Gaggan – 2 Michelin star 26-course dinner with wine pairing, a very detailed and long writeup

Gaggan-Experience

I was almost late to my 9:30 pm Gaggan dinner reservation. I had an exclusive seat at The Lab (Chef’s Table) and I hear they’ll only keep your reservation for 5 minutes before releasing it to someone else. Three Grab cars in a row cancelled on me. This was the highlight of my Bangkok trip, a 2 Michelin star progressive Indian feast that will set me back RM 1,600+ per person, and I didn’t want to miss it. Thankfully, the 4th driver came and sped me there with minutes to spare.

Gaggan-Bangkok

Gaggan is in a renovated mansion with two floors. I saw every single table was occupied. Mind you, reservations are made at least a month in advance so that’s impressive. I was greeted by an attractive young lady by name. She must have matched me to my email profile picture. She escorted me upstairs and held my seat for me. This is the type of restaurant that does that whenever you get up to pee but it doesn’t come across as intrusive or excessive, partly due to the friendly and approachable nature of the staff.

Gaggan-House

The Lab is a bar seating arrangement of 12 people curved in a U shape with the kitchen in the middle. All the chefs work inside so you can see them cooking and preparing your dishes. It’s also a super interactive session – the chefs all introduced themselves and explained every dish in detail. They also passed ingredients to us to touch and try. It’s like a Show and Tell session, but better! I was lucky to snag one of these coveted seats with just a month’s advance booking.

The-Lab

I also went for the wine pairing (4,500 baht/RM 580) for the ultimate experience. The sommelier was a nice Japanese guy. He’s knowledgeable and personable but at times I found his accented English difficult to understand. That said though, there’s something to be said about hearing Japanese accented English, it really ties the experience together coz the chefs are so multicultural! There are people from Norway to Africa!

Tablemates

The dinner started with the chefs getting everyone seated at The Lab to introduce themselves. I was first so I told them where I was from and what I was doing in Bangkok. The others came from a varied background – there was a newlywed couple from New York (a celebratory dessert was prepared for the entire table by Gaggan) and a female duo from Hong Kong (one of whom is a chef). I thought this was an excellent way to break the ice and get the guests seated at the Chef’s Table to talk amongst themselves.

Emoji-Menu

The famous emoji menu of Gaggan was presented to us. Each dish was described with one emoji, nothing else. You get the general idea of what the dish is about but you’ll only know the full details when they present you with the transparent overlay with words to go with the emojis at the end of the experience.

Champagne

Champagne was served with the first few courses. I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable about wine so I’ll just show the labels and when it was served so you’ll have an idea of the wines you’ll get with the wine pairing.

Peach

The first dish was 🍑 – peaches from Yamagata. This is a bigger portion that I expected. There are at least 26 courses in total so I expected each to be bite-sized but a lot of them were quite substantial. The chefs explained that these are peaches imported from Yamagata, which are known for their lovely pink skin and soft, white flesh. Perfect.

Explode

💥 – plain yoghurt with masala and black salt was next. This is a Gaggan signature. It was featured in the Netflix series Chef’s Table. There’s a strong boiled egg sulfur flavor. The yoghurt explodes when you bite into it. It literally bursts out with intense sulfur and masala overtones.

Tongue

The third plate was ingenious – 👅. These are sauces and dusts on a plate and they blasted the rock song “Lick it up” when we were eating this course. A few people were apprehensive at first, but we all got over the self-consciousness and started bringing the plate up to our faces and tonguing the sauces off.

Lick

It’s a brilliant way to disinhibit the diners. This picture got a lot of traction on my Facebook too.

Lick-it-up

Very good! *thumbs up*

Wine

A white wine came for the next few courses.

Cheese

This is 🧀. It’s batter of milk, milk fat, and milk solids fried with ghee to make a “cheese”. There’s no flour used and the base is crispy. It’s very interesting and the start of the series which uses oddly shaped white plates. You’ll find out what the plates are about soon.

Eggplant

🍆 is fresh eggplant cooked then put into the blast chiller and freeze dried for 6 days. So intensely flavored. It’s like a drop of eggplant essence. Very wow.

Dehydrated-Eggplant

The chefs also handed over two eggplants for us to touch and smell. The first one is a regular eggplant and the second after it’s been through the six day freeze drying process.

Rice

Idly is 🍚 – a savory rice cake, except this is idly shrunk 200 times and topped with a dehydrated curry leaf! It’s also 200x more expensive. It’s so soft and subtle – love the spongy bottom.

Second-Wine

I believe this is a natural wine. It’s paired with the upcoming courses.

Black

The mysterious ⚫ turned out to be a fried snack. I thought it was dhall inside and said so when the chefs asked if anyone knew what that was. It turned out to be chickpea samosa! It’s very hot.

Egg

🥚 is a vegetarian egg filled with liquid on a crispy and sweet nest. The shell bursts the moment you put this in your mouth. The bright and acidic liquid goes very well with the nest. This ended the white plates series and we’re supposed to fit all the empty plates together.

India

There’s a reason the empty plates weren’t cleared – they combine to make (no surprises here) India! It’s the continent Gaggan is from and all the previous dishes on the white plates have heavy Indian influences.

Forage

Brioche and mushroom was the 🍄 dish. It gives off a smoky scent when you open it.

Mushroom

Only one of the mushrooms is edible and you’re supposed to forage for the right one. I tasted a few wooden ones before I realized the edible mushroom is the hot one. I like this interactive rummaging.

Third-Wine

The wine pairing was very good. Although I’m not a wine geek and thus unable to describe the flavors in detail, I know that it went swimmingly with the food.

Ice-Cream

🍦 – ice cream presented as white asparagus. This is smoked and finished at your table.

White-Asparagus

The chefs told us we must eat this quickly before it melts.

Chilli

Som tam with green mango ice cream was 🌶️, delivered in a wrap and nicely plated on mung beans. Som tam is the Thai salad made with young mango slices. The baby tomatoes are from Japan. I love this – it’s very cold and acidic. My table mates loved it too.

Cold-Brew

The chefs showed us a cold brew device normally used to make coffee. They’re using it to filter French quail through the machine and it slowly drips in the background to be served 3 courses from now, coz that’s how long it takes to condense.

Curry

Curry is represented by 🍲 inside a panipuri casing. The secret curry inside is super creamy and sticks intently to your throat. Excellent.

Sake

Sake from Japan broke up the wine pairing. It’s meant to go with the Japanese food in the upcoming dishes.

