There’s no huge restaurant tradition in
Thailand. It’s either food at home, or snacks from the street. Which are mainly Chinese in genesis. So when David Thompson first opened Nahm, the locals were less than impressed. Here was a non-Thai, having the sheer bloody nerve to try and teach them about their own culinary heritage. The cheek of it!
But Thompson, who speaks fluent Thai and has worked here for years, is a genius, a man obsessed with travelling the land and finding traditional regional recipes to bring back and serve up at Nahm. Last year, the place was ranked the fifth-best restaurant in Asia in that endlessly silly 50 best list. But don’t let that put you off, because at Nahm, the surroundings might be five-star, but the food is thrillingly visceral.
Of course, Thompson doesn’t compromise for timid Western palates. Thai food is all about balance and if a dish demands hot and sour, then hell, it will be very hot and very sour. The kitchen makes all its own pastes daily (of course they do), and ingredients are treated with a respect verging on the reverent. Samphire and oyster salad, green mango with grilled pork, hot and sour river prawn soup. Chiang mai chilli prik, massaman oxtail curry and stir-fried beef with chilli, holy basil and cumin leaves. This is eating in Technicolor. You’ll sweat, swear and grin inanely as Thompson and his kitchen deliver plate after plate of lip-smacking, eye-watering, thighslapping delight. An excellent wine list, too, heavy on the Riesling and Gewürztraminer that suits these pumped-up flavours. Once you’ve finished, give it a couple of hours then hit the streets, to feast upon wobbling oyster omelettes and cold Singha beer by the metre. You can never tire of Bangkok.