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.

Certifiably ill Mama noodles @ Jeh O Chula (Bib Gourmand)

Jeh-O-Chula

Bib Gourmand instant noodles? You betcha! This is the immensely famous Jeh O Chula (written in Michelin Guide as Jay Oh) with queues almost as legendary as Raan Jay Fai. I had the misfortune of dropping by without a reservation and the girl there told me it’ll be a 2 hour wait minimum. I had come from the dubious entertainment district Nana Plaza (claiming to be The World’s Largest Adult Playground) where I indulged in 7 beers and the company of questionable women. I also had dinner at Upstairs at Mikkeler prior to that, so I was still quite full.

Jay-Oh

Jeh O Chula is a surprisingly spacious restaurant with a huge kitchen churning out bowls and bowls of Mama noodles. I imagine such a fast-paced kitchen would have harried staff but they’re all really friendly. The ones closest to me posed when they saw me snapping a photo so I took a selfie with them. It’s like an assembly line of instant noodles to feed the appetite of the masses seated outside.

Dirty-Forty-Beer

It seemed inadvisable to order another beer after a huge dinner followed by a drinking session with unfamiliar women at a go go bar. My stomach was almost at capacity and I wondered if I would be able to finish all the food. I decided to try. This is Dirty Forty Amber Ale (160 baht) – a beer brewed in Perth, Australia but conceived in Bangkok. I drank it with delicious, refreshing ice. Don’t judge me bro, it was hot outside and I have been waiting for a long time.

Jeh-O-Mama

This is their famous Mama tom yam instant noodles with seafood. It’s a huge portion with 3-4 packets of Mama noodles inside. Jeh O Chula’s signature dish is tom yam soup and they use their homemade tom yam soup instead of the flavor packets in Mama, which is what makes this so good. There’s tons of prawn and squid and the noodles are crowned with 2 raw eggs, which adds a wonderfully creamy flavor and cools down the noodles.

Mama-Noodles-Bib-Gourmand

I immediately copied this idea for my cheat meals and I’ve been eating instant noodles with raw eggs since. Jeh O Chula has a beautiful tom yam soup base – it’s spicy and sour and hits all the right notes in whetting my appetite. I told the server I can handle very spicy food, Thai spicy, and this one delivered that in spades. It was almost too spicy but I loved it. I loved it so much I scarfed everything down, even though I was dangerously close to puking from the sheer amount of food.

Thai-Sashimi-Salad

I also ordered a side of their wonderful Thai style salmon sashimi. This is like a ceviche or umai – there is an acidic liquid made with lime that cures the salmon. It’s not entirely cured though, most of it is still raw. It sounds simple but the alchemy that goes into the ingredients produces such a delicious bowl of fresh seafood. This dish is out of control! The addition of mint and raw garlic kicks up the flavor by a few notches! I love it! Not to be missed.

Jay-Oh-Bangkok

I was so enamored by everything that I contemplated declaring Jeh O Chula as my top destination this trip. That would be exceedingly unfair to Gaggan and probably the beer talking so I’ll just say it’s the best comfort food I’ve ever had. I highly recommend their awesome Mama tom yam noodles and their insanely good Thai style salmon sashimi. Do note that Jeh O Chula only starts serving their famous Mama noodles after 11 pm. They have standard khao tom (congee) with cooked dishes before that. Visiting Jeh O Chula late at night for supper is something you must do when you’re in Bangkok. I can’t recommend it enough.

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