Green-Apple

🍏 marks the start of the Japanese series and is the best grade of Japanese uni imported from Hokkaido paired with chutney ice cream and a green apple “seaweed”. It’s very delicious and the uni is remarkable. I liked the unusual pairing of ingredients too. Brilliant!

Sushi

🍣 is not sushi. It’s meringue made out of dashi. The wasabi and otoro is from Nagasaki and it’s finished with yuzu that’s been freeze dried so it can be grated. Wow! I loved this too.

Dehydrated-Yuzu

This is the yuzu fruit that’s been freeze dried.

Wasabi

They also have excellent quality real wasabi plant flown in from Japan. This is what you’re paying for, and also why a seat at The Lab is so fun. There’s the show and tell you wouldn’t get at a normal table.

Corn

The quail from before was the 🌽 course. It’s quail breast and the quail “tea” from the cold drip coffee device. The quail tea is hot and smells like charcoal. You’ll notice that Gaggan doesn’t offer any utensils – you’re supposed to eat everything with your hands and fingers! You drink the soup first, then fish out the quail breast. I love piece of charred micro corn at the bottom, which this dish is named for.

Fourth-Wine

This is the next wine in the wine pairing.

Prawn

Next up is 🍤 – fresh prawn from Thailand smoked in a tandoori with dehydrated curry on the side. It’s very salty for me but I like the thought that goes behind it. The curry is cooked, then painstakingly dehydrated for days so it turns into an intense tasting powder.

Coconut

Shake off your conceptions about curry with 🥥. It’s cold and raw curry (two no-nos) with scallops that you’re supposed to swirl and mix before eating.

Fifth-Wine

I hear this drawing is a portrait of the winemaker! It went with the next couple of dishes.

Dumpling

🥟 of pork vindaloo cooked for 12 hours. It’s a very acidic curry. The momo is made with wine sauce. The “dumpling” is made of black garlic cracker with 2 different chutneys and 2 different pickles. Not my favorite coz it’s super fatty.

Lamb

A huge lamb chop for 🐑. This is the most normal looking dish of the Gaggan experience. It’s marinated in chilli and cooked in a tandoori. Very smoky flavors! Again, you use your fingers to pick this up by the bone and gnaw at it. I also realized it’s coz Gaggan is Indian and Indians eat with their hands.

Sixth-Wine

There’s another wine pairing at this point. I don’t usually drink much and I was quite pleasantly buzzed at this point.

Light-it-up

The lights were completely turned off after that course was cleared so the whole restaurant was dark. Music blared from the speakers with a rock singer shouting “Light it up” while the chefs brought out torches and flamed a whole tray of banana leaf covered items.

Charred

The scorched banana leaves were presented to us and we’re told to open it after a moment has passed to ensure we wouldn’t burn our fingertips.

Fire

The leaf peels back to reveal local Thai seabass. This 🔥 recipe is from Gaggan’s mother.

Star

The theme song for Star Wars came on for the ⭐ course and a small, round blue Death Star was delivered to us. So fun! I love the quirky bits, coz it adds a lot of laughable moments to dinner.

Star-Wars

The Death Star opens to reveal fluffy white rice.

Rice-Curry

There’s another compartment at the bottom which reveals curry. It’s curry and rice, delivered in a miniature Death Star! This is the only course in the 26-course dinner than came with a spoon or any other utensil. Haha.

Dessert-Wine

This is the last of the wine pairing – a wine to go with the dessert courses.

Flower

The most beautiful and delicate dessert I’ve seen for 🌹. It takes 6 hours to make this rose and it’s presented inside a glass dome to preserve the scent.

Rose

The petals are made with beetroot and radish. The cookie base is made with chocolate chip. I like the unusual pairing of beetroot and radish with sweet chocolate. It’s a very mature dessert.

Sunflower

“Do you like pina coladas? And dancing it the rain?” This song came over the speakers for 🌻. It’s deep fried ice cream! This is my favorite dessert of the night. It tastes so good!!! I felt only three exclamation marks would do justice to how delicious this was.

Rainbow

This trippy looking dessert was paired with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for 🌈. The space ship is made with coffee and dark chocolate and you’re supposed to drag it through the citrus splashes before eating it. Unusual and progressive.

Yin-Yang

☯️ is saffron and black pepper ice cream with pistachio crumble. Wow. Just wow. The flavors remind me of a cheese cake but with two ingredients you don’t normally put into dessert (saffron and pepper). I have this tied for best dessert of the dinner experience. Exquisite. Such a beautiful medley in my mouth. I cannot say enough good things to do this breathtaking dish justice.

Newlyweds

Remember I said there was a newlywed couple from New York at our table? The chefs presented a special celebratory “cake” for them and they provided one for each of us too.

Cake

It’s a sphere that’s totally not cake but tastes like cake. So interesting!

Wines

These are all the wines we had over dinner!

Gaggan

The bill for dinner came up to 12,653 baht (RM 1,615) inclusive of a bottle of water and the Gaggan wine pairing experience. That’s a lot of money for a single meal for 1 pax but I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is without a doubt the best dinner I’ve ever experienced. It’s not just about the food, but the theatre, the story, and the fellow diners you embark on the journey with. Everything was managed so well the 3+ hours will be something I remember forever. You’ll love Gaggan if you’re a food geek and I consider it money well spent. Gaggan will be closing for good in 2020 so you only have 2 years left to check out this beautifully crafted dinner experience. Go. Now.

Saneh Jaan – 1 Michelin star Thai food

Saneh-Jaan-HB

The brilliant waiter at Saneh Jaan (who’s obviously read an article or two about photography basics) took this photo for me. It gained so much traction on Facebook that I’ve made it my Instagram profile picture. I love the moody vibe! Saneh Jaan is a 1 Michelin star Thai food restaurant in Bangkok. It was extremely popular with tourists and expatriates – every single table for dinner service was taken, and as far as I could tell, none of the diners were locals.

Saneh-Jaan

Caucasians were heavily represented and there was a loud table of Singaporeans celebrating some occasion. The acoustics at Saneh Jaan does not make for quiet and reserved dining. The hard surfaces bounce conversations and laughter and amplifies every sound so it’s what polite company would call “lively”. Saneh Jaan is part of an upscale F&B complex at Glasshouse @ Sindorn. They sunk a lot of money into renovating the dining area – chandelier, leather seating, lighting – it’s beautiful!

