty taste of caviar, the crunchy texture of cabbage, and the tangy frozen sauce, our palate is totally awakened. We know this’s going to be a great fun journey ahead of us tonight.

Next, quickly followed that gave our taste buds alerted is the ‘Fermented pork sausage’ that feature organic pork sourced from the northern province of Nan fermented with garlic and Forgotten Husband sticky rice. To add the salty taste to the dish, he added the salted mackerel to give both umami and saltiness to the sausage. To balance the sour, he breaks it with the sweet and tangy sauce made from tamarind and palm sugar and topped with both bitter and fragrant herbs such as Siamese neem tree leaf and Vietnamese coriander. Eating with grill bird eye chili and garlic, you will be so delightful as us.

During our meal, a very charming thing that we noticed since we entered the restaurant is the great attitude and extensive knowledge of the staff about what they are doing and serving here are truly impressed. Also, the way that Chef Thep himself came out and took great care of all diners made everyone’s night to be one of the memorable events.

To continue, our 3rd course of the night is ‘Satay-marinated wild-caught river prawn with peanut sauce and pickled raw papaya, lotus root and Vietnamese coriander’. Combining every component of the dish into one bite-size portion, this dish offers an aromatic, sweet, juicy, nutty, and stunning presentation with the refreshing taste of vegetables served alongside.

Next up is the ‘Minced fermented wild-caught grouper dip with sun-dried tomato and crispy fish skin’, this dish is inspired by Nam Prik Ong, the famous Northern dip that is made with pork but with a twist. Chef Thep used grouper fish from Surat Thani fermented in rice and salt, added texture from crispy dried fish, as well as putting tofu and dried tomato to provide umami balance. Serving with the thin and crispy rice cracker and grilled okra, we finished this succulent dish with many wows and yums in between.

The fifth dish served is ‘Stir-fried Hinlay-marinated blue swimmer crab with organic chicken eggs, pickled salted egg, chili oil, and pickled Thai garlic’. The hinlay curry powder is popular among the Intha tribe in Myanmar and it has a similar fiery flavor profile to Thailand’s Northern hunglay curry. We love how the sweet and succulent meat of the crab was highlighted by the intense spicy and aromatic flavor of the curry. Eating with the crunchy thin spring roll sheet and you’ll find yourself scraping the dish off.

Next, the sixth, the seventh and the eighth dishes are served in a Thai sharing style which consists of ‘Grilled crispy pork belly with stir-fried bitter beans, shrimp paste and chili’, ‘Wallago fish southern coconut curry with Surat Thani sea horseshoe crab roe’ and ‘Banana leaf-wrapped, charcoal-grilled chicken with lotus stems and pad Thai-style tamarind dressing’ with the local steamed rice on the side. We have been told to eat each dish in order to fully experience the taste of each dish, however as for Thai style eating, you can jump from one dish to the other all the way through.

The grilled crispy pork belly with stir-fried bitter beans is truly a journey of texture and taste we found in this dish – from the crispy pork skin, juicy and tender of the pork meat that nearly melt in our mouths, through to the salty and flavourful stir-fried bitter bean that came with a hint of dill flowers and a splash of lime that go hand in hand with the bitter beans and created complex yet delicious taste.

The wallago fish southern coconut curry with Surat Thani sea horseshoe crab roe is inspired by the abundant natural resources Chef Thep witnesses at Surat Thani’s Tapi River. As the main ingredient, he employs soft and firm black wallago fish to which he adds the delicious horseshoe crab roe, raw papaya pickled and lotus stem for a multi-layer texture that’s full of surprise.

Banana leaf-wrapped, charcoal-grilled chicken with lotus stems and pad Thai-style tamarind dressing is the must-eat dish for all pad Thai fans. With its unique texture and combination, you will be elevated to another pad Thai heaven. Chef Thep ingeniously replaces the noodle with grilled lotus stem and mixed with gotu kola leaves and pad Thai sauce before sprinkled with toasted coconut meat and deep-fried red onion. Eating with grilled chicken is a true one-of-a-kind experience.

Ending this fantastic journey with the creative Thai dessert, ‘Kanom Taan’, made of mild toddy palm cake and a burnt pumpkin ice cream. The burnt pumpkin gave the sweetness and the smoky & earthy aroma to the ice cream. Sweet and savory shredded shrimp are added on top to expertly balance out the buttery texture. If we can make one wish, we just need one more scoop of this super charming and delicious ice cream.

THE DRINKS

Apart from the fantastic food we had from this tasting menu, TAAN also offers well-curated beverages based on the same approach applied to the food, the mixologist here sources and combines the time-tested regional recipes, quality ingredients from trusted sources all over Thailand and presents the drinks to allow the diners to ride on the same journey. Some cocktails are Thai inspired while some others go beyond the imagination. Don’t miss a chance to try ‘Thong Umpan’ the signature cocktail of this season that is a mixture of sugar cane syrup and Mekhong rum that infused with grilled shitake and kaffir lime leaf served with a half of passion fruit.

‘Re-Re-Khao-San’ is another signature cocktail to give a smooth and aromatic taste to Thailand’s love of rice. This drink is inspired by the popularity of Thai childhood game of the same name and gives a multi-sensory celebration of rice – toasted sticky rice infused in a syrup, Issan rum that made out of rice, and sprinkled toasted rice on the top of the drink. The coconut water lends the drink extra smoothness while having sweet and spicy basil to offer a refreshing finish.

With the well-thought vision on sustainability and the wellbeing of the society of Chef Thep, he organizes both Chef Table as well as the Farmer Talk Dinner such as ‘A Whole New Way to Chic-Ken’ or ‘Fishing for Change’ regularly as to bring in the like-minded people who care about the food and sources of ingredients as well as to honour the local artisans and farmers who are tireless in their efforts to produce 100% organic, safe and high-quality ingredients. TAAN also aspires to promote healthy yet delicious food and assist in spreading the word about sustainable practices.

Getting There

Take a BTS Sky Train to National Stadium station and take the Exit 1, and walk 5 minutes towards Banthadthong Road (same direction as the Holiday Inn Express), the take the elevator to the 25th Floor. Located on the Rama 1 Road, it is also convenient to get there by taxi or your own car, the parking lot is available.

TAAN

25th Floor, Siam @ Siam Design Hotel Bangkok

865 Rama 1 Road, Wang Mai, Patumwan, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand

T: +66 (0) 65 328 7374 or +66 (0) 2217 3000

E: contact@taanbangkok.com

W: www.taanbangkok.com

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