SCANDINAVIA on the PLATE
THAI-BORN SWEDISH CHEF SAYAN ISAKSSON DEMONSTRATES EXACTLY WHY HIS STOCKHOLM RESTAURANT EARNED A MICHELIN STAR
FOR THE last few days, the St Regis Bangkok has been celebrating the very best of Nordic cooking by hosting a “Simply Scandinavian” promotion at all the hotel’s restaurants.
The food is cooked to perfection by acclaimed guest chef Sayan Isaksson. Diners have one last chance to savour his three-course set lunch and three-course set dinner at the restaurant Jojo today, though he will be on hand to serve up a Scandinavian Sunday Brunch at Viu tomorrow and lay the foundations for Afternoon Tea at the Lounge and the St Regis Bar until the end of the month.
The Thai-born Sayan was adopted by a Swedish couple as an infant and has spent his life in Sweden. Now 44, he developed a passion for cooking during his teens and went on to work with several renowned chefs. He opened his Esperanto restaurant in Stockholm in 2005 and earned his first Michelin star in 2007, retaining it until the restaurant closed earlier this year. Esperanto was also awarded the highest food score ever, 40/40, by the White Guide, considered the most authoritative guide in Sweden.
He catered for the prestigious Nobel Banquets in 2015 and 2016 and is much appreciated both for his technical excellence and his commitment to sustainability in the kitchen, refusing to discard even the humble onion peel, turning it instead into a savoury broth.
Sayan brought an array of Scandinavian specialities to Jojo, where over the past week, diners have enjoyed not just the cuisine but also music and culture.
The dinner menu starts with a selection of Amuse Bouche featuring smoke-scented pickled quail eggs with chicken-infused whipped cream. The creamy yolk teases the palate with its sweet flavour before giving way to a delectable smoky aftertaste. They’re followed by Kumamoto Oystershells topped with Oscietra caviar in which the crispy edible shells made to resemble oysters are matched with salty caviar. A dish of lightly grilled prawns in nasturtium leaves brings the first part of the dinner to a triumphant end.
Next on the menu are Oriental garden tartelette, buttermilk fromage blanc and Hamachi imitating gravlax, in which the fish, usually salmon, is rolled then smoked. Sayan adds to the flavour with Scandinavian dashi and horseradish, which he says has a kick similar to that of wasabi.
One-bite flash-grilled dry-aged beef tartar is presented alongside emulsified oysters and crispy seaweed, bringing lots of different textures to the same dish. Perfectly complementing these Asian-infused Scandinavian flavours is the mushroom porridge with grains, aged butter and yuba. Sayan adds a touch of visual drama by pouring tasty tea soup in a separate cup to intensify the flavour.
Softshell crab cooked over glowing embers with organic-waste-XO comes in an attractive presentation with a piece of green leaf covering the whole dish. It tasted goods too though I personally found it a little too salty for my taste.
The chef, who along with his team, is on hand to discuss the dishes and how he prepares them, told The Nation
Weekend that he has more signature techniques than signature dishes. The celeriac petals and white truffle is one of his favourites. It looks simple but is actually quite complex, requiring the celeriac to be sliced into thin pieces then crafted to resemble a rose. He personally slides in the white truffle in front of the guests to allow them to experience the full aroma.
For the main course, he served Black garlic pigeon imported from France, enhancing the flavour with five Nordic spices – garnish, cinnamon, black pepper, fennel and dried chive flowers.
The meal ends with his best-known dessert, “Autumn Leaves”, featuring frozen sunchokes and grilled apple tea with ice cream made of potato. Despite its vegetable base, the icy delight is surprisingly sweet thanks to the white chocolate and has a wonderfully thick creamy texture. The sophisticated dessert is beautifully decorated with crisp caramel to resemble autumn leaves.
“In my line of work, I need to push the boundaries and explore within the realm of good taste. Of course, it’s important to maintain balance and my dialogue with customers helps my creativity. I get energy from customers – when they are happy, I am happy. I'm really honoured and moved by this opportunity to cook in my birth country. My wish is to infuse Scandinavian flavours with the very sophisticated and brilliant food culture of Thailand,” said Sayan, who is determined to learn more about Thai food and open a restaurant.
The three-course set lunch at Jojo features oriental garden salad, buttermilk fromage blanc and a poached pullet egg, followed by black garlic pigeon, Nordic five spice, potato and herb bundles, and finishes with Autumn Leaves.
Celeriac petals white truffle Hamachi imitating gravlax, Scandinavian dashi and horseradish
The elegant ambience of Jojo’s Restaurant
Softshell crab cooked over glowing embers, organic waste-XO
Black garlic pigeon, Nordic five spices, and dried chive flowers
Flash-grilled dry-aged beef tartar, emulsified oysters, and seaweed crisps
Oystershells with Oscietra caviar
“Autumn leaves” – frozen sunchokes potato ice cream and grilled apple tea
Oriental garden tartelette and buttermilk fromage blanc
Chef Sayan Isaksson