Chalawan-Pale-Ale

The waitress asked if I was hungry and I told her I had just indulged in Monthong and Ganyao durians at Or Tor Kor market a couple of hours ago. I wanted to try the long menu since it was my final full day in Bangkok but she discouraged me. “It’s a lot of food”, she declared. “You should go for the short menu unless you’re very hungry coz most people can’t finish the food”. I thought it was refreshing that the wait staff didn’t try to upsell you on a longer (and more expensive) menu and gave you sound advice instead. I selected the middle 2,000 baht dinner set menu as a compromise. There’s a shorter 1,600 baht set menu and a longer one for 2,500 baht. I also had Full Moon’s Chalawan Pale Ale to go with the food.

Pineapple-Entree

The first bite was a piece of pineapple with salt. It’s just a piece of fruit with topping so I have nothing much to say. It tastes exactly like what you imagine it’ll taste like.

Saneh-Jaan-Appetizers

A trio of appetizers came, all of which were excellent.

Tuna-salad-with-mint-leaves

Tuna salad with mint leaves was bright and semi-raw (seared on the outside) with lots of delicious raw shallots and onions. Very appetizing.

Traditional-crispy-rice-vermicelli

Traditional sweet and sour crispy rice vermicelli with river prawn had a single prawn on top of crispy rice vermicelli. The rice vermicelli tastes burnt and caramelized, in a good way. The flavors are a bit strange but I like it.

Spicy-shredded-pork-shrimp-betel

Spicy shredded pork and shrimp with wild betel leaf is Saneh Jaan’s version of miang kham – a savory betel leaf wrap. I like the strong and intense flavors of this. I enjoyed the bite tremendously.

Saneh-Jaan-Mains

The main dishes all came together next with rice.

Chicken-soup-with-coconut-galangal

Chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal is one of my favorites. There’s something about the way Thai people cook their chicken soup which makes it so delicious. It’s creamy but not too creamy. I love the spicy and bright notes.

Australian-Tenderloin-panang-curry

Australian Tenderloin panang curry gets a no from me. The beef was not very tender – it’s a chewy affair made worse by the lack of moisture in the curry. The flavors of the panang curry wasn’t very interesting too. The subdued flavors and jaw workout made me almost not want to finish this. The only reason I did is from a personal conviction that food shouldn’t be wasted.

Stir-fried-lotus-stem-shrimp

Stir-fried lotus stem with shrimp paste made me go “Hmm”. The lotus stems weren’t very good on their own and the shrimp paste just made it soggy. I think lotus roots would have been a better option as the vegetable in this dish. It’s a miss.

Stir-fried-seabass-with-leek

Stir-fried seabass with leek was decent. It’s a classic combination of flavors and I enjoyed it. You can’t really go wrong with fish and leeks.

Grilled-pork-with-ginger-chilli

Grilled pork with ginger chilli paste was bland and way too dry. I think the chefs should revisit this menu – 3 of the items (tenderloin, fried seabass, and grilled pork) are dry in nature. You need a mixture of gravy heavy items to balance things out. I felt like the seasoning here was very weak too, it’s not the full flavored extravaganza of places like Nahm or Bolan.

Saneh-Jaan-Desserts

The duo of desserts saved the meal somewhat. I enjoyed the Sweet coconut dumpling in coconut milk but it’s the Sweet mung bean in fruit shapes (Saneh Jaan) that blew me away. The mung bean desserts all have different fillings. One is infused with strong smelling jasmine water. Another had brown sugar. The last one was also scented with jasmine but chewy like mochi. Delicious! The pacing needs a bit work though – I waited 20 minutes between the first bite and the appetizer and 15 minutes between the mains and the dessert. Dinner cost 2,708 baht (RM 345) including water and beer.

Saneh-Jaan-Michelin

I couldn’t help thinking uncharitably that the reason Saneh Jaan is so popular with Caucasians is due to their limp-wristed seasoning. Every single dish in the main course was so bland that nothing about it says “Thai food”. There were bright spots in the appetizers but I feel that only the most unadventurous palates would find the food here exciting. It tastes duller than my meal prep! The service is excellent and the ambiance is wonderful, thus a great place to bring a date or have a business dinner. It may struggle to hold on to its Michelin star due to the monotonous food though.

Bo.lan – 1 Michelin star Thai food in Bangkok

Bolan

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.

Hen

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.

Agogo-IPA

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”.

Bolan-Amuse-Bouche

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.

Bolan-Lunch-Set

The next few dishes are served together in a tray with two types of rice.

Spicy-Salad-of-Fish

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

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.

Prawn-with-Thai-Samphire

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.

Curry-of-Pork-Rib

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.

Bolan-Dessert

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.

Bolan-Bangkok

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.

10-course dinner with beer pairing @ Upstairs at Mikkeler (1 Michelin star)

Upstairs-at-Mikkeler

Upstairs at Mikkeler by Chef Dan Bark is a tiny restaurant with only 5 tables that somehow managed to win a Michelin star. This was not entirely surprising as I have heard superlative reviews on the interwebs and from friends who have visited way before the Michelin Guide came to Bangkok. The Mikkeler brand is a craft beer brewer and Upstairs is literally the restaurant above the Mikkeler pub downstairs.

Upstairs

There were way more chefs and waiters than actual diners in the restaurant. The food prep is laborious and Upstairs at Mikkeler is also famous for their beer pairing, a very modern take on the wine pairing at other upscale restaurants. They’re a brewer after all. There’s no menu available – Upstairs only offers a 10-course tasting menu for 3,800++ baht with an optional beer pairing menu for 1,300++ baht. I went for both since there’s no way I’m passing on such an unusual beverage pairing.

Mikkeler-Passionfruit

Dinner started with an amuse bouche that was not listed in the menu. There are more than 10 dishes because of this. My friendly waiter described this as Vanilla whipped cream with lots of passionfruit and a bit of oats. It’s supposed to be an acidic start to whet your appetite since sour is a known appetite stimulant. It works!

Mikkeler-Say-Hey-Sally

The first few courses were accompanied by Mikkeler Say Hey Sally, a 4.6% alcohol pilsner. There are 6 beers in total and they’re mostly from kegs or draft, but the beer pairing guy will bring you the can/bottle so you can see for yourself and take photos if you want. Mikkeler even provides a smartphone tray beside your eating utensils so you have a proper place to place your phone. I thought that was a funny and excellent touch.

Upstairs-Amuse-Bouche

Bacon marmalade. Whole grain mustard. Maple syrup. Quinoa chip. It’s the perfect small bite before the meal proper. The chip was still warm due to the just-in-time preparation in the kitchen. Each course is only plated when they see you’ve finished the previous. The open kitchen and restaurant is small enough that the chefs can see your plates and tables. One caught me staring at her and smiled – that’s how small the restaurant was!

