Well-made Thai regional classics to savour against an elegant backdrop
Even I have to admit it, the phrase “authentic Thai” has been overplayed. Because the simple fact is, that it is almost impossible to account for the vast sprawling array of regional flavours and styles—or so I’ve always believed. However, Basil restaurant, located in the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok hotel, manages to gracefully accomplish this feat, all the while educating your palette and creating an altogether memorable experience.
The venue itself is just pure elegance. The muted, earthy tones and plush furnishings craftily marry the pomp and fanfare of hotel chic with all the safe comforts of casual fine dining. And, with the addition of private rooms available for larger parties, it’s not hard to see why the place was booked out and thriving by the time we’d been seated and ordered.
The concept behind the set menu is simple. Guests can choose which of the four distinct regions of Thailand they’d like to try, and take that journey in eight courses. Prices start from B1,500 all the way through to B1,800. Portions are generous here, and you’re taken on a degustation journey from the heavily Muslim influenced meaty dishes of the Southern regions of Thailand, through to the infamous fiery heights of the Northeastern area of Thailand (aka: Isaan). Although there were a few well known classics on the list, for the most part the menu included quite a fair array of dishes that would no doubt pique the interest of even the most seasoned local.
The Lanna (Northern Thai) starter of Yum Gai Sai Haoplee, or steamed chicken with banana blossom, was a surprise. Thoroughly spiced, this unique herb paring came with a kick that silenced the table, as we tried to decipher its content. This contrasted immensely with the Yum Pollomai Pal Muk, or spicy tropical fruit salad with grilled baby octopus, from the ‘Gulf of Thailand’ sharing menu. It delivered a salty sweetness that left tongues salivating in anticipation for the mains.
Of course, the Lanna region’s Deep Fried River Prawn was the show-stopper. Its rich, unctuous sauce and diced vegetables leap out at you, demanding reverence. The Phad Straw Goong, or bitter bean with prawn, rounded up the mains swimmingly with its aromatic bitterness. This was paired with a Vada Gimlet (B350), an excellent gin and lemongrass number from the bar.
From their regular menu, the piquant, fresh and flavorful Koy Tuna (B430) was just wonderful. After only one bite in, I understood why this balance of tangy, salty, and heat remains the restaurant’s most sought after dish. However, by the time the beautifully arranged desserts tray came round to present the traditional selection of after dinner sweets, I was thoroughly stuffed. I could only just find room for the delectable Coconut Creme Brûlée—and, naturally, the plate was licked clean.
Journeys such as this are worth the travel.
By Zipporah Gene
1F, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit
250 Sukhumvit Rd.
Open: Mon-Fri, noon-2:30pm; daily, 6pm-10:30pm
Tel: 02 649 8366