Baltic Blunos Brings The Fire And Ice
Both descended from Latvian stock, the two chefs behind Baltic Blunos, the latest dining venture by well-known UK chef Martin Blunos, are by nature opposites: Blunos gregarious and ebullient, the younger Aleksandrs Nasikailov much more reserved. It is a partnership that works well—each a foil to the other as they happily talk patrons through their unique creations. What both men certainly have in common is their passion for putting the lesser-known flavours of their ancestral homeland and the wider Baltic region on Bangkok’s culinary map.
As with its principals, the restaurant’s inviting interiors show a hot-cold combination, mixing the icy stone-grey hues of the remote Baltic backwoods in winter with the warm browns and golds of summer in the vastness of the same birch forests. Watercolours of Latvian landscapes painted by one of Blunos’ uncles and beautiful custom-made glass, ceramics and wooden tableware help to reinforce this atmosphere.
For Blunos the new venture marks not so much a return to the Michelin-star-hunting days of his early career (his restaurant Lettonie in the southwest of England eventually held two stars), but rather a move away from the international casual-chic fare served at his eponymous poolside outlet at the Eastin Grand Sathorn and a step back towards his fine dining heritage.
“What matters most to Aleks and I here is introducing unknown culinary highlights from the region where our families originate. We enjoy explaining Latvian or Baltic ingredients and flavours to patrons. Our dishes have interesting stories to tell. The contemporary elements in what we do come from the way we combine those flavours and play with textures and presentation,” says the Iron Chef judge.
In this regard the pair have distinguished themselves with six-course (2,900 baht) and eight-course (3,400 baht) tasting menus that change periodically and comprise a range of crossover dishes featuring Baltic ingredients combined with some of the more familiar flavours of Asia. Standout among them is a dish of Latvian reindeer with celeriac, pickled mushroom and red wine and ashberry sauce. “You can’t get more Christmasy than that,” Blunos laughs. The seared meat is very tender and has a smoky, slightly gamey flavour.
Also good is a dish of mackerel, lightly brined in the Baltic fashion and garnished with beetroot and horseradish. It comes after a vibrant offering of moon flowers stuffed with Thai almond paste served in a tom kha sauce. Next is a tender piece of slow-cooked octopus with wasabi and ant egg aioli, which is followed by a moreish dish of foie gras tortellini with truffle foam and a nutty caramel-like balsamic of Latvian birch sap. Prior to the aforementioned dish of reindeer, a course comprising Hokkaido scallop with sustainable Mottra caviar from Latvia arrives with a lush hollandaise sauce.
To finish is Nasikailov’s delightfully festive snow ball dessert, a meringue confection containing mango ice cream and white chocolate served on a bed of dragon fruit ‘snow’. Patrons are also invited to pick a couple of the house-made chocolates to enjoy with their coffee from a selection of 15 presented in a custom-made wooden box.
The restaurant has a strong wine list with a flat 500 baht mark-up on all bottles, meaning there are some decent wines to be had at very reasonable prices. But do consider pairing your meal with Nasikailov’s wonderful, slightly effervescent kombucha drinks flavoured with the likes of liquorice, porcini, coconut and mangosteen. Fermented for four days, they are very mildly alcoholic and very refreshing.
Whatever the occasion, a convivial evening at Baltic Blunos provides eye-opening flavours and lots of fun besides.
Try it. You won’t be disappointed.
129/9 Thonglor Soi 9, Sukhumvit Soi 55
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