IKURA

IKURA – blueberry, hibiscus, thyme was the real first course. The bottom is thyme infused milk (excellent) with tapioca pearls and chips, hibiscus soaked water, and ikura (salmon roe) on top. It has a very unusual, bright flavor. To be honest, it doesn’t immediately register as good coz it’s so progressive but it’s certainly an intriguing dish.

Mikkeler-American-Dream

The upcoming carrot course signaled a change to the next beer – Mikkeler American Dream, a 4.6% hoppy pale lager. It was indeed very hoppy and bitter. The beer pairing guy explained that the next few dishes were sweet, so a bitter beer helps balances the flavors. I really like him. He’s a Thai guy who was born in Malaysia and he’s such a beer geek. It’s fun to learn from him.

CARROT

CARROT – goats milk, grapefruit, fennel is next. It’s carrot 6 ways (!!!) e.g. six different preparations of carrot from dehydrated carrot to puree. It’s paired with goat’s milk curd, fennel marmalade, lemon pudding. I really loved this dish! It’s delicious, sweet and goes well with the hoppy beer.

Brioche

There was also an extra course of homemade brioche with black lava salt and olive oil jam. This looks very simple but it ended up being one of my favorite dishes. Nothing beats good bread fresh out of the oven and the black lava salt really highlights the sweetness of the butter. The olive oil jam was delicious too. Very yums, but I know I can be biased coz I love bread.

POTATO

POTATO – bacon, cheddar, leek is the soup course. It’s very fragrant. As is the trend in fine dining, the waiter finishes the dish table side. I could smell it as soon as the waiter started bringing it over. It also has bits of shaved potato (including the skin) at the bottom which provides a nice textural element. It sounds simple but from the waiter’s description, the work that goes into a dish like this is not insignificant. They even make the bacon themselves.

Zeffer-Hopped-Cider

Zeffer Hopped Cider is next, a 5.4% alcohol cider. This ended up being one of my favorite drinks of the night. You know how commercial cider like Somerset is extremely sweet to the point of being off-putting? Other ciders go the opposite route and they’re so acidic it puckers not just your lips, but your entire body. Zeffer Hopper Cider is the perfect balance – it’s not sweet, but not too sour too. It’s also bitter so it’s nicely balanced. Bittersweet, but more bitter than sweet.

CAULIFLOWER

CAULIFLOWER – curry, grape, hoja santa. There’s grapes inside, which was pleasant. It adds a sweet touch to the salty curry. They also have sacred leaf, the Mexican leaf they use for cooking tamales. Upstairs only lists the first 3 ingredients of each dish so it’s up to you to discover some of the others and the waiter will give you a run-down afterwards. It’s a very textural dish.

HOKKAIDO-SCALLOP

HOKKAIDO SCALLOP – finger lime, dashi, cinnamon. This is a very Instagrammable dish.

Scallops

The waiter brought a bowl of cinnamon and stone with a teapot to my table. Upon serving the scallops, he poured cinnamon water over the cinnamon bowl to diffuse the essence of cinnamon over the table. He explained that the scallops were too delicate for cinnamon to be added directly so the chef thought of using smell to add the essence of cinnamon instead.

Smoke

This is also one of the first batches of finger lime they grow in Thailand. I’m familiar with the efforts to grow finger lime in Australia and they’ve started doing the same in Bangkok too. It adds a nice zest to the very fresh scallops in dashi.

Mikkeler-Windy-Hill

Mikkeler Windy Hill, a 7% New England IPA came next and it’s supposed to go with the upcoming 2 dishes. It has a heftier alcohol content to shift the dinner into the second phase. It’s a lighter tasting beer to wash away the fattiness of the next few courses.

WAGYU-BEEF

WAGYU BEEF – sherry, truffle, chive. This is Sanuki wagyu raised with beer. It’s proper Japanese wagyu raised in Japan and flown in, not the much inferior Australian cattle breed. There’s a shockingly delicious truffle paste to go with the beef, as well as chive powder and purple potato chip. I ate one of the slices by itself, one with the chive powder and one with the delectable truffle paste. They’re all yummy! The beef has lovely flavor and it’s not too fatty unlike some highly marbled wagyu. It’s also cooked perfectly – blue, which is raw inside. I love this dish to bits. The truffle sauce is intensely overpowering and pairs well with the beef. I could eat this all day. It’s my favorite dish of this trip.

HONEY-DEW

HONEY DEW – prosciutto, balsamic, white truffle. This is 16 month old prosciutto sprayed with white truffle oil. The waiter comes with a small bottle and sprays the white truffle oil right before you eat this. I was most impressed with the dense flavors within the 16-month-old prosciutto. That’s a long time to age meat! Why honey dew? That’s what it tastes like even though there’s no honey dew in here.

Boon-Lambiek

Boon Lambiek, 7.2% lambic. A lambic is a type of beer from Brussels in Belgium. It’s for the last savory course and the pre-dessert.

DUCK

DUCK – beet, black garlic, pumpkin. This is duck in 4 forms – sous vide, confit, grilled and fried. Upstairs also ferments the garlic sauce for 19 days! There’s pickled kelp noodle to go with the confit duck. The skin is fried. I like the main sous vide duck roll but the confit duck is off-putting to me. It’s so oily and cloying I found it impossible to enjoy it. This is not the fault of the chefs per se but a personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of confit duck and other such overtly rich preparations.

APPLE

APPLE is the trendy dessert called a pre-dessert nowadays to kick start the dessert courses. It’s served on a nice porcelain ring and it’s more like a palate cleanser since the shell of the apple is filled with liquid and it bursts in your mouth the moment you put it in. The waiter also warns you to eat this in one bite since there’s liquid inside.

Mikkeler-Beer-Geek-Thailand

Mikkeler Beer Geek Thailand is the last beer pairing, a 10.9% alcohol imperial stout to go with dessert. It’s the perfect end since the bitterness balances out the dessert dishes well. This beer is inspired by mango sticky rice and it’s brewed with jasmine rice, mango, coconut and lactose. It’s like a bittersweet dessert beer. My second favorite beer after the hopped cider.

PISTACHIO

PISTACHIO – cherry, rhubarb, rose. This is my favorite dessert. It’s a mixture of different textures and flavors with bright notes like rhubarb, rose petals and herbs as well and deeper notes like biscuit crumbs, pistachio and cherry. A most excellent and balanced dessert plate. Wonderful stuff.

