Saawaan

Saawaan [sà-wăn] สวรรค์ [ สะ-หฺวัน ] means ‘Heaven’ in Thai, which is the goal of Chef de cuisine and owner Sujira ‘Aom’ Pongmorn to elevate Thai cuisine through different techniques from grilling, steaming, stir-frying and fermentation. Using local ingredients sourced from all over Thailand.

Amuse bouche starts with JOK (congee) consisting of rice puree, grilled pork, and quail egg, deep fried shrimp packed with an explosion of satisfying taste, then cleansed with a twist of “Tang Mo Pla Hang” substituting watermelon with pineapple.

RAW – Ama Ebi/Cucumber/Coconut/Kaffir Lime Oil

Sweet and juicy Ama Ebi are one of my favorite ingredients all around due to their distinct flavor and texture. Normally found in Omakase course which makes it so exciting to try out a twist of Raw Ama Ebi in Thai style appetizer.

Packed with a flavorful soft and sweetness Ama Ebi texture with creamy coconut and spice blended underneath plus herbs on top. A pleasant way to start my Thai twist culinary experience.

DIP – Rice Paddy Crab/Somsaa/Red Curry Paste/Sicky Rice

Presentation wise, an exotic view of rice paddy crab apart from typical street food Som tum style. Rice Paddy Crab are creamy and contains a spark of sweetness which goes perfectly with Aromatic sticky rice. plus they provide extra sticky rice just in case you still craving for more.

STIR – FRIED – Frog/Lesser Ginger/Holy Basil/River Weeds

First of all, hands on presentation of frog on lotus leaf with hydrophobic lotus effect and first time I have seen frog sausage. A twist of spiciness and distinct aroma of Holy Basil leaf and chunk of soft texture. Crispy frog skin are just phenomenal crunch. Frog sausage was a good snacking bite.

FERMENTED – Fermented Noodle/Peanut/Mung bean/Organic Vegetables

This is a part where sour & spicy and sweet tooth persons part ways. The sauce are peanut packed flavor with strong sweetness flavor so if you are a sweet person, this one will probably make your day. I personally like a twist of good fermented noodle and delicious fried veggies.

BOILED – Ranong Barracuda/Snake Fruit/Tumeric/Acacia Leaves

First of all, no that was not pan-seared scallops. If you ever tried Thai yellow curry then you know about their distinct and strong aroma. Adding a sizzling and our snake fruit sourness elevated this dish to a more enjoyable level with tender and fresh Ranong Barracuda texture. Extra point for peeled snake fruit by the way.

MIANG – Chamuang/Thai Kumquat/Riceberry/Young coconut

Flavor explosion in your mouth! Normally, Miang are not even my thing and most newer generation. This one was simple and enjoyable with Thai Kumquat or Somjeed sourness with crispy Riceberry supported by Chamuang hebal aroma and Young coconut sweetness.

CHARCOAL – Nakhon Pathom Quail/Papaya/Prickly-Ash/Sida Tomato

When the staff are preparing a huge pot, your excitement just keep on increasing. Quail are served with sweet sauce which stand as an opposite spectrum to fine sliced papaya on sour with herbal scent.

CURRY – Beef Tongue/ Homemade Massaman Paste/Almond/Grape

A refreshing take on Massaman curry. Just learned that Massaman curry are originated from Persian empire during a spice trade boom. As expected, Massaman curry starts with strong sweetness. Fortunately, there are roti and rice cracker to balance things out.

Somzaa as a palette cleanser. *Extreme sourness explosion*

DESSERT – Chocolate from Chanthaburi/Chumpon/Chiang Mai

Thai cocoa trend have been booming for a while now. It was a good opportunity to taste and compare chocolate from each areas in the same dessert. Choux pastry was definitely enjoyable with a moderate balance sweetness and bitterness. With a brief moment, this whole plate was gone *Poof*

Petit four are comprised of “Khanom Beung “, toddy palm meringue and sweet basil; “Dhara Thong”, made of mango, passion fruit and watermelon seed; “Khanom Krock”, a coconut brulee tart.⁠ All of these little treats are at excellent quality. I could see myself buying these as a gift for a special occasion. I had numerous modern twist of Thai desserts which I am glad to see all of these are going in a not too sweet way yet elevating each ingredients.

