In a town that has be­come some­thing of a neb­ula for feted chefs and res­tau­rants, a new star is set to join the fir­ma­ment, says Matt Wilde

Thailand Tatler - - CONTENTS -

Front Room, the sig­na­ture restau­rant at the re­cently opened Wal­dorf As­to­ria Bangkok, is the per­fect venue for ris­ing star chef Fae Rungthiwa Chum­mongkhon to show­case her in­no­va­tive French, New Nordic and Thai-in­flu­enced cui­sine, says Matt Wilde

Af­ter years spent learn­ing her craft in the kitchens of mul­ti­ple Miche­lin­star es­tab­lish­ments across Europe, in­clud­ing Fred­erik­shoj in Den­mark and the three-star La Belle Epoque in Ger­many, chef de cui­sine Fae Rungthiwa Chum­mongkhon has come home to helm Front Room, the sig­na­ture restau­rant at the Wal­dorf As­to­ria on Ratchadamri Road.

Born and raised in Chi­ang Saen in north­ern Thai­land, Fae re­calls that as a girl she was al­ways think­ing about food. “Not be­cause I was con­stantly hun­gry,” she laughs, “it was be­cause I was fas­ci­nated by flavours and how they worked in com­bi­na­tion. I still am.”

At Front Room chef Fae deftly blends a mix of fine French cui­sine with New Nordic and Thai influences. “I com­pose my recipes so that main in­gre­di­ents are ac­cen­tu­ated and then add notes from other cul­tures and culi­nary

tra­di­tions to sur­prise and tit­il­late. I use Thai tech­niques in the prepa­ra­tion of tra­di­tional French and Scan­di­na­vian cui­sine to cre­ate orig­i­nal vis­ual and con­tex­tual flavours and im­pres­sions that are at once in­no­va­tive and yet fa­mil­iar to the au­di­ence. In this way I com­bine the new with the tra­di­tional and the West with the Far East.”

These sen­si­bil­i­ties show in her imag­i­na­tive tast­ing menu, from which guests can choose a seven or 10-dish meal. Some of the dishes also ap­pear on her con­sid­ered a la carte menu, which of­fers the choice of four ap­pe­tis­ers, four main course dishes and four desserts, all of which change ac­cord­ing to the sea­son.

The tast­ing menu be­gins with Velkomen, an amuse bouche of five beau­ti­fully pre­sented bite-sized morsels that in­clude crous­tades with pomelo and shrimp, fish cracker with sweet-sour gel and sweet potato with peanut and green ap­ple. The vi­brant, tangy flavour com­bi­na­tions do a great job of warm­ing up the palate for what is to come.

The Nordic in­flu­ence in chef Fae’s cook­ing is ap­par­ent in an of­fer­ing called Asia Pa­cific, a dish of thinly sliced smoked sea bass with co­conut and broc­coli. The flavours are del­i­cate but punch is added through the smok­i­ness of the fish and a zesty vinai­grette dress­ing. Next is Bak­ing Beet­root, a vis­ually strik­ing dish of gelled and pick­led beet­root, pick­led pa­paya and caviar served with a beet­root sauce made with rich chicken stock. The nat­u­ral sweet­ness of the beet­root com­bines with the salti­ness of the caviar to give a sub­tle taste of the briny Nordic sea. This is fol­lowed by Mom’s Soup Mem­o­ries, a homely serv­ing of squid noo­dles in a thin but flavour-packed chicken broth. An ex­tra di­men­sion is added with a driz­zle of gar­lic oil.

One of the stand­out dishes ar­rives next, Blue of the Sea, which com­prises crab, cel­ery cru­dité and a hol­landaise-style yel­low curry sauce that has a flavour and con­sis­tency not un­like the creamy may­on­naise-based sauce of coro­na­tion chicken. When the viands move to land we are served Raised in Chi­ang Rai, Cooked in Bangkok, a dish of deboned and re-stuffed chicken with black rice puree the­atri­cally pre­sented in a dome of smoke. Its ten­der de­lights are fol­lowed by an equally fine dish called The King of Beef, a seared piece of suc­cu­lent wagyu striploin served with an ox­tail and morel-en­riched fumet stock.

To fin­ish we en­joy the palate-cleans­ing dessert of Green on Ice—a re­fresh­ing basil and white choco­late mousse with mango and sesame—and a se­lec­tion of chef Fae’s uniquely flavoured and beau­ti­fully pre­sented hand­made pe­tit fours.

Front Room, Wal­dorf As­to­ria Bangkok, 151 Ratchadamri Rd. Open daily, 5:30-10:30pm. Tel:0-2846-8888 See din­ing.thai­land­

PALATE PLEASERS ( Clock­wise from top) Mom's Soup Mem­o­ries, squid noo­dles in a rich chicken broth; Raised in Chang Rai, Cooked in Bangkok is deboned chicken with black rice puree, lemon­grass and cress; Blue of the Sea fea­tures crab, cel­ery cru­dite and a creamy hol­landaise-like yel­low curry sauce

vis­ual feasts ( Clock­wise from top left) Chef Fae presents her de­light­ful pe­tit fours in their spe­cial box; The King of Beef, suc­cu­lent wagyu striploin; in the vi­brant dish of Bak­ing Beet­root the veg­etable has been gelled and paired with caviar

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