Open kitchens are in vogue but Mei Jiang at The Peninsula Bangkok has taken it a step further with the newly launched Chef’s Table concept. Already regarded as one of Bangkok’s finest Cantonese restaurants, Mei Jiang is giving customers the chance to go behind the scenes and observe their star head chef Jackie Ho (main image) prepare for an exciting dining experience.
Mei Jiang has built a private room with a window looking directly into the kitchen. It’s an immersive experience, the muffled clatter of pots and pans providing an authentic soundtrack – diners are so close they can almost smell the ingredients sizzling in the woks.
Ho started out in Hong Kong when he was 13 and built a prolific career before moving to Mei Jiang. Unlike some chefs who have a narrow focus, Ho delivers a broader selection of Chinese flavours, presenting seafood imaginatively and introducing an element of traditional Chinese medicine, creating food that has restorative powers as well as satisfying the tastebuds.
Of course, the Chef’s Table needs to have the food to make the idea work and Ho delivers a set menu (B6800 or B7600 including matching tea selections) that combines strikingly elegant presentation with flavours that reveal themselves slowly but linger on the tongue.
First off the line is the savoury crab claw with white custard and ginger. It’s a surprising combination that has become one of Ho’s signatures – and can prove a challenge even for confident chopsticks-users.
The highlights keep coming: in sautéed prawns with black garlic and wolfberries (above right), Ho combines contrasting flavours in one mouthful that also lowers cholesterol. The poached red garoupa with rice sauce and sun-dried pickles settles the stomach and Ho’s special fried rice with fresh scallops leaves the emphasis entirely on the scallops – when the produce is this good, it’s entirely sensible.
The winner, though, may still be the pan-seared fillet of Australian beef with black pepper paste (above left) – it’s something that shows up in most Chinese restaurants but Ho has created a dish with refined, long-lasting flavour. The beef is perfectly cooked but it is the slightly fiery sauce, handed down through Ho’s family, that is truly spectacular.
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The Peninsula Bangkok, 333 Charoennakorn Road | 02-861-2888 | peninsula.com| 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm