September 1, 2023

Bangkok incognito day 1: 50 (per)cent

Pin It

At or near the top of the list to visit for the Great One on this trip is Sorn (ศรณ์), the fine dining southern Thai restaurant from "Ice" Supaksorn Jongsiri and Chef Yodkwan U-Pumpruk. It is also near the top of the list for Foursheets, so it comes as no surprise that our first dinner takes place at the restaurant where we had our last dinner in Bangkok back in 2019.

It's rush hour on Friday evening, and traffic just isn't moving much along Sukhumvit... so we gave up on our plans for a Grab ride to the restaurant and walk over. After a little more than a half hour, we were all a little sweaty by the time we arrived for dinner. But the Great One was happy, and we had all worked up an appetite.

The menu tonight looked reasonably similar to the one served to me back in 2019, but this time around I asked Ice to tone down the spice levels for me... to about 50% of usual. As their pastes are sauces are made à la minute, Ice said they could accommodate as much as possible. I practically cried from the heat on my last visit, and I certainly wouldn't want to do that again.

Amuse bouche: there's a new one in addition to the two I have previously tasted.

Red guava (ฝรั่งแดง) - with a layer of red guava jelly on top, a thin wafer of crispy squid, and of course a sprinkle of crispy shallots.

Young mangosteen (คุดคัดเตย) : crispy krill / crispy shallot / coconut plum sugar - from Nakhon Si Thammarat (นครศรีธรรมราช) Province. Coated with palm sugar sauce and topped with crispy krill and coconut flakes.

Cashew nut relish (น้ำพริกกากหมู) - cashew nuts, shrimp paste from Ranong (ระนอง) Province, and chili are pounded together, and served on top of a piece of cucumber rubbed with cashew butter and topped with a single cashew nut. This was pretty nice. There was a little heat coming from the relish, but the cucumber was refreshing and balanced it out.

Prelude (โหมโรง)

The beach (จักจั่นทอด ใบเล็บครุฑ) : sand mole crab / ming aralia / seaweed powder - the sand crabs (จักจั่นทอด) come from Mai Khao Beach (หาดไม้ขาว) in Phuket, and were fried with dried scallops, curry paste, and ming aralia (ใบเล็บครุฑ) leaves picked from the restaurant's garden. This was pretty tasty with just a hint of heat. The seaweed powder added some umami but the flavors weren't overpowering.

We were next presented with the ingredients for the next collection of raw seafood, which consists of four parts:

Phuket lobster (กุ้งมังกร 7 สี) - once again we have the 7 colored (or rainbo) lobster from Phuket, which was served raw and came in a big chunk. This was nice and crunchy while still tender. Topped with some pickled watermelon and spicy green sauce which brought a little bit of heat and acidity without killing me.

Sea conch (หอยสังข์) - from Satun (สตูล) Province. Sliced thin and very crunchy, with just a touch of heat.

Cuttlefish (หมึกหอม) - marinated with fermented plum juice and (raw palm sugar?) and it wasn't spicy at all, just a touch of acidity here.

Trevally (พพล่าปลามงพร้าว) - from Surat Thani (สุราษฎร์ธานี) Province. Served with a spicy sauce on top of a petal from a banana flower. This has got a lot more heat with lime juice, and my tongue started to burn here and it lasted a while.

Once again, the ingredients for the next course were presented to us, featuring a big ass prawn:

Jorang (จอแหร้ง) : Tapi river prawn / prawn fat / coconut milk and herb / grilled rice cracker - the giant river prawns from Tapi (ตาปี) River in Surat Thani are cooked with coconut milk, Thai garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and garnicia. The abundance of coconut milk and lack of heat helped to put the fire out on my tongue that has been burning since the last bite. Very tasty. The cracker made of rice from Krabi (กระบี่) was very crunchy.

Torch ginger sorbet (ดาหลา) - I love the fragrance of these flowers, which reminded me of both myoga (茗荷) and white ginger lily (野薑花). Foursheets hated this as she thinks it tastes like soap.

