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.
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!
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.
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.
A trio of appetizers came, all of which were excellent.
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 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 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.
The main dishes all came together next with rice.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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.