The former residence of the herbal medical doctor to King Rama V is filled with Asian antiques and Thai crafts to create an intimate residential feel. Out of respect to the original owner, the food uses herbs and spices with medicinal qualities, while delivering refined Thai gastronomy created using the finest fresh ingredients.
Dishes are more contemporary in their presentation with many served on black slate. The mieng bussabong (B300) is a variation on the more familiar mieng kham, which originated in India. The betelnut leaf wrapping has been replaced by an open lotus petal filled with non-traditional salmon with the usual mieng condiments of diced shallot, fresh ginger, garlic and lime still in its skin.
There is a strong Chinese influence on Thai cuisine, particularly in street food. This is demonstrated by the mhuu daeng bping (B280), a combination of Cantonese char siu with a Thai pork skewer.
Another multi-ethnic dish is ghai khem thong (B280), the healthy combination of grilled chicken filets with Enoki mushrooms and herbs that combines Thai, Chinese and Japanese flavours. It’s not the typical mainstream dish but it’s beautifully conceived and executed – and a point of difference that makes Ruen Urai worth visiting.
There’s a refreshing, tangy taste to the tom yum ghai bai makham ohn (B280), a spicy and sour soup of chicken and young tamarind leaves, an interesting flavour combination that is rarely found elsewhere. The historic Lanna Kingdom of Northern Thailand extended into Burma and that culinary influence can be tasted in the ghaeng hunglae (B320), a Burmese-style pork curry with ginger and garlic.
The traditional end to a Thai meal is fresh fruit and desserts – as evidenced by the Ruen Urai dessert plate (B150). It comes with mango and sticky rice, miniature fruits made from yellow beans and Portuguese egg desserts. This again demonstrates that the Portuguese gave Thai cuisine the chilli but also the dessert.
A visit to Ruen Urai offers not only a great dining experience but also a journey of discovery into the rich history of Thai cuisine, which, of course, mirrors the history of the country itself.
The Rose Hotel, 118 Surawong Rd | 02-266-8268
ruen-urai.com | Noon-11pm