Gems on crab stick (กรรชูเปียง) : live blue crab / mud crab roe / yellow chili paste - AH YES! The signature dish that made me cry on my last visit. The blue (swimmer?) crab from Surat Thani was first steamed then grilled over charcoal. The meat was coated with yellow chili paste before the roe from mud crabs was added. Even though they toned down the heat level for me and it didn't taste as spicy as last time, this still induced hiccups for me after just one bite.

The ingredients for the coconut soup that came immediately after, which was made without water but with coconut water and coconut milk, along with melinjo (ผักเหมียง) leaves, dried shrimp, dried squid, coconut flesh, and sundried scallop oil.

Coconut (มะพร้าว) : all good things from coconut / Southern plants / dried squid and shrimp - this coconut soup is always served immediately after the spicy crab, as it helps to temper the heat. Nice and tasty with lots of umami. Definitely put out the fire on my tongue, eventually...

Vegetables (พื่ชพรรณผัก ใต้)

The sea holds the forest (ข้าวยำ) : southern herb / turmeric rice / fermented anchovy dressing - of course this signature dish would be on the menu. With green mango, cucumber, torch ginger flower, bean sprouts, long beans, pink pomelo, winged beans, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves. Together with crispy turmeric rice in the middle, and dried coconut, dried shrimp, and chili.

The whole lot is then mixed with budu (บูดู), a sauce made by fermenting anchovies from Pattani (ปัตตานี) Province along with palm sugar and other goodies.

Khao yam is always nice, and their version here is certainly very refined. Love how finely shredded some of the ingredients are, and the each mouthful is an enticing symphony of flavors and fragrances.

Roti (โรตีแกงเนื้อ) : southern beef curry - the Indian-style roti looked very tasty.

The old southern dairy cow is cooked in a curry whose style was a precursor to massaman curry (แกงมัสมั่น) which is more intense and spicy. It gets simmered in coconut water for a long time so that the beef is tenderized. The pomelo relish came with jellyfish and, of course, chili.

The combination was really, really delicious. The curry was nice and sweet with a little heat; the beef was very soft and not at all overcooked; and the crispy roti worked perfectly together with everything else. Oh, I took this down in one bite... and what an incredibly satisfying bite it was!

The rice (ข้าว เล่าทสักแห่งอาหารไทย)

Southern jasmine rice (ข้าวหอมราชินี) : cooked by charcoal in clay pot / Ranong mineral water - I'm guessing they are still using the rice from Krabi that was fertilized using shrimp shells. When the rice comes, we know that the series of main courses will come in quick succession. But first...

Condiments (เครื่องเคืยงพื้นบ้าน) - an array just like last time, but we are also instructed to pair some of the condiments with vegetables and herbs served on the side of the condiments...

Fermented soybean coconut milk dip (หลนเต์าเจี้ยว) - taken with mango ginger, a.k.a. white turmeric, which really does taste like unripe green mango. This was meant to be taken first so that the palate if cleansed after the beef curry we just had.

Chili paste (น้ำพริกกะปิ) - this tasted kinda like sambal.

Dried stingray (ปลาวง) - this is always tasty. What's not to like about crunchy fish? This was paired with some rice, the chili shrimp paste, and pickled wild spider flower.

Sweet pork (หมูหวาน) -

Fish sauce and chili (พริกน้ำปลา) -

Main course (กินอย่างไทย), "the Southern Classics" with vegetable pairings - this used to be called "the Thai way of sharing", and I used to get annoyed at the way several dishes get served at the same time and gets cold quickly. Thankfully tonight the dishes came one at a time, which I prefer, even though it's not the "Thai way" of dining.

String bean (ผัดถั่วปลาดุก) : charcoal grilled string bean / salted cat fish / pork rind - one would expect this to be tasty with all that fried pork lard, but I was surprised by how good the salted cat fish was.

Southern green curry (แกงเขียวหวานพริกแกงใต้) : charcoal grilled chicken wing / chicken blood
- the green curry came with boneless chicken wings stuffed with herbs, chunks of winter melon, and cubes of chicken blood.