100 Mahaseth

Bangkok has reached hot and arid summer season which could be easily cured with a sour and spicy packed flavor of Thai north-eastern (Isaan) cuisine. I already had a reservation at 100 Mahaseth before Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants expected revealed on Thursday, 25th March 2021 from 4.30pm (HK/Sing). Alongside Kyoto’s legendary Soba restaurant since 1465 Honke Owariya, 100 Mahaseth has been nominated as root-to-fruit, nose-to-tail and farm-to-table restaurant with 100 Smile Meals initiative to help farmers and suppliers during the pandemic.

100 Mahaseth are packed around lunchtime, the staff informed me that all guest have an advance booking so make sure to reserve before visiting. The ambiance seems to be rustic and simple with an imitation of Isaan vibe. Overall atmosphere seems to be a bit more relaxed than normal fine dining vibe.

Starting with a complimentary starters, crispy pork rind served with fresh vegetables and herbs. Accompanied with Thai Chimichurri, Jaew (Chili sauce with tamarind juice) and Jeaw Pla-ra with moderate spiciness.

Pineapple and Blood Cockle – A Spicy salad of pineapple and blood cockle with Pla-ra (Thai fermented fish sauce)

Blood cockle are famous for their metallic flavor and excessive blood when cooked which I try to stay away from as far as possible. In this particular case, the presentation was well-executed. Combination of sweet and sourness from pineapple with blood cockle and crunchiness from peanuts does blend together.

Som Tam Kai Yang – Marinated grilled chicken with papaya compressed in a seasoned fermented fish sauce with lime and chili

You think you have seen every form of Som Tam? A break from expected Somtum image we normally found in Thailand. Chicken are juicy and the seasoning does blend well too. I wish it would be stronger in the sour and spicy taste though.

Bone Marrow – Bone marrow roasted and buried in charcoal served with toasted perilla seeds, scallion, palm sugar, lime and lemongrass

Bone marrow have a fatty gelatinous texture which felt like a oily custard. One combination bite with toasted perilla seeds felt like a light herbal yummy treat. For the wow factors, this menu definitely got it and majority of the tables ordered Bone marrow.

Grilled sticky rice patties – Sticky rice from Khonkaen rolled into patties glazed with eggs and grilled

A gorgeous presentation of sticky rice apart from our common sight. Be wary of fermented fish on top though since it was extremely salty.

Grilled Braised Ox Tongue – Served with dry Bittergound relish

A generous portion of Ox tongue with a tender texture. Bittergound would be each individual preference due to their strong bitter flavor. Still a strong recommendation as simple and satisfying pick.

Grilled pork Chitlins (Sai-On Yang)

Simple and odorless with a enjoyable chewiness texture

Green Mango Sorbet – served with Naam Plawaan sugar shards with salt and chili marshmallow

Emulating simple green mango with Thai’s snack Naam Plawaan (Sweet fermented fish sauce). Green Mango Sorbet are balanced in sourness and sweetness supported by solidified Naam Plawaan just gave a new twist. Chili marshmallow resides more on a salty side which I would not mind have a full bag as a snack.

Coconut ice cream – in a brioche bun served with sticky rice and roasted peanuts

Packed with creamy and satisfying coconut milk flavor and shred golden thread which was originated from Portuguese Fios de ovos.

In conclusion, 100 Mahaseth offer a lot of twist to Isaan food which still retains enjoyable original taste. The staff are very friendly and informative yet a little bit overwhelmed with full table capacity though. I could see myself revisit this place again in the future.

What is your favorite Thai restaurant around you areas? Please feel free to share your favorite dishes and story.

Tanabe Sushi

Let’s start this year with some nostalgia as I travel back to my first experience of Michelin star restaurant. The year was 2014 in Sapporo, Japan. I just remembered that Tananbe was awarded 3-star Michelin in 2012 and it was at a peak of hype period. So my thought at that moment was why don’t I try out the highest recommendation from Michelin to see how amazing the experience it would be.

I remember hearing such stories as proper dress code and a bunch of regulations for reservation of Michelin starred restaurant around the world. In case of Tanabe I remember about a request to refrain from strong fragrance like perfume, because they would like guest to enjoy characteristic sushi and the aroma of the cuisine also not disturbing other guest.

