For a change from the usual Southern and Royal Thai cuisine in Bangkok, we decided to try a Khan Tok (Northern Thai) Tasting Menu at this restaurant within the grounds of the Shangri-La hotel …or should that be within the waters of the hotel? The pavilion is on the bank of the Menam Chao Phraya (Chao Phraya River) and it was filled to capacity with tourists and locals. Perhaps it was the special Northern Thai promotion which brought the crowds; but crowd in, they did! It was reassuring that there were so many locals dining as it implied some modicum of authenticity was expected.
Where else can you expect restaurant Greeters like these? 🙂
Rather like an Indian Thali meal, all the dishes were served on a platter. The idea behind a Thali is to offer all the 6 different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on a single plate. The last two “flavours” are actually forms of chemesthesis or sensations. According to Indian food customs, a proper meal should be a perfect balance of all 6 flavours. A fruit is often served at the end of meal.
India and Thailand have been culturally linked for centuries with many Indian influences on Thai culture. Many Thai words are derived from Sanskrit, India’s classical language. Pali, which was the language of the ancient Magadha kingdom adjacent to Thailand and the teaching medium of Theravada Buddhism, is another important root of Thai vocabulary. Buddhism, the major religion of Thailand, originates from India. The Hindu legends of Ramayana are retold in Thailand as ‘The Ramakien’.
As usual, local Singha beer was the best drink to have handy.
Clockwise from 12 o’clock:
SAI-OUA CHIANGMAI: Chiangmai Sausage.
NAMPRAK NHUM: Spicy Green Chili Dip with crispy pork skin.
This was more like a spicy salsa verde with just enough astringent piquancy to counterpoint the fatty, fried sweet sausage and crispy skin.
LARB PLADUK: Spicy Grilled Catfish Salad Northern Style.
The cool cucumber and crunchy green beans were very welcomed with the roughly chopped cooked river fish that was sweet, sour, and salty, not to mention HOT and SPICY.
KAENG KHAE GAI: Chicken & Vegetable Curry Northern Style.
An unusual tomato-based light curry with the occasionally bitter baby eggplants. They are the little green “pea-like” vegetables in the photo.
KAENG HUNGLAE: Pork Curry with young ginger.
Pork and ginger go well together and this tomato-based curry thickened with potato starch was most excellent.
KHANOM JEEN NAM NGEIW: Rice noodles and beansprouts (Accompanied by the central Spicy Minced Pork in tomato sauce). This was my favourite dish. The rice vermicelli and lightly blanched beansprouts gave contrasting textures to help mellow the fierce sauce. The subtle touch was chopped green salt-preserved vegetables.
KHAO OUNJIN: Steamed rice in banana leaf contained minced pork and herbs.
This was a meal in itself and indeed, in the countryside, it would have been a workers easy-to-carry lunch. Of course, ye average peasant may not bother with chopped spring onions and deep-fried shallots that accompanied the dish.
KHAO NAEW: Steamed glutinous sticky rice.
This is an acquired taste but very popular in Thailand especially in the North. It was useful for mopping up any spare sauce left over from the varied platter.
I prefer sweet desserts made with glutinous rice and the usual favourites are either mango or durian flavoured.
Simple dessert of longan stuffed with sweet jelly and yellow jackfruit julienne on crushed ice. Longan (dragon eye) fruit is smaller than lychee and with a different aroma.
We thought Northern Thai food was lighter than the Southern and Royal styles. No coconut cream was used and there was more emphasis on pork and tomatoes as the North is far from the sea. It was spicier though …yum. ‘AlphaLuxe Three-Tongues’ award.
There’s even a floor show during dinner!
Salathip Restaurant, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok.
89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500, Thailand.
Telephone: +66 (2) 236 7777
Salathip Restaurant Website
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelog ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).