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Digest Taan Is A Rebel Force In Bangkok's Culinary Scene

Taan Is A Rebel Force In Bangkok's Culinary Scene

Taan Is A Rebel Force In Bangkok's Culinary Scene
By Ploylada Sucharitachandra
April 16, 2019
Thailand Tatler enjoys the edgy culinary creations at new restaurant Taan, where chef Monthep Kamolsilp is championing the best and most eclectic of sustainable local produce
A scrumptious serving of braised wallago fish in coconut curry
A scrumptious serving of braised wallago fish in coconut curry

Situated at the 25th floor of Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok with a spectacular backdrop of Bangkok’s skyline, Taan is a gem for any special occasion. But beyond the lovely view and ambience shines the restaurant’s profound commitment to serving innovative Thai interpretations driven by “hyper-local” ingredients. This philosophy, grounded in executive chef Monthep Kamolsilp’s culinary beliefs, makes the new dining establishment an appropriate pick for a month of local appreciation.

Prior to the launch of Taan, chef Monthep headed the hotel’s French kitchen, La Vue. It was his foraging trips in the north of Thailand that gave him a new perspective. “I exposed myself to a huge variety of lesser-known local ingredients cultivated by independent farmers. The trips were also about discovering what we call Thai wisdom, which I think is slowly disappearing because people are changing their ways,” says the 29-year-old. “I wanted to share these valuable stories.”

Stir-fried sea prawns with a luscious rice salad of torch ginger flowers, herbs and fermented fish puree
Stir-fried sea prawns with a luscious rice salad of torch ginger flowers, herbs and fermented fish puree

“At Taan we try to reach out to small, local farmers and producers with fresh approaches that align with our beliefs on sustainable growth and social responsibility,” he adds. Then the chef smiles broadly and says with a spark of rebellion, “But we don’t necessarily play by the rules of traditional recipes here. I’m also learning new things along the way—I wasn’t originally trained in Thai cuisine.”

Today we explore a few star dishes from the a la carte menu. To start, the executive chef’s personal rendition of kung chae nampla presents a refreshing burst of umaminess. Plump Ranong spiny lobsters cured in fish sauce are served with dollops of nutty green chilli sauce and a garnish of caviar from the Royal Project. Next, a beautiful serving of namprik long rua is plated with fresh vegetables and deep-fried king mackerel topped with crispy sea bass. The relish is a bold combination of luscious ingredients such as stir-fried chillies, shrimp paste, sweet pork and seasonal sour fruits, which marry well with the sustainably-caught fish that is cooked fresh instead of salted as traditionally served.

Deep-fried king mackerel with nam prik long rua, a bold stir-fried chilli dip with seasonal sour fruits
Deep-fried king mackerel with nam prik long rua, a bold stir-fried chilli dip with seasonal sour fruits
A refreshing starter of wild-caught spiny lobster cured with fish sauce and served with frozen green chilli sauce and Royal Project caviar
A refreshing starter of wild-caught spiny lobster cured with fish sauce and served with frozen green chilli sauce and Royal Project caviar

Taan’s tom khlong features a soulful broth of dried fish with braised organic pork back ribs, burnt and fresh chillies, coconut milk and tamarind leaves—the result is rich and flavourful. From the sea, try the perfectly braised wallago fish, which is presented in a smooth yet full-bodied southern coconut curry. For crustacean lovers, stir-fried sea prawn with holy basil is beautifully paired with a salad of rice, torch ginger flowers, herbs and fermented fish puree.

On a meatier route, organic pork belly is roasted until juicy and tender. It has a wonderful crispy skin and is a perfect balance to the accompanying stir-fry of young bitter beans, deep-sea shrimp paste and fresh chillies. If you prefer beef, recommended is the turmeric charcoal-grilled Himawari wagyu beef shank (from Nakhon Ratchasima), which is reminiscent of the southern-style golae. Marinated overnight and slow-cooked for another two, the cut is especially tender and its smokiness goes exquisitely with charred pineapple and pickled spicy galangal.

Chef Monthep Kamolsilp heads the kitchen team at Taan
Chef Monthep Kamolsilp heads the kitchen team at Taan

Chef Monthep also lends his creativity to the sweeter side of things. Steamed kanom taan, or toddy palm cake, is served with creamy, burnt whole pumpkin ice cream (yes, the skin too), shredded coconut mousse blended with toasted nuts and a sweet and savoury shrimp garnish. Also recommended is velvety Thai tea ice cream with a base of cow’s milk and rice. It is presented with syrup-poached golden egg yolk threads and goat’s milk simmered with millet.

This new dining destination is thankfully far from gimmicky. Taan beautifully reminds us of long-forgotten values and illustrates a hopeful future for the Thai dining scene, where players are grounded and supportive of local endeavours, yet at the same time continuing to evolve. Keep a lookout for the restaurant’s occasional collaborative chef’s table and Farmer’s Talk events.

Taan
25/F Siam@Siam Design Hotel, 865 Rama I Road
Lunch noon-2:30pm (Mon-Fri); dinner 6-10:30pm (daily)
0-2217-3000, taanbangkok.com

(More dining reviews: 137 Pillars' Nimitr Gave Us The Feast Of Dreams)

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Digest Dining Restaurant Bangkok Taan Thai Food

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