I received more than a few Hahas when I posted on Facebook that I was having lunch at Bo.lan. The name means “no testicle” in Hokkien but its origin is from the two chef-owners Duangporn Songvisava (nicknamed Bo) and Dylan Jones (contributing Lan). I’m sure they’ll be aghast at the alternate meaning for Malaysians and Singaporeans.
This restaurant is a converted vintage wooden house, complete with pool. There’s even a chicken nesting in the large grounds. Unfortunately, she clucked indignantly and ran away when I approached her for a photo. Bo.lan aims to be a zero-carbon restaurant and they work with local farmers and producers to source their food. They not only have a Michelin star, they’re also rated 37th best restaurant in Asia by S.Pellegrino’s 50 Best list.
I went for A Go Go IPA by Beat Brewing in Cambodia as a cooling beverage. It’s a clean but flavorful IPA. Bo.lan has a prix fixe lunch set menu for 1,200 baht. It features two options each from the salad, soup, stir-fry, and curry menus. I let my waitress recommend the dishes and opted for “Thai spicy” which is code in Thailand for “I can take the same amount of heat as a local”.
The amuse bouche was a delicate dish of the world’s tiniest lotus roots with shrimp, coriander, shallots and a creamy coconut sauce. It’s very delicious. The flavors are classically Thai, very bright and appetizing. The perfect starter to kick things off and get the saliva glands working.
The next few dishes are served together in a tray with two types of rice.
For the salad option, I chose spicy salad of fish with toasted rice and aromatic herbs (480 baht). This is a piece of lightly breaded white fish tossed with coriander and chilli, as well as a dust I can’t identify. It’s ultra appetizing and the fish is still moist inside. Very well cooked.
Galangal infused coconut soup of chicken (320 baht) was my soup option. I was a bit dubious since my personal preference would be the “Boat noodle” style soup of pork with beans sprouts, but the waitress suggested this. It turned out to be my favorite dish of the meal. It’s so creamy (but not overwhelming) and tasty! There’s bright notes, spicy undertones, and salty overtures in an orchestra of tender chicken soup.
Stir fried prawn with Thai samphire (480 baht) was my stir-fry option. Samphire is a type of sea succulent that has a very lovely texture in your mouth. I enjoyed the slightly crunchy and slippery feel. Very nice.
I went with “Tair Po” curry of pork rib (790 baht) for curry. These are beautiful pieces of deboned pork ribs in a dangerously spicy curry. I love spicy food and I can snack on Thai bird eye chillis like they’re fruit (which they are), but I found this exceedingly spicy. It’s very pleasurable for me but I feel like this would be beyond most people.
Dessert was a simple preparation of coconut milk with shaved ice and jelly pieces. It’s refreshing but nothing special. It felt anticlimactic after the delicious savory dishes I had earlier. The Thai has some awesome desserts, like the jasmine scented pandan dumplings in coconut milk at Nahm, which was the best Thai dessert I’ve ever eaten.
I enjoyed Bolan’s style of cooking immensely. Everything tasted delectable except for dessert. The bill came up to 1,878 baht (RM 240) including water and a beer. However, service here can be subpar. It wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t friendly and warm like other similar establishments. It would be what I’ll call “forced”, a standard of service much more suited for a busy roadside street food stall than a Michelin star restaurant.