CHOCOLATE

CHOCOLATE – banana, cranberry, yoghurt is a very sophisticated dessert. There are so many different chocolate preparations here – wafers, molds, ribbons etc. My favorite is the log filled with white chocolate and banana that oozes out when you cut into it.

Oozing-Center

It’s beautiful.

Upstairs-Petit-Fours

You’re served with coffee and a selection of petit fours to signal the end of the meal. I like the apple ribbon the most, followed by the chocolate chip cookie.

Upstairs-Mikkeler

I enjoyed my dinner at Upstairs at Mikkeler. The bill came up to a hefty 6,333 baht (RM 804) for 1 pax inclusive of full beer pairing, coffee and water. It’s half the price of Gaggan. The waiters are all very knowledgeable, friendly and they’re happy to share the preparation and stories that goes behind each dish. I liked the beer pairing guy too, an approachable true beer nerd from Thailand (born in Malaysia!). The food is good and the ambiance is great. You can see the chefs working from your table – that’s how intimate the space is. Definitely recommended if you like beer and food.

J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain (1 Michelin star)

Jaime-Piano

I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback for this Michelin starred French restaurant in U Sathorn Bangkok. U Sathorn is a beautiful, sprawling colonial style hotel/resort with much of the associated accoutrements. The lobby is an open al-fresco space, which might not be the best option in the sweltering Thai heat, but thankfully J’aime restaurant itself has a more practical approach to air-conditioning. The main feature in J’aime is an upside-down piano as a centerpiece in the restaurant. The entire kitchen is also visible from the dining area so you can see all the chefs inside preparing your food. I thought that was a nice touch.

Jaime-Restaurant

There is a dedicated booth outside the restaurant for reservations. This fixture is usually just for show in similar restaurants and I’ve never actually seen it manned. However, J’aime dedicates a staff member here, which is a refreshing change. Very proper, very French.

Marine-Lorain

The restaurant manager is Marine Lorain. If her name sounds familiar, it’s coz she’s the daughter of Jean-Michel Lorain, the namesake and owner of the original two Michelin star La Cote Saint Jacques in Bourgogne, France. She’s unfailingly friendly and very knowledgeable about the local food scene. She found out I’m here to pay homage to the recently published Michelin Guide Bangkok. I had a nice conversation with her about which Michelin star restaurants are worth a visit in Bangkok.

Jaime-Cocktail

I was here for lunch and ordered their set lunch menu, an excellent value at 1,200 THB. They also have a shorter express 3-course business lunch menu for just 990 baht, but I went with the longer one. I was still mildly hungover from the wine pairing at Gaggan last night so I indulged in J’aime (350 baht) – their signature cocktail made with Ron Zapaca, Captain Morgan rum, Melon liqueur, lime juice and passionfruit.

Jaime-Bread

The bread selection is pretty good too. I enjoyed nibbling on these with butter, which was replenished after I finished the pat.

Orange-Scented-Eggplant-Soup

Orange-scented eggplant soup, ratatouille, and fennel salad. The soup is poured on the dry ingredients table side. It’s creamy and there’s a lot of texture underneath. Pleasant.

Cacao-Nibs-Quinoa

Romaine lettuce garnished with avocado, cacao nibs, and olives, served with quinoa and a lime & cucumber juice. Corn, tomato, and a fresh herb garden. This salad came in two separate plates and you’re supposed to mix them together. I never would have thought salad would taste so good!

Fresh-Herb-Garden

It’s the most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten and that’s saying a lot. There’s a lot going on here – oils, foams, greens, grains. It’s fresh and every element adds something to the plate. I particularly enjoyed the green avocado foam.

Monkfish-Wakame-Plankton

There are two mains you can choose from, either Monkfish, eryngii mushroom, and wakame seaweed, with a rice & plankton emulsion or Duo of Phetchabun cherry duck breast and leg, served with mulberries and morning glory. I went with the monkfish as per Marine’s recommendation. It’s cooked well and flakes off beautifully. I also like the seaweed and plankton on the side – what better to accompany a piece of fish than marine foliage?

Candied-Fruit-Fig-Sorbet

Lightly spiced candied fruit with a fig sorbet, and a walnut & almond cracker ended the meal. I love this dessert! I’ve been moving away from chocolate based desserts recently and find that I appreciate the less sweet and more complex fruit based desserts more. This was perfect! It’s just the right note of sweetness (which is barely) and has nice acidic undertones from the fig and textural elements in the walnut and almond cracker. Excellent.

Amerigo-Tito-Sesti

J’aime does classical French cooking very well and their lunch set is exceedingly good value. I spent 1,590 baht (RM 202) inclusive of a cocktail and water. The service is attentive and the food is delicious. You’ll enjoy this if you like the French approach to cooking. I managed to take a photo with Head Chef Amerigo Tito Sesti too! Please excuse my prosperous stomach.

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (1 Michelin star progressive Thai)

Sra-Bua-by-Kiin-Kiin

I scheduled Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin as my last meal in Bangkok. I was flying back in the late afternoon so I made a lunch reservation. Sra Bua is in the beautiful Siam Kempinski Bangkok hotel. I’ve stayed at Kempinski Taschenbergpalais in Dresden and Kempinski Gravenbruch in Frankfurt and I’ve always been impressed by the excellent service there. I left my bags at their concierge for the whole day while I had lunch and walked around Siam Paragon. If the name Kiin Kiin sounds familiar to you, it’s the Michelin starred Thai restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. They’ve opened an outpost right in Bangkok and I’ve heard so many good things about the progressive Thai food they serve.

Sra-Bua

I was surprised to see every single table occupied when I arrived for lunch. This is very unusual, especially for a lunch service. I doubt all but the most popular restaurants can boast such a capacity. Sra Bua has a large odd-shaped dining room with chandeliers, water features, starched linens and servers in uniform. The waitresses are all trained well, able to explain the dishes and perform on demand (as is necessary to introduce some of the dishes).

Summer-Menu

I went for the seasonal Mini Summer Journey menu (2,100 baht) which was also promoted by a huge billboard outside the hotel. This is a special menu for summer and they don’t serve their regular (shorter) set lunch menu while this promotion is going on. They hand you a complimentary cup of lemongrass tea while you peruse the menu. I thought that was a nice gesture. Each table also has a huge bound book filled with Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin’s recipes you can read if you’re bored.

Tuk-Tuk

The meal started with the Street Food and Snacks appetizers and a bit of theater – my waitress came with a covered cloche and opened it with a flourish at my table. The smell of burning smoke filled my table. “Welcome to Bangkok”, she said with a smile. “Here’s some tuk tuk smell”. I thought that was quite clever.

