Bangkok, June 2018 – Our first reaction at Bo.Lan was hesitation, then came confusion and finally intrigue. Mr. King and I have been travelling to Thailand for nearly two decades, and we have never tasted Thai cuisine quite like this. It made us questioned whether what we know as real Thai food was after all not so authentic.
Bo.Lan is the world-renowned Thai fine dining phenomena that has been on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant list for several years now (currently #19). This exceptional restaurant was also garnered with 1 Michelin Star in the inaugural Bangkok Michelin guide (2018); however, please bear in mind that no restaurant was given 3 Michelin stars, and sadly, none of the Thai restaurants received 2 stars. Personally, I find myself disagreeing with the Michelin guide more often in recent years, especially for their guides on Asia.
We had the pleasure of meeting the husband and wife team -Chef Dylan Jones and Chef Bo Songvisava – the duo behind this phenomenal Thai restaurant. Their principles were to use all Thai ingredients, all organic produce and everything (down to the curry paste) are made from scratch.
The rustic, wooden bungalow in which Bo.Lan is housed, is located in a residential neighbourhood in the midst of bustling Bangkok. After getting a cocktail, the maître d’ invited us into the kitchen for our first bite. In the kitchen, Chef Dylan offered us pineapples, palm sugar with coconut rice. A pretty unusual combination…and an interesting way to tease the appetite.
Bo.lan Feast (Thai Baht 3,280) featured a 12-course dinner. It certainly was an adventurous journey for the senses and the mind.
Pre dinner – we were instructed to follow this order. First, drink, then eat sour mango, tamarind, kamguat and finally spray pandan juice on your tongue. The mixture of salty, sour and sweet flavours really intensified all the taste buds.
Bo.lan Amuse Bouche I – Lychee with stuffed pork / Lobster rice with beef jerky / Rambutan with pork – this dish showcased the gorgeous fruits of Thailand. Each amuse bouche was spicy or sour and then balanced out by sweetness.
Bo.lan Amuse Bouche II -Pork shrimps on crispy wafer / Beef and mango / Taro Pastry – another beautifully plated amuse bouche had lots of quintessentially traditional Thai flavours (shallots, chilli) and was super spicy.
Vermicelli in peanut sauce, fish cake – on the feast menu, this was listed as an accompaniment of the day.
Stir-fried Chicken Inspired by 1960s Politics – tasted like Pad Thai (a very popular Thai stir fried noodles) because of the sauce.
Relish of Grilled Pineapple Fermented Rice served with assorted vegetables – this was actually one of the most memorable dishes. Look at the intricacy of the layout of the gorgeous coconut with shallots, radish and edible flowers.
Salad of Smoked Pattani Mackerel with green mango & cashew nuts – had a slightly char taste to the fish and was mildly sour that was balanced out by sweetness of mangoes.
Southern Style Fisherman’s Soup of Assorted Andaman Seafood – the soup was super spicy, but Mr. King loved it.
“Tai Po” Red Curry of Pork and Morning Glory and Kaffir Lime with salted fish – The crispy texture was not compromised despite the pork being submerged in the curry gravy.
Pre dessert – Than long (color noodles that is very common in Thai street foods) was served with fruits, crushed ice, in a coconut based brown sugar syrup.
Mango pumpkin sticky rice / Agaga -Thai jelly / Sesame dumpling with coconut sauce – the sesame dessert was a standout amongst the three. Overall, we preferred their savoury dishes over their desserts.
While we were savouring our petit fours, Mr. King and I had the opportunity to speak to Chef Bo. She talked about the use of fruits in their cooking, but the difficulty in sourcing fruits due to their seasonality and in predicting supply. She was very keen to express her desire to share the essence of true Thai cuisine and her respect for artisan producers and Thai ingredients.
Preparations were laborious processes of cutting, dicing, slicing, chopping and pounding.Each dish was meticulously prepared with many intricate details. The placement of each herb, flower or garnish was precise and well thought out. Each plate had its individual charm and its own distinct beauty.
Their cuisine was so refine, with extensive work going into each dinner. It was an unique and fascinating dining experience, even when compared to other places with similar accolades. Their intense passion and the efforts behind the amazing creations by Bo.Lan are truly homages to Thailand.
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.