“Aroi maak” gets a French accent
As Bangkok’s many-faceted international dining scene continues to grow in diversity, so too has a diaspora of local chefs introduced the wonders of Thai cooking to an appreciative international audience.
With six popular restaurants and bistros in and around Paris, Madame Shawn is one such successful foreign-based Thai entrepreneur. Her motherland branch of the native French eatery chain taps with a wealth of overseas culinary experience to create a perfectly curated selection of authentically prepared “imported” Thai cuisine.
Semi-conveniently located along Sukhumvit Soi 49’s bustling “downtown” strip, Madame Shawn herself (the anglicised version of the owner’s Thai given name) holds court in a converted private home. Tastefully rendered, high-concept contemporary interior elements and traditional Thai touches blend seamlessly to create a refined, homey-feeling décor that reflects the owner’s cross-cultural background.
Our Franco-Thai gastro sojourn begins with a plate of Yum Ma Keua Yow (B125), a spicy grilled aubergine salad that capitalizes on the strange but utterly satisfying bedfellows of ground pork and shrimps, drawn together in a rich, tangy-sweet pairing of chili paste and coconut milk.
Often described as traditional Thai hors d’oeuvres, Miang Kham (B115) is a group-friendly specialty not commonly offered by higher-end venues. Usually end user-assembled, here the leaf-wrapped savouries come pre-loaded with the wildly dissimilar array of condiments—toasted coconut, fresh ginger, peanuts, dried shrimp, lime sections and chili—arranged on a single fresh bai cha plu or “wild pepper” leaf, and slathered with a thick, salty-sweet chili sauce. The resulting flavour-fugue these bite-sized bundles deliver is surprisingly complex and surpasses the sum of their individual ingredients.
A “farang” foodie-favourite, Madame’s Kai Pad Med Mamuang Himmampan (B170) combines boneless, pan-fried chicken bites, cashew nuts, red bell pepper, and green onion with a savoury-sweetish sauce that pairs perfectly with the dried red chili.
The not-to-be-missed Khao Soi Kai (B175) literally turns this Northern Thai soup dish on its head. Rather than the expected bowl of coconut-curry broth with bone-on chicken, this “Transformer” of a dish arrives as a platter piled high with loose crispy noodles, which are topped with generous pieces of curried boneless chicken. The thick, rich sauce is absorbed by the topmost crispies, creating a chewy-crunchy dynamic that gives the house version of this traditional dish its one-of-a-kind allure.
Dessert’s first act is a bowl of Bua Loy Peuak (B75), a sweet coconut-cream broth typically made with translucent taro drops, but here the dumplings are solid and dark, giving them an appealing artisanal appearance and firm bite. The Panna Cotta Tub Tim Grob (B140) are petit tumblers of luxuriously smooth coconut custard topped with chewy, crimson-glistening taro “rubies”.
While experienced Thai food enthusiasts will appreciate the authenticity and attention to detail that have enchanted the palates of discerning French diners for the better part of a decade, newcomers to the cuisine will too be smitten with Madame Shawn’s for its light-handed use of chili, vast menu selection, and surprisingly reasonable prices.
By Chris Michael
127, Sukhumvit Soi 49, 3 Alley
Tel: 02 258 1205
Open daily: 11am-3pn, 6pm-10:30pm