Reviving rare and regional recipes
Once you enter the courtyard of the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, the manic melee of people, cars, and street stalls along Phaholyothin Road feels like it’s a world away. Here the annoying background noise of Bangkok’s evening traffic is completely shut out. And in this serene garden, complete with lush greenery and a swimming pool, is also where you’ll find Suan Bua, the hotel’s charming Thai restaurant. Decked out with wooden furniture, and comfortable, cream-coloured cushions, its interior design ties in well with the natural surroundings, inviting one to enjoy a relaxing meal in this little urban oasis.
With a focus on sourcing natural and organic ingredients, the menu Chef Santiphap ‘Por’ Pechwao has put together encompasses traditional dishes from all over Thailand—many of which are difficult to find elsewhere, and bear a long history as well (which the always smiling chef is happy to share).
To start this culinary journey around the kingdom, we first indulged in a refreshing Thai samphire and crabmeat salad (B390)—samphire being a green shrub found only in the Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram provinces. The salad was soaked in a light coconut milk “dressing”, while the fresh samphire leaves atop added a saltiness to the dish.
This was followed by Kapi kua (B290), a dip made of preserved shrimp paste and coconut cream. Originating from the Rama V period, it came served with an assembly of vegetables, including lotus stem, banana blossom, white turmeric, wing and string beans, and eggplant, as well as bite-sized pieces of crispy, grilled fish.
Our first main course consisted of Duck curry with eggplant (B450). The ducks—the stars of this dish—are reared in Northern Thailand’s Royal Projects, and lend a deliciously smoky flavour to the mild curry. And accompanying each of the individual courses was a special and wholesome Hom Mali rice, which is organically grown on the slopes around the extinct Buriram volanco in Thailand’s northeast.
A definite highlight, in terms of both presentation and taste, were the large Grilled river prawns filled with spicy clam meat (B790). Traditionally stuffed with crispy pork fat, chef Por swapped the meat for clam, which he stir-fries with red curry paste, dried shrimp, galangal, and salty egg yolk.
A fitting ending to this traditional Thai meal came in the form of the tangy Som chun lare ja mongut buarnd Rama II (B250). The citrusy, flavourful syrup, scented with Jasmine flower, is served with pieces of snake fruit and lychee, and is accompanied by two gooey bits of coconut milk and sticky rice candy wrapped in banana leaves. If you prefer a more substantial dessert, opt for the classic Kanom pung sang ka ya bai toey kub i-tim vanilla (B170). Traditionally consisting of toasted bread slathered with sweet pandan leaf custard, chef Por also adds a big scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra twist.
LLF, Centara Grand, Ladprao, 1695 Phahonyothin Rd.
Tel: 02 541 1234 ext. 4068 | Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm; 6pm-10:30pm