Street-Food-and-Snacks

This came as a trio of appetizers – there’s a nacho dusted with their Sra Bua curry dust (which is made from actual curry and dehydrated for a few days before being turned into powder), the tuk tuk skewer bite and some dehydrated lotus root served on real lotus pods.

Lotus

The plating and presentation of everything was spot on.

Magic

My waitress then came with a bowl filled with black grain, which she presented to me. “There’s nothing inside”, she declared. She then shook the container vigorously, applying centrifugal force, before opening the lid with a flourish. “Magic” she said with a smile when a brown nugget appeared.

Wasabi-Biscuit

It’s a piece of bread that you’re supposed to eat with the wasabi sauce they had previously put on your table after telling you the other part is coming. I love this interactivity and storytelling. 10/10.

Smoke-Foie

Roasted Foie Gras, Mushroom Ravioli, Five Spices Pork Ravioli and Mushroom Bouillon came next with a cloche covering a cracker. This was opened so the smoke wafts out and you can smell it while eating. Beautiful. The generous chunks of foie gras was smoky and creamy. I love the mouthfeel. It goes very well with the Thai inspired pork ravioli.

Bouillon

There’s also very clear consommé poured by the waitress before you dig in that tastes intense and delicious. The yellow dabs of sauce have a mustard base to cut through the richness of the foie gras/pork ravioli.

Roasted-Foie-Gras-Mushroom-Ravioli

It’s a perfect dish. The cracker is infused with dust which wafts delightfully when you take a bite.

Nitrogen

Maine Lobster Salad, Frozen Red Curry is the signature dish of Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. It comes with billowing clouds of smoke from liquid nitrogen. It’s a whole lobster that’s been deshelled and served with herbs and edible flowers. There’s a scoop of their curry ice cream (curry sauce made into ice cream) and foam which tastes like the sea. The liquid nitrogen is not just for show – it’s there to prevent the curry ice cream from melting.

Maine-Lobster-Salad

All these components go so well together. The perfectly poached lobster is delicious when paired with their awesome curry ice cream and marine foam. I could have happily eaten this every single meal for the rest of my life. Excellent!

Slow-Cooked-Beef-Rib

Slow Cooked Beef Rib with Homemade Oyster Sauce was served next and it’s the only dish my camera AI recognized as “Food”. All the other dishes didn’t trigger the food AI. It’s so progressive it doesn’t look like food. The beef rib was wonderfully smoky and tender. They also serve a small bowl of rice with it so you’ll have something to pair it with. A thoughtful idea since the oyster sauce is quite salty and this is after all, a Thai way of eating. I love the crispy dehydrated vegetable too.

Mango-with-Sticky-Rice

The meal ended with an interpretation of Mango with Sticky Rice as dessert. It has vanilla ice cream and sticky rice at the bottom and comes served with a cotton candy cover which is dissolved by the application of hot mango sauce. It tasted alright but I’ve seen too many such executions in trendy cafes to be impressed. This is not Sra Bua’s fault though.

Sra-Bua-Petit-Fours

There was also complimentary coffee, which is a refreshing change. Usually coffee is charged at these restaurants for RM 20-30. The petit fours were dainty and unique – I particularly loved the cinnamon looking one, which is actually some kind of raw (as in nama) chocolate. Very unique textures and flavors.

Sra-Bua-HB

I really enjoyed Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. I truly think they deserve a second Michelin star. My experience here was almost on par with the 2 Michelin star Gaggan. My only regret was not choosing this for dinner so I can have a longer menu and dining experience. Lunch cost me 2,472 baht (RM 313) with water. I can’t recommend them highly enough – in fact the only two Bangkok Michelin restaurants I would recommend without reservation is Gaggan and Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. I will definitely be back for dinner next time I’m in Bangkok.

Nahm, Bangkok (1 Michelin star)

Nahm

Nahm is rated as the 10th best restaurant in Asia by the well regarded S.Pellegrino list. They also have a Michelin star in the Bangkok Michelin Guide. I was quite excited to try this restaurant as the owner is an Australian (Chef David Thompson) whose Nahm London was the first Thai restaurant to get a Michelin star. It’s unusual for an Aussie to be regarded as a trailblazer for Thai food in Thailand so the kudos doesn’t come with some amount of controversy. However, he has since stepped down and given over the reins to Chef Pim Techamuanvivit (who owns the 1 Michelin Star Kin Khao in San Francisco).

Nahm-Lunch

I must admit, I’m not an expert in Thai cuisine and I don’t know enough about flavor combinations and classic spices to comment on that. I just know what tastes good to me. I’m hitting up several Thai restaurants with a Michelin star this trip (Nahm, Sanah Jaan, Bolan and Sra Bua) so I can compare between them. I thought my Bangkok Michelin star collecting trip should include an appropriately large sample of Thai food restaurants.

Nahm-Bangkok

Nahm is located at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok, which is a nice hotel in a swanky neighborhood. There’s a private school just up the road. You can see the pool from the restaurant and the interior of Nahm is decorated elegantly. There’s soothing Thai instrumentals playing softly over the speakers and the lighting is subdued, but with powerful directed lights illuminating the tables so you can see your food when it comes.

Nahm-Rice

The service was excellent too. I had a very attentive (in a good way) waiter that anticipated my needs and wants. From our conversation, he found out that I’m a food geek and offered me a tour of the kitchen by the chefs, which I enjoyed very much. I like how some service staff is astute enough to know what you like and provide that proactively without asking. It’s a sign of great service. 10/10.

Chatri-IPA

I ordered a Chatri IPA (360 baht). It’s a collaboration edition between Full Moon Brewworks in Phuket and Stockade Brew Co in Australia. It’s a very hoppy beer, pleasantly bitter and grassy tasting. It goes very well with strong tasting Thai food.

First-Bite

The first bite was a savory crepe made with prawns. It’s crispy and sweet-savory. It tastes very shrimpy and goes well with the sweet toasted coconut topping. I went for the lunch set menu for 1,600 baht. You get both canapes, a choice of one each from the entrée, soup, curry and wok fried, steamed and grilled sections as well as a dessert.

Nahm-Canapes

The canapes was Bright santol dressed with dried shrimp, pork, peanuts and herbs served on crisp rice crackers (470 baht) and Miang of lobster, chicken, green mango, snake fruit and herbs served on thong-lang leaves (500 baht). Santol is a tropical fruit that is shaped like a mangosteen but orange in color. The server recommended eating the santol one first since betel leaf is quite intense tasting. I liked it but I prefer the miang kham interpretation. I love the addition of snake fruit (what we call salak in Sarawak) in the betel leaf (actually Indian coral tree leaf, the other leaf they use for this). It’s very flavorful, complex and appetizing, three characteristics you want people to describe your entrée.

