The grand re-emergence of an Italian legend
It’s been more than six months since The Sukhothai Bangkok’s storied Italian eatery La Scala shuttered its doors and submitted to the contractor’s hammer. But beginning in November of this year, delighted regulars and dazzled newcomers alike have been introduced to a menu of new house-creation plates along with the sparklingly refined new ambience of this city-icon palace of la bella cucina.
Sparing no expense to offer its patrons a feeling of refinement and exclusivity, La Scala embarked on a meticulous design process led by Tokyo-based firm Spinoff. As the namesake of a famed 18th-century opera house in Milan, the newly unveiled La Scala uses elements of this majestic historical edifice in its core design, such as fine mosaic tiles, famed Bianco Carrara marble, and a dramatically effect-lit oval ceiling.
The new La Scala actually has a third word to its name, Tamburini, a silent suffix which defines the table’s authenticity and artistic flair. And in creating his post-renovation menu, Chef David Tamburini has kept the legend alive with a clean-slate-fresh incarnation that interlaces the best of contemporary Italian cooking with his unmistakable signature approach to the culinary arts, to wit…
An amuse bouche, stunning in its simplicity and minimalist construct, is comprised of just a single egg shell, slender-end up, with a spoon size hole on top. Inside, part of the original contents are gently blended into a cold potage of Parmesan, truffle, and ginger cream, and the resulting intense combined flavours are blossomed and texturized with egg yolk—the culinary version of how ambergris enhances the fragrance of a fine perfume.
Also brought out was a golden-fried pizza bread with marscapone, kale, and anchovy that was so good we talked our dining partner out of the third one on the plate.
Our starter was the Carciofi e Cardi in Insalata (B880), a salad dish as striking in its presentation as its garnish is intriguing. Feeling almost guilty about spoiling the aesthetic, we reluctantly forked into the tender artichoke petals and cardoons (a root plant closely related to the artichoke), which intricately interlaced into an elegant ‘bracelet’ formation, and came dressed with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, pine nut milk, and egg yolk—the nut milk delivering a luxuriously smooth mouth feel.
Capesante in Inzimino (B1,350) offers a pair of invitingly plump seared Hokkaido scallops with herring caviar, served with just enough outside browning and interior succulence to create the perfect firm-tender balance. And betraying a liking for the popular and leafy health food favourite, Chef David again rolls out the kale in no less than three distinct forms in this dish alone: deployed fresh in a petit Brussel sprout salad, mixed with breadcrumbs and fried into a dumpling, and finally in a palate-dazzling black kale Inzimino dressing.
A classic pasta and seafood dish gets the Chef Tamburini treatment with the Linguine Limone e Scampi e Cagliata di Mandorla (B1,350). With its proper al dente bite, the pasta comes off here as a major flavour source, having been cooked in lemon leaf with infused fish essence, while the mini-crustacean langoustines are sweet and firm to the bite. And in another example of creative curd-ing, the dish’s almond “cheese” bears a delicate texture not dissimilar to a moist halva or marzipan, with a pleasantly nutty finish.
Ravioli Rucola e Parmigiano al Burro Bianco (B900) presents as a jumbo-sized pasta pocket filled with rocket salad and premium, 24-month aged Parmesan cheese in sour white butter, while the Faraona alle Olive (B1,800) is a masterpiece most fowl—roasted guinea fowl, as a matter of fact! The diminutive but famously flavourful French-imported bird is served with a superfood suite of Mantovana yellow pumpkin, black olives, grape leaf, and fresh grape.
La Scala’s real-deal stone oven produces a seductive array of pizzas made with legacy-quality Italian ingredients including spicy nduja salami paste, fresh Italian basil, black truffle and Fiordilatte mozzarella, sour stracchino, campania buffalo mozzarella, and mascarpone cheeses. Highlights include the Pizza Fritta (B690), deep-fried pizza dough stuffed with fiordilatte mozzarella, and the Schiacciatina (B790), a signature La Scala creation comprising crispy pizza bread filled with mozzarella cheese, tomato, rocket, and Parma ham.
For a fine-dining establishment, La Scala’s mix-masters sure know their way around a cocktail shaker. Their signature cocktail menu (B490 each) is teeming with clever names and innovative blends that make for some might fine sipping. For instance, though Grandma Fizz does not sound like a drinking man’s drink, the chamomile infused Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, honey and grapefruit soda concoction really hits the spot. Meanwhile, we promise the Breakfast in Italy contains no scrambled eggs, just grappa, Limoncello, and lime juice… ok, and orange jam. Then there are the Italian-themed creations like Coffee Negroni—named after an 18th century Italian aristocrat—with Jamaican rum, Campari, Frangelico, and coffee-infused red vermouth, as well as a drink with a veiled Catholic reference, the Italian Mary, with olive oil (extra virgin, we’re guessing) infused vodka, tomato juice, and balsamic vinegar reduction. Finally, the Godfather Part 2, a straight-up stereotype moniker, combines bourbon, fernet reduction, amaretto di saronno, and orange peel.
By Chris Michael
GF, The Sukhothai Bangkok
13/3 South Sathorn Rd.
Open daily: noon-2:30pm, 6:30pm-11pm
Tel: 02 344 8888