Upcoming tasting menu lets you eat through the eras
Along the skyscraper-lined South Sathorn Road sits an eye-catching example of Chino-Portuguese architecture that has stood the test of time (while many similar structures have fallen victim to developers). Known as the ‘Thai Chine Building’, this three-storey house was built in 1903 as a department store in what was the most exclusive neighbourhood of Bangkok during that time. In 2002 it became the flagship branch of the world-renowned Blue Elephant Restaurant & Cooking School.
Reminiscent of an era bygone, everything stays true to the culinary culture and traditions of Thailand—the food, the building, the decorations, and the warm hospitality and service. Steeped in historical elegance, the ground floor is occupied by a large dining room filled with dark wooden furniture set against stark white linen and plenty of green foliage placed throughout. A small shop located near the entrance sells branded merchandise, crockery, and cooking products, while the 2nd floor hosts large function rooms, and the 3rd is home to the cooking school.
Master Chef Nooror Somany-Steppe is currently working on a new set menu featuring dishes from the four eras of Thai history—Sukhothai, Ayuttaya, Thonburi, and Rattanakosin. Taken out of age-old recipe books, some dishes are extremely rare and unfamiliar even to Thais. At the time of writing the menu had yet to be confirmed, but Chef Nooror gave us a sneak peek of some dishes that may go on the menu (prices yet to be confirmed).
Our culinary history lesson began with entrees of Tang Mo Pla, watermelon served with dried fish and adorned with ikura, first served during the reign of King Rama IV, as well as a traditional Thai snack—an assortment of nuts and herbs served with caramelized coconut sugar, tamarind sauce, and shrimp paste wrapped in betel leaves. These were soon followed by Sago Chicken (a favourite of King Rama I) consisting of steamed pandan sago stuffed with caramelized chicken, sweet turnip and crushed peanuts, and Latieng, wild blue swimmer crab wrapped in an elegant, creamy egg nest. The Rice Field Catfish with prawn salad and the Tom Jew Nuea—an old-world broth with stewed beef, sweet potato, and shallots—were both beautifully light but fragrant and suited well before the heavier main courses.
The main courses, naturally, were served to share and included: Jungle Curry from the Sukhothai era, a firey snow fish curry; sticky and sweet Caramelized Pork (a childhood favourite of King Rama VI); and Mumbai Beef from the Rattanakosin era by way of India, made with turmeric and dried spices and served rare. Kao Man Som Tam—coconut steamed rice and papaya salad from the palace of King Rama VI—accompanied the mains.
For dessert, Mung Bean Custard served in a sugar nest and topped with gold leaf and Som Chun, local fruits in tangerine perfumed syrup, were the perfect dishes to end with after a long evening of eating.
By Kelly Harvey
233 South Sathorn Rd.
Tel: 02 673 9353
Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm