March 29, 2023

Not the 50 Best tour day 5: peanuts with Thai food

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I haven't properly caught up with Chubby Hubby for quite a few years. I was supposed to have gone to Singapore to join them for dinner when Mauro Colagreco was in residency for 3 months, but as the "travel bubble" between Hong Kong and Singapore never went into effect, I didn't travel out of Hong Kong until mid-2022. As none of us were joining the 50 Best circus this week, it was a good opportunity for us to meet up and throw some peanuts around. And as far as peanuts go, Gastronaut always has plenty... so I figured we should all get together for dinner.

Restaurant Chedi is a Thai restaurant which has just opened not long ago. While I'm normally not in the habit of visiting restaurants this new, and this wasn't exactly "local", but if this where my friends wanted to go... I happily obliged.

There is a single tasting menu offered, and the four of us sat at the counter so that chef K-Jin Lim could have direct interaction with us.

Miang kham (เมี่ยงคำ) - so nestled inside the betel leaf cone were different elements designed to provide the combination of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter flavors. We've got sugared peanut powder and tamarind for sweetness; bird's eye chili for spicy; lime pulp for acidity while the rind added bitterness; Hokkaido ikura (イクラ) and Rayond dried shrimp for salt... plus many others. Afterwards the liquid in the shot glass underneath is meant to cleanse the palate but delivers a similar combination of flavors.

Nam prik gapi (น้ำพริกกะปิ) - the nam prik (น้ำพริก) shrimp paste was pretty interesting and came with a good amount of heat, although thankfully not too much for me. Salty as expected but also got acidity and the fragrance of kaffir lime. Served with broccolini tempura (天ぷら), baby tiger shrimp tempura, and Japanese cucumber.

Gaeng som fak thong (แกงส้มฟักทอง) - the "Chilean sea bass" was fried so that the exterior was crispy. The "sponge cake" made of dried fish floss was new to me and rather interesting. The rich and grainy squash soup was made with fish stock.

Tom kha gai (ต้มข่าไก่) - an interesting interpretation of the classic soup, where it's been made into a coconut cream with galangal, lemongrass, chili flakes, baby coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds. One is meant to use this as the dip for the chicken wing.

The chicken wing has been de-boned and stuffed with glutinous rice seasoned with pepper and mushroom. There was meant to be foie gras, too, but my pedestrian palate couldn't pick that up. Still pretty tasty, and not any less interesting than the DFC I had a few days ago.

Som tam ruam mit (ส้มตำรวมมิตร) - the addition of pink guava and jackfruit was a nice touch. The small piece of dried mackerel was very nice, but unfortunately there was only one in my bowl.

Nam ya goong mang korn (น้ำยากุ้งมังกร) - the southern Thai yellow curry was more rich with coconut, and the Maine lobster was pretty decent. Crispy rice was meant to mop up the curry, which it did very well.

Kor muu yang (คอหมูย่าง) - now THIS... THIS WAS THE SHIT. Using secreto from ibérico pigs to make the classic Issan dish was perfect, as the cut was well-marbled and tender. There was good sweetness from palm sugar and umami from the marinade. Good smoky flavors from the charring. In fact, I thanked chef K-Jin for serving us a very good char siu (叉燒)! I didn't really need the nam prik noom (น้ำพริกหนุ่ม) but the cherry tomatoes sweet basil salad on the side were pretty nice. I did enjoy dipping the pork in nam jim jaew (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว), though, for the acidity. Probably the best dish of the whole meal.

Khao pad kid terng (ข้าวผัดคิดถึง) - this was an extra that I couldn't resist. Actually, I'd order this just to watch chef K-Jin in action tossing this in a wok. It's quite a spectacle!

This was very good, with good wok hei (鑊氣) that one would expect after watching the chef tossing the wok. The crunchy threadfin that had been cured for 6 months was essential to the dish, the crab meat was OK, but the flying fish roe (とびこ) on top was pretty useless.

Tub tim krob (ทับทิมกรอบ) - my favorite Thai dessert since childhood in a slightly different form. Slurp.

My friend chose a bottle of sake for our meal:

Katsuyama Junmai Daiginjo Sensho Masamune (勝山  純米大吟醸  戦勝政宗) - seimaibuai of 50%. Initially served a little warm, and palate was more dry as a result.

I thought dinner was pretty pleasant and interesting, with new takes on classic dishes we're all familiar with. Given what's happened over the last few days, this was probably one of the two best meals I've had since arriving.

But the best thing about tonight was the peanuts. There was plenty to go around, and thankfully we didn't leave any shells on the floor. Of course it was good to catch up with friends, and I really hope to see them again soon.

HaoKouFu was in town for the 50 Best festivities so we arranged to meet up for drinks. She had originally suggested a hotel bar - no doubt because it was highly-ranked on Asia's 50 Best Bars - but when I suggested a place I had heard about that serves lots of bongwater, she immediately agreed. So Wine RVLT it was. Incidentally, they had opened up an outlet in Taipei just months ago, and we met the dude who is running the show.

It was late and we could only pick one bottle, and I indicated interest for this one given that I had seen a sommelier friend post about it...

2012 Domaine de l'Ecu Taurus - got the acidity, grippy on the palate, and nose was oxidized. Not that interesting.

More peanuts. There are worse ways to end the evening...

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