Since the closure of Gaggan, generally considered as the best restaurant in Bangkok, many restaurants vie for the top position. This Filipino food critic puts forth R-Haan as a viable option.
The celebrity chef Chumpol Jangprai (of IronChef Thailand) of R-Haan serves Royal Thai cuisine to the public. The cuisine includes old forgotten recipes that he has researched, presenting in a multi-course samrub (traditional Thai shared eating style).
Even the tableware is reproduced from traditional Thai tableware once used in the Royal Palace during the Rattannakosin era.
They only had one set menu when we were there: monsoon menu 2912++ baht (S$131) per person.
After a welcome drink presented with dramatic dry ice, we’re off! It’s a bit risky to serve coriander in the crispy coconut coriander crepe roll because some people have DNA that makes them find coriander distasteful.
But this risk has paid off with us. It is super delectable! The crispiness pairs well with the earthy smoke; the coconut with the spicy-sour tom kha cream. Topped it off: the luxurious bubbly caviar from The Royal Projects.
Our excitement soon dulls with too many spherification in the dishes, including the salted egg in a sphere in the fiddlehead fern salad. Not sure why it was necessary to spherify it.
The salad is interesting and if I say it’s too sour, I could put it down to Thai cultural tastes. The oysters, which look tiny, explode with flavours.
Another spherification dish: they make mushroom soup in a jelly sphere. It is innovative in making a soup into a solid, playing with textures and ideas of what a soup is. But the crumble is dry as sand, giving an unpalatable sensation.
Another spherification dish, I have had enough. The basil sphere sits on the Wagyu Thai spicy sausage, a streetfood, which is super tasty.
For soups, they have a choice of either tom yum soup with live king river prawns or, if you cannot take spicy, free range chicken consomme with bilimbing. (Bilimbing is an Asian fruit which gives the soup a tamarind-like sourness.)
The consomme is uplifting. While the tom yum isn’t spicy–Royal Thai dishes are supposed to be less spicy–the prawns are amazing. Never have I eaten prawns that are so sweet and umami.
At this point of the meal, they dump all the dishes on the table and we eat it communal style. The food goes downhill from here.
The perch fish curry is weird: pungent, almost liquorice-like, yucks. The beef Massaman curry is okay, tender and sweet.
The sweet basil rice is dangerous–so fluffy and soft like cloud–I was tempted to ask for more.
This spicy tamarind stir-fried minced pork tastes exactly as it sounds but what is interesting is that it acts like a dip for the local Thai vegetables, many of them unfamiliar to me. Each piece brings to the dip its unique flavour. I thought this dish seems more like a welcoming snack than a main.
While the steamed crab curry is nice, it gets cold (and not tasty) quickly. Besides, it is a similar repetition from a pervious dish, making it seem like the chef has run out of creativity.
Like the mains, the desserts are no good too.
I understand where they are going with the chocolate mousse but it doesn’t work. There is a layer of chilli gel in the chocolate mousse (not a novel idea to pair chilli and chocolate), and the chilli is supposed to go with the sourish tamarind ice cream. It’s like this: chocolate pairs well with chilli which pairs well with tamarind. But the chocolate, which forms the mass of the dessert, just doesn’t complement the tamarind.
And I don’t understand the necessity of the candied coconut.
The classic mango sticky rice is reinvented here: they made a mango-shaped casing, enclosing cubes of mango. It is fun but not the best.
All around us were tourists, no locals. I suppose locals would know cheaper restaurants with better food. Including a bottle of very expensive water (550baht, S$25!!!), we paid 7514baht (S$338), which is the price of one return-flight (SIN-BKK) on Thai Airways.
Dress Code : Smart Casual (no open-toe footwear, no sleeveless.)
You may make a reservation on Chope.
English Address: 131 Pai Di Ma Di Klang Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Bangkok 10110
Thai Address: 131 ซอยไปดีมาดีกลาง แขวงคลองตันเหนือ เขตวัฒนา กรุงเทพฯ 10110
T: + 66 2 059 0433 – 34, + 66 95 141 5524
6 pm – 11 pm
Price / value: 5/10
Decor / ambience: 6/10
You may be interested in…
–Issaya Siamese Club, Bangkok Thailand: #39 Best Restaurant in Asia
–Bo.Lan, Bangkok Thailand: #37 Best Restaurant in Asia
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.
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