Starting from appetizer, Hokkai-shima-ebi “北海縞海老”, it is caught in only Hokkaido. And natural Hokkaido scallop, and one kind of sea weed named Junsai “蓴菜”. Junsai is caught in the clean lake, it is summer seasonal food. Such a refreshing and light to kick start my appetite.

Sashimi : Flatfish [ Hirame ] Fluffy texture with light flavored as such a perfect way to start Sashimi section to reflect a pure flavor.

Octopus [ Tako ] with Japanese vinegar sauce. First of all, forget all chewy Tako in all your life that makes you uncertain whether you are chewing a Tako or a gum. Extremely fresh Tako are just soft and enjoyable. Combining with perfectly balance savory vinegar jelly sauce to crank up my appetite.

Offspring Tuna [ Mejimaguro ] that is special one in only summer season. Majority of cured Tuna are called “Akami” and usually it comes with a strong texture and flavor. Mejimaguro are a lighter version which I found relatively easy to try out for a first timer.

Toasted small sardine [ Tatami-Iwashi ] Apart from eccentric shaped plate, this plate provide a crunchy and yummy treat.

Oyster [ Kaki ] My first impression was that oyster are just grilled to a mouthwatering degree contrasting grilled part yet retaining juicy part inside. Providing strong flavor and soft texture together.

Steamed egg [ Chawan-Mushi ] What I love about Japanese Steamed egg are how bouncy texture and comfort menu appear. Very lightly seasoned with a surprise of hidden sweet and tender crab meat inside.

Tuna [ Maguro/Akami ] Akami means lean part hence resulted in red color. Akami are cured within Shoyu for more balanced taste. Apart from beautifully presentation, this Akami taste are just right with a tender texture.

Shrimp [ Ebi ] Introducing the best shrimp I have ever had in my life up until now. This one changed my perspective that boiled shrimp must be better than raw shrimp. The texture are just divine with an insane amount of sweetness and a bit contrast of fresh Wasabi on top.

Squid [ Ika ] To be honest I have my reservation about chewiness of this squid compared to my past experience. In contrast, it came out as a lot better than expected.

Horse mackerel [ Aji ] also means flavor in Japanese. That is why this Sushi is packed with such intense flavor in a satisfying texture.

Salmon [ Shake ] that is the seasonal one named “Tokishirazu”. Tokishirazu also refers to “Chum Salmon” which are caught within spring to the beginning of summer. Tokishirazu came with a high fat content yet firm texture compared to average Salmon.

Surf clam [ Hokki ] If you ever experienced a Hokki and felt a bit chewier than your preference. This one is much more different than that. The texture are located in a reasonably chewing experience.

Abalone [ Awabi ] with liver sauce. Awabi are quite a tricky experience for handling and properly cooking. Removal of algae and perfecting cooking temperature are quite a challenging task. This one came out a enjoyable texture, fragrant and the sauce are not too overwhelming.

Sea urchin [ Uni ] Generous portion and a light color seems like a promising bite. I would say the flavor are more on creamy light and tender area.

Salmon roe [ Ikura ] Probably my first experience on generous portion of Ikura and it was just as amazing as I expected. Ikura were cured to a balanced flavor.

Conger Eel [ Anago ] Anago are a more fluffy texture compared to Unagi. I understand that keeping tiny fish bone are somewhat charm for eel dishes in Japan so keep that in your mind.

Japanese Rolled Omelette (Tamagoyaki) I would say this Sushi resides in a sweet area rather than savory. Egg texture are delicate as a gateway to dessert.

Creme Brulee was made with Japanese special sugar “wasanbon(和三盆)”. Wasanbon is a fine-grained Japanese sugar, traditionally made in the Shikoku prefectures of Tokushima and Kagawa. The sugar is often used for Japanese sweets (Wagashi). I did finished Creme Brulee in an instant. Delicate texture and balanced sweetness.

Ending this spectacular experience with a pineapple Sherbet. It was good to try out pineapple dessert that was not extremely sour with an enjoyable texture. I would say Tanabe price are reasonable at their decided price. Staff are extremely friendly and helps provide such an insightful information regarding ingredients and cooking method.