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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

MUGA Day #9: Bangkok--nahm

Nahm (or nahm) is the only Thailand restaurant on the Pellagrino Best 50 restaurants of the world, coming in at #50.  As I look down the list, I see: 

  -  French Laundry at #43, and there remains a chance I'll dine there when our group golfs in Napa Valley next month.

  -  Narisawa at #27, where I have a reservation when I get to Tokyo.  According to all reports, this the best restaurant in Asia.

  -  Pierre Gagnaire is at #17, but that is the Paris version.  I might go back to PG in Seoul, hoping that Young Leader Kim is only capable of barking.

I asked my concierge what was the appropriate attire for nahm.  He frowned at what he saw of my definition of smart casual, and inquired if I really had a reservation there for lunch today.  I was wearing long pants and real shoes, so I thought I'd be allowed to dine there, and, yes, I had a confirmed reservation.  Both turned out to be unnecessary.  First, at no time did this large restaurant of more than a hundred chairs get half full.  Second, they warmly welcomed a diner with slippers, shorts and a Harvard underwear t-shirt. 

I would not recommend taking the Sky Train, then walking to the restaurant.  A half mile at High Noon in Bangkok when the temperature peaks past 100 F in sweltering humidity is suicidal.  I did this partly because on the way was the Thai Air office, where I wanted to shift my departure a day or two earlier for Tokyo.  Can you believe that I was the only person in first class on Thai coming from Sydney, but there was nothing available in first class on the Airbus 380 to Tokyo for days?  So, I guess I'm "stuck" here for a couple more days.  Not a bad life, actually.

The nahm decor is upscale and service formal for a Thai restaurant.    The Master Chef is David Thompson, who also has a Michelin 1-Star establishment of the same name in London.  There is a tendency to spell the place nahm.

The power behind all this is 54-year old  Christina Ong, who last gave an interview twenty years ago.  While known for fashion, she has become a leading luxury hotel baroness.  Both nahms are in her hotel property, which in Bangkok is the new Metropolitan Hotel, located in the same driveway as the Banyan Tree Hotel, which once was a Westin.  With her Singporean husband, she is listed among the Forbes' billionaires.  Not sure what is happening, but a Metropolitan room for $472 can be had today for $150.

Ah, but this posting is mostly about food.  First came the free appetizer:


Very artsy and tasted okay, although I forgot what it was.  I ordered their set menu and started with a  Monsoon Valley Columbard from Hua Hin Hills (Thailand), which was excellent, and a Granmonte Sakuna Syrah Rose from Khao Yai (Thailand):


From a long list I could select two appetizers and three entrees.  Actually, I had no choice, for all the other dishes included shrimp in some way.  The first plate had southern grilled mussels and spicy pork with mint, peanuts and crunchy rice on betel leaves (you pick it up and eat like a sushi):



I guess this leaf comes from the same plant as the stimulant, betel nut.  I added a Glaetzer Shiraz from Barossa Valley (Australia) to accompany the entrees:


These dishes were hot and sour soup of chicken with straw mushrooms, lemongrass, chili and lime (much too salty and really, really spicy hot, which was then okay with me--but I suffered eight hours later); deep fried grouper; and stir-fried Kurobuta pork with yellow beans and ginger, which was excellent.

I was getting filled, but the dessert was spectacular:


The concoction combined coconut, tapioca, longan, etc.  I normally hardly touch the ending sweets, but this combination was terrific.  They could have done me some good service by serving a half portion.  Note that S. Pellagrino sparkling water, which was symbolic for nahm being #50, but I was disappointed by the $10 charge.  Yet, adding to the meal cost this bottle, wines, tip and taxes, the total bill was less than $100, about what an appetizer would cost at Robuchon's.  A very good value for a superior meal.

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