Tuesday, January 16, 2007

High Dining in Bangkok

Vertigo Restaurant Bangkok

Sitting on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel on what I figured used to be the helicopter landing pad, has to rate as one of the most spectacular settings for a quick drink before dinner and a bowl of nuts. The Moon Bar and it’s aptly named parent restaurant Vertigo has the most remarkable views of anywhere that I’ve picked up a knife and fork. It’s not just the fact that the whole of Bangkok is spread out around you and that the view is an uninterrupted 360 degrees, it’s the fact that it’s completely open air and quite a pleasant place to sit, cool with a gentle breeze, though I am told they close it when the wind picks up. Probably a good thing, since the barrier around the edge is virtually non existent and there isn’t much of a ledge. The Moon Bar’s stunning setting hides a multitude of sins. It’s a bit of a squeeze and you have to use a torch to see the menu. Vertigo has an unimaginative but solid grill style menu, with highlights being the Slow Braised Beef Rib and a surprisingly good savoury mango soup. Not exactly classic Thai but well executed and hell, with that view who gives a monkeys what you are eating. Next time I’ll stick to the nuts and gawp.

61 floors below and just next door at the stupendously cool Metropolitan Hotel is the ferociously minimal Cy’an. The restaurant is all white linen and subtle blue lighting and brutally simple place settings. The staff are decked out in combat trousers and tee shirts and there is an air of causal competence and effortless cool to the proceedings with the usual tinge of chaos that seems endemic to eating anywhere in Bangkok. Chef Amanda Gale was a chef de cuisine with Neil Perry at Rockpool in Sydney and has created a subtly east meets west style menu that stays true to the ethos of simple sophistication and using local produce that Perry is famous for. Mediterranean flavours sit comfortably with Asian simplicity. This isn’t fusion, thankfully, just a stunningly inventive menu.

The amuse bouche of Spanish tapas had me slightly bemused when they arrived, but my raised eyebrows were soon replaced by shock. They were excellent; the jewel-like white fish croquettes were a delight and shamed most attempts at these I’ve eaten in the UK. Starters of Slow Roast Pork and Crayfish Salad with Peach Foam and 3 Oysters with Flavoured Ices were beautifully executed and delicately flavoured. The mains of Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce and Spiced Pork with Roast Pumpkin where more robustly put together dishes yet that didn’t diminish their impact allowing a few strong flavours to shine through. The dessert of caramel tart and reduced milk ice-cream was flawless. You can tell I like place. Cy’an’s growing reputation as the best restaurant in Bangkok is well deserved.

Bangkok's Bed Supper Club

The Bed Supper Club is an enormous white tube split into a restaurant on one side and a bar and club on the other. It’s the kind of brainless trendoid enterprise that I would normally avoid but I had had numerous recommendations and the girlfriend was keen to eat lying on a bed, which is the restaurants big gimmick. Inside the achingly hip white interior, replete with DJ playing non-descript vaguely funky tunes and ironic video projections, the space is lined with long white beds on two levels. You lie on these beds and your food is brought to you and served on dinky plastic tables. A person doing robotics walks around in a white plastic Mac and it’s one of the only places in Bangkok that the staff had that studied indifference of hip spots the world over. The food was actually quite good, despite the fact that the pink lighting makes everything on your place look weird and there isn’t actually room on the tables to put two plates down. A very healthy sized lobster tempura with avocado stood out. The joy of a place like this is the people watching, especially when Asian OK! Magazine is holding its weekly party on the night you are there. We had a cracking time in the club watching Bangkok’s American accented beautiful people try and get photographed and marvelling at ineptitude of the DJ.

Celadon at the Sukhothai Hotel, again on the South Sathorn Road hotel strip near to the Banyan Tree, occupies two simple pavilions in the grounds of the hotel and they serve quintessentially Thai food. It’s got a slightly hotel restaurant vibe to it’s d├ęcor but the menu is a treasure trove of Thai classic and regional specialities made with expertise and a deftness that you’d be hard pressed to find in many Thai restaurants in the West. Chicken in pandan leaves were a marvel, a scallop salad tender and sweet, a stir fried pork and kale deeply savoury and a duck curry fiery and sweetly sour. The staff were professional in that slightly overly courteous hotel manner but less so than normal and they had a sense of fun that was genuine and infectious. It was a relaxed and lovely meal that showcased the best in Thai cooking beautifully.

Moon Bar and Vertigo: The Banyan Tree Hotel, 21/100 South Sathon Rd, Sathon, Bangkok, 10120 Tel: +66 2 679 1200
Cy’an: The Metropolitan Hotel 27 South Sathorn Road Tungmahamek Sathorn Bangkok 10120 Tel: +66 2 625 3333
Bed Supper Club: 26 Soi Sukhumvit 11,Sukhumvit Road,Klongtoey-nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110 Tel: +66 (0)2 651 3537
Celadon: The Sukhothai Hotel 13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, 10120 Tel +66 2 287 0222


Anonymous said...

Great round up, MG. Though i noticed no mention of the Oriental...?

Anonymous said...

There's a Bed Supper Club in Amsterdam staffed exclusively by Transvestites. They can't really get up the ladders