The Mandarin Oriental’s beloved Italian eatery re-emerges from a makeover hiatus with an all-new look, but retains its irreplaceable gastronomic soul.
A familiar name on the local fine dining scene, Ciao Terrazo has long served a loyal following of discerning local diners, visiting dignitaries, and overseas tourists. Following the completion of extensive renovations, the exclusively alfresco venue again welcomes those who can appreciate its fervently authentic and passionately prepared Italian cuisine.
The expansive dining area, roofed only in twinkling starlight, is an enclave of rich historical character with a storied past. Galey illuminated ferry and cruise boats gracefully glide past along the legendary Chao Praya River, while nearby luxury towers dramatically pierce the night sky. The modern riverscape starkly contrasts the Oriental’s stately heritage wing, which majestically overlooks the terrace.
But despite the rebirth of Ciao Terrazza—with its brand new livery of stylishly understated, contemporary décor; modern, subdued lighting, and redesigned menu—one precious facet remains unchanged: the hotel’s long-time culinary mastermind, Chef Norbert Kostner. A native of northern Italy, he has been the creative chi of the Oriental’s kitchens for forty-two years. A fluent Thai speaker and widely respected Bangkok social scene personality, Chef Norbert today serves as the hotel’s grand guru of all things culinary.
Chef Norbert’s reputation as a skilled chef, and standing as one of the region’s elder statesman of gastronomy, is amply reflected in the very first taste of marinated raw salmon and white sea bass (B390) with its buttery-smooth bite and tangy herb dressing, Taggia olives, capers, and pickled lemon.
A complimentary plate of bruschetta, served alternately with traditional cold cuts like salami, mortadella, prosciutto, and Parma ham nicely rounds off the starter course.
With an emphasis on one Italy’s iconic signature dish categories, the restaurant offers a diverse and intriguing variety of pasta options like the ultra-fine-gauge “angel hair” with crabmeat (B480), a heavenly, slightly piquant pasta creation with young garlic, green asparagus, and chilli, while the house-made black ink fettuccine with sautéed cuttlefish (B400) is a real palate dazzler with crisp imported broccoletti florets, wilted cherry tomatoes, and oregano.
A wonderful pizza (B320-490) Capricciosa emerges from the restaurant’s purpose built, wood-fired oven, with bubbling mozzarella, olives, artichoke, and the kind of crisp-bottomed, slightly scorched and smoky flavoured crust that can only come from the flame-heated stone baking surface of the dome-topped horno. Among the sumptuous offerings found in the mains are the veal piccata and white wine pan-jus (B920), the wafer-thin, parsley-dusted veal medallions from Holland served with imported butter-sautéed chard, and grilled lamb chops with roasted plum tomato (B900), the tender, bone-on Australian lamb hatchets beautifully seasoned, served with butter-sautéed spinach and two firm-cut slabs of fried polenta.
It’s worth noting that all Ciao’s seafood dishes are pleasantly “clean”-tasting, without the strong pesca-ine finish common to ocean-derived foods. This is the fruit of Chef Norbert’s uncompromising obsession with freshness, a practice which results in seafood dishes of a milder, less obtrusive palate, which leaves more “gustatory bandwidth”—so to speak—available for savouring the authentic seasonings and other premium imported ingredients.
A light yet satisfying dessert, the three-variation Panna cotta (B320) is a delightful flavours-triumvirate featuring a row of elegant vase-like vessels filled with familiar and daring versions of the creamy-smooth Italian sweet: caramel, apricot-rosemary, and strawberry-basil. Charmingly reminiscent of family-style dining, a brimming bowl of tiramisu “Ciao” with brandy and coffee liqueur is presented tableside as a generous dollop is ceremoniously ladled onto the plate. Finally, a lemon-chocolate mousse tart (B290) comes in at the high end of the flavour intensity scale, its epic sweet-sour richness providing a suitably sated conclusion to this one of a kind dining experience.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 48 Soi Oriental Ave | 0 2659 9000 ext 7640 | mandarinoriental.com | daily 5pm–1am