Nahm-Entree

I chose the Fiddlehead ferns from Northern Thailand with songkla wild prawns and delicious tawai dressing (780 baht) as my entrée. The fiddlehead ferns were perfectly cooked, as was the accompanying juicy shrimp. The prawns added the taste of the sea into the dish and the coconut and chilli notes rounded things up. It’s excellent but a bit difficult to eat with the provided spoon. A fork would have been better.

Nahm-Main-Courses

The main dishes all came together next. I’ll go through them one by one. You’re supposed to eat the dishes together with rice, of which two varieties were served. There’s a Thai red rice option that tasted surprisingly good and a white fluffy variant I preferred (Suphanburi young harvest rice). These were topped off promptly too, the waiter will come with the two mounds of steaming rice on banana leaves when he sees you’re about to finish yours.

Tom-Yum

I liked the Tom yum soup of river prawn, blue foot mushrooms, chilli jam (450 baht) with a single large prawn. This was my choice of soup. The spiciness level is quite intense even for me, and I eat Thai bird eye chillis raw by the bunches. It’s very good though. It’s so sour and flavorful! The soup really whets my appetite.

Red-Curry-Duck

Rich red curry of duck with snake fruit, sour yellow eggplant and chilli leaves (770 baht) was decent. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about it. It just had the misfortune of coming out with the stellar fish, which overshadowed it. It’s decent and spicy, just a bit too oily for my tastes. Not my favorite thing.

Steamed-Grouper

The fish was the real star. I went for the Steamed leopard coral grouper with pork, fermented yellow beans and fried garlic (880 baht). It’s red coral steamed perfectly with aromatics. So delicious, I wanted more. There’s a lot going on here, both flavorwise and in the texture department. I saw whole taucu bean split in half and there’s some crunchy elements in the dish too.

Pandanus-Dumplings

Dessert is a sesame crepe and a local Thai sweet with a dish described simply as Pandanus dumplings in fragrant coconut milk (350 baht). I spooned one mouthful and was so pleased I exclaimed “Mmmm…” out loud! I thought it was bubur cha cha or something similar. I expected it to be hot. It’s not. It’s icy cold with shards of tiny ice. The strong and intense jasmine taste is spectacular. You can smell it before you eat it and the jasmine permeates all your taste buds and sense of smell. So awesome! They make it with jasmine scented water.

Nahm-Me

The pandan dumplings are delicious too. They’re not sweet, almost neutral and slightly bitter. It’s perfect paired with the mildly sweet jasmine water. It was so good I ordered another serving a la carte. No joke. The a la carte one came with more dumplings and an additional crepe. My waiter sheepishly told me that the set menu only has 1 crepe and less dumplings but the a la carte has more. This dessert also tastes better when you break the crepe into the dish for a crunchy texture. Such a strong finish!

Nahm-Kitchen

I was given a tour of the kitchen courtesy of my waiter. He introduced me to Head Chef Jan, who delegated another younger chef to bring me around the kitchen. Nahm has a huge kitchen, with a finishing/plating area featuring the same lamps that are in the dining room, presumably so they can see how it actually looks like outside. There’s a dry area, a wet area and a special kitchen for pastries/desserts. There’s even a charcoal grill inside where they can grill prawns for that authentic smoky flavor! I also went to the kitchen they share with the rest of the COMO Hotel F&B outlets. I hear this is where they prepare room service.

Ending-Bite

The ending bite is a small bite they give you when you ask for the bill. It’s the polar opposite to the first bite, the yin to that yang. This cracker is sweet instead of savory but the filling is the same toasted coconut. I thought that gave the meal a nice and symmetrical cap.

Nahm-Chefs

I highly recommend Nahm for Thai food. Their lunch is a great deal at 1,600 baht. I went with a beer (360 baht) and an additional pandanus jasmine dessert (350 baht) so my bill was 2,718 baht (RM 343). Lovely ambiance, excellent service, great food. I couldn’t ask for more. Recommended!

Raan Jay Fai, Bangkok (1 Michelin star)

Jay-Fai-Crab-Omelet

This crab omelet place with 1 Michelin star has been getting a lot of hype as the first and only street food to snag a star in the Bangkok Michelin Guide. The crowd waiting (in)patiently for a seat in Raan Jay Fai shows that people are still very willing to wait hours for a taste of their famous crab stuffed omelet. I made a booking via email and still had to wait 1 ½ hours to get my food. Some of the walk-ins have waited upwards of 5-6 hours! The wait is excruciating coz Jay Fai insists on cooking every single dish herself over a charcoal fire.

Jay-Fai-Bangkok

There was a Thai man who got rather irate at a group of Caucasians who let another two late-comers join them. They were not part of the original group. However, the well-run front of house politely let the interlopers know they can’t stay. The service side is run by Jai Fai’s sister (as heard from Marine, daughter of Jean-Michel Lorian who runs the 1 Michelin Star J’aime) and she is unfailingly warm and friendly.

Jay-Fai-Queue

People who walk in are expected to stay in the area as she’ll call their numbers every hour on the hour. You’ll forfeit your spot if you leave or fail to respond. There are several tables and chairs outside for people waiting. You can’t enter the premises until your number is up. I had to wait outside until my 8 pm reservation too. You’re only seated once your timeslot is available so the inside is for customers about to eat only. I thought that was a great way of making it uncluttered.

Jay-Fai-Reservation

I can see my name and email at the reservations list. They’ll ask you to show the original email to confirm that you’re indeed who you say you are. There must have been cases of people trying to pass themselves off as someone else in the past due to the exceedingly long wait.

Thai-Airways

It’s probably the only Michelin starred restaurant in the world to use cutlery nicked from Thai Airways though. I thought that was pretty funny.

Crab-Omelet

I ordered their famous crab omelet. There are no more small and big sizes, it’s now 1 size only for 1,000 baht (RM 126). It came beautifully brown and glistening. Jay Fai only uses 2 eggs in this omelet, the rest of the bulk comes from crab meat! There are no fillers either so everything inside this huge roll is de-shelled crab meat. I thought it’ll be very oily since it’s deep fried in a wok filled with oil but it’s not. The crab meat inside is still succulent too. It goes so well with the slightly acidic sweet chilli sauce they serve on the side.

I really enjoyed this dish. The luxury of eating massive amounts of crab meat without having to go through shells is not something to be scoffed at. I felt like a maharaja who had servants de-shelling the crab for me. It tasted delicious too. 10/10.

Drunken-Noodles

I also went for the Drunken Noodles (500 baht or RM 63). These are flat pieces of chewy noodles cooked with tender squid, delicious crab (the same de-shelled crab found in the omelet), soft cuttlefish, juicy huge prawns and toothsome mushrooms. It’s a seafood bonanza. I thought it tasted good too, for the first few bites at least. Then the sodium hit me. This dish is unbearably salty! This is coming from someone who smashes 3 packets of Mi Sedaap in a single sitting so when I say something is salty, it probably means it’s excessively so. I had to struggle to finish eating this. It’s good but Jay Fai should really work on the sodium content.

Jay-Fai

Raan Jay Fai is one of those Bangkok experiences you have to go through (like Gaggan). The bill came up to 1,525 baht (RM 192) with the crab omelet, drunken noodles, and water to drink. I enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with waiting with total strangers. I had a nice long conversation with my tablemate, an Indonesian programmer working in Africa. One highlight was a Caucasian girl clapping her hands excitedly when her crab omelet arrived. “I’ve never waited for something this long”, she exclaimed.

She’s been waiting since 3 pm and it was 9:30 pm when her food arrived. “Let’s order another beer to celebrate,” she proclaims and the whole restaurant started cheering whenever everyone got their food, including me. I thought that was pretty cool, a shared bond that you’ll only get after hours of being cramped together in a small non-air conditioned shop lot on a hot Bangkok night.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle (1 Michelin Star)

Hill-Street-Tai-Hwa

I made it my mission to smash one of these famous bowls of pork noodle (bak chor mee) during my recent trip to Singapore. I have heard about the legendary lines which can form here, so I checked Google to see which are the non-peak hours and went with my dad at 3:30 pm on a weekday. They’re the second ever hawker stall in Singapore to be awarded a Michelin star, after Hawker Chan. I have eaten at their competitor High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle, which has recently won a Bib Gourmand, but should not be confused with the 1 Michelin Star Tai Hwa. It’s run by the nephew of the owner of Tai Hwa though.

Tai-Hwa-Eating-House

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is located at a small residential food court. There are a few other stalls besides it and even at this odd hour, there was a queue in front of the stall.

Tai-Hwa-Noodle

However, it moved quite quickly so it wasn’t an issue. The chef-owner Tang Chay Seng was there cooking every single bowl by himself. I managed to take a selfie with him. He must think it odd that the Michelin Guide has elevated him to a somewhat celebrity chef status but I’m sure many people have done this before so he must be used to it. Haha.

Tai-Hwa-Selfie

There’s a large setup of trays beside him which holds raw pork – everything from pig liver to sliced and minced pork. The meat are just sitting in their juices. I admit, I did wonder if this was refrigerated/has ice below the trays or the stall just goes through meat so quickly that it doesn’t have a chance to spoil. I’m not that anal about food safety. I happily eat at random food stalls with questionable hygiene practices all the time. Just curious.

Pork

I have experienced some hits and misses with the Michelin Guide in Singapore and thus braced myself for a mediocre bowl of noodles. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The flat noodles have a wonderful bite to them but it’s the sauce that makes it shine. The beautiful concoction it was tossed in has a nice vinegar taste, which helps cut through the richness of the pork. It’s very savory and I can see why people love it. The pork slices and wonton are delicious too, but it’s the soup which stole the limelight. The pork broth is mixed with seaweed and results in a umami explosion. Top notch! There’s also a deep fried piece of fish which adds a nice texture.

Tai-Hwa-Pork-Noodle

There are many Michelin star places which I would never visit a second time. This isn’t one of them. I would come here when I’m in Singapore again coz the pork noodles are really good. I regretted ordering the SGD 8 medium sized bowl. I’ll go for a large next time.

1-Michelin-Star-Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Blk 466, #01-12, Crawford Lane, Singapore

1 Michelin star Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Hawker Chan)

Hawker-Chan

This was the very first street food/hawker stall in the world to ever win a Michelin star. Not Bib Gourmand, a proper star. It’s a common misconception that Michelin rates ambience and decor when giving out stars. They have always maintained that the star is awarded for food only, and that includes things like the chef’s personality coming through clearly. They have a separate icon for comfort/ambience (fork and spoon) which rates how luxurious the restaurant is but star ratings are always based on the quality of food alone.

Liao-Fan-Hong-Kong-Soya-Sauce-Chicken-Rice

I was in Singapore with a mission to try out this much hyped soy chicken rice stall. I made sure to go to the right one. People have the false impression that the Michelin star travels with the chef and applies to all outlets he opens. That’s simply not true. The Michelin star is rated for that restaurant only. The only Hawker Chan with 1 Michelin star is their original shop at Chinatown Complex Food Center. The modern and air-conditioned new premises opposite only has a Bib Gourmand.

Hawker-Chan-Queue

I went early with my dad before they opened and thought I was lucky enough to be first in line. There didn’t seem to be a queue. I confidently walked up to order, only to be told the queue was behind me. It was only then that I spied a long snaking line of people looking displeased at me. Haha. I honestly didn’t see them. The queue starts from beside the opposite stall so they don’t block foot traffic. It even has a velvet rope. Very proper.

Hawker-Chan-Selfie

The wife of Chan Hon Meng manages this stall and she was friendly enough to take a photo with me. Service is quick and the line moves along well so don’t worry about having to queue up.

Hawker-Chan-Menu

I ordered the flagship dish of soy sauce chicken rice. It’s SGD 2.50 for the drum portion. The meat was marinated beautifully, with a sweet soy glaze that permeates the gelatinous skin of the chicken. It’s surprisingly flavorful and robust. I can taste cinnamon and other spices in the marinade. The inside is still soft and juicy. I love this perfectly cooked chicken. 10/10. However, the chicken rice I got was lumpy and mushy. Maybe they were having an off day but I’m not a fan of this rice, which seems to have the fundamental error of having too much water mixed in.

1-Michelin-Star-Chicken-Rice

The soy chicken is delicious though. Would I return? For sure, to try the noodles next time. I hear it’s pretty good too. You need to set your expectations right for Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. It’s a soy chicken rice stall so don’t expect fireworks and novel molecular gastronomy executions. They’re good at what they do and that’s soy chicken.

Hawker-Chan-Order

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Hawker Chan)
335 Smith Street #02-126, Singapore
(don’t go to the wrong one, this is located inside the Chinatown Complex Food Center)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...