It was suggested we taste the Brazilian pepper tree (มะตูมซาอุ) leaves, which were very fragrant and reminded me somehow of rambutan and green mango.

Nakhon Si Thammarat temple fair (สะตองานวัด) : tiger prawn / stinky bean / pickled garlic / cashew nut / bird's eye chili - the prawns were stir-fried with the other ingredients. My portion did not come with the deadly chilis on top of the prawn. The little baby radishes were nice and crunchy, and that mashed garlic sure was tasty!

The suggested condiment for this course was the red corn.

We were given small spoons to scoop the goodies out from the prawn head, and I added it to a little bit of rice. So, so happy.

We were served an extra course consisting of two parts. We've got rice cooked with the crab...

...and also a crab curry.

The combination of the two was very, very nice... as one would expect! Guess who was a happy camper? But we were very full by now, and couldn't take much of the rice.

Bamboo shoot (แกงจืดหน่อไม้ไผ่ตง) : clear soup - the bamboo shoots came from Surat Thani, and the soup was made with dried shrimp, dried scallops, and moonshine. Wonderful umami, with perhaps a little ginger?

Sweets (ของหวาน) - my favorite part of the meal from my first visit.

Here we have the ingredients of our dessert, including a big ass hunk of sago tree trunk.

Sago boiled in young coconut water (สาคูเปียก ลำไย) : longan ice / longan jam / frozen coconut milk / grilled coconut - the longan sorbet was made without the addition of sugar, and it so clean, so light, and so pure. The longan jam had more depth on the palate and was more savory. The chunks of grilled coconut on the side were a little savory and milky, while the coconut snow was also savory. Four years ago, I thought this dessert was "FUCKING GOOD", and I have no reason to change my verdict today.

The torpedo watermelon comes from Phang Nga (พังงา) Province.

Seasonal canned fruit (ผลไม้กระป๋อง) - we have a chunk of watermelon infused with its own juice (for 3 hours, just like before?), watermelon sorbet, and watermelon agar. I wondered whether the sorbet came with a little plum powder, as I tasted a little acidity along with some savory notes.

Petit four (นพเก้า, ชา, โกปี๊) - southern style tea or coffee. There was a big selection of sweet bites but I had no room for them.

Tea (ชา) - I decided to have some tea.

Khanom khai (ขนมไข่) - classic cake made with egg. This was cooked over charcoal.

We were told it is customary to dipped it in tea, so I did what I was told.

Khanom khrok (ขนมครก) - coconut water is used in lieu of water while making this.

This was made of dessicated coconut, and naturally very tasty.

Herbal tea - Foursheets can attest to the fact that this did not have any caffeine.

We were also served a few wines with our meal:

2020 La Grange Tiphaine Les Grenouillères - nose showing a little tropical fruit, honey, perhaps not quite pineapple, definitely mineral and flinty. A little sweet-ish on the palate. Nice and pleasant to drink, and works well with spicy food.

1997 François Gaunoux Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens - first whiff there was more prominent notes of leather on the nose, then came some black cherries. Not the very floral or fruity kind of wine, but still pretty nice.

1987 Yquem, en demi-bouteille - showing plenty of marmalade and dates, and a little savory on the nose. Almost a little like salted plum, plus definitely got that aged tangerine peel feeling. Some acetone on the nose, too.

This was A TON of food for dinner, and I'm really glad our late lunch was relatively light. I was much, much happier tonight compared to 4 years ago, since not only was I not stuffed and drunk before arriving at the restaurant, but the reduced spiciness level meant I could actually taste the food much better. Very, very grateful to be able to come for a return visit.

Imagine our surprise when we asked for the bill, for us to be told that some arrangements had been made to take care of our bill. We really wanted to do the right thing and pay our fair share, but Ice insisted that a friend had taken care of it. Very grateful for the kindness of friends.

P.S. I'm still not sure Ice knows my name, although he did recognize me when I walked in tonight... having seen me a few months ago. I'm not likely to forget our little encounter in Fukuoka, and I'll probably laugh about the memory of that incident for years to come.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map