“Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin” – Bit of a strange name but definitely a restaurant to add to the list of anyone visiting Bangkok. Translated it simply means “Lotus Pond” and ” Come and eat ” .It certainly isn`t traditional Thai cuisine the likes of what you would eat in most of Thailands restaurants but it`s right up there with Asias best high end places and i just had to go and try it out for lunch recently. Sra Bua is the restaurant situated within the Kempinsky hotel just behind Bangkoks premier shopping mall Siam Paragon. It`s easy to get there by Skytrain or `Taxi meter` and then walk for 5 minutes.
The restaurant itself is a stunning designer creation showcasing fountains ,water features and Lily pools , everything you would expect from an Asian restaurant of this quality ( No 29 in Asia ).
The cuisine is Thai / European magically twisted into something unique by Norwegian chef Henrik Yde Andersen. Modern cutting edge twists on Thai classics are created here and a perfect example of this would be the house signature dish of Red curry frozen with Liquid Nitro, served with a Lobster and Lychee salad…see what i mean .? Oh and incidentally it also works very well.
Sra Bua offer a tasting menu at 1800 baht ( £38 ) for 7 courses and 2400 baht ( £50 ) for 10 courses.They also offer their dishes a la carte which are reasonably priced. The prices overall are on the expensive side for Bangkok but there again , it`s one of the worlds best restaurants , you`re on holiday, and its cheaper than London.
Menus come as standard and for the first time ever , they`re accompanied by an ipad. All of the dishes are individually illustrated on this modern piece of technology .The history of each dish , photos of what it`s going to look like, the cooking process and the ingredients used. I really was impressed by this little treat and it served as a really handy way for me to choose the exact dish i wanted. I love my food to look amazing so the ipad photos enabled me to hit the exact choice and please me no end.
I chose to eat a la carte so picked out a couple of starters , a main and a dessert. The nibbles were thrown in as standard.
Prawn Cracker with Chilli Tomato Dip
Sra Bua Chefs signature dish – Frozen Red Curry with Lobster and Lychees.(550 baht)(£11.60)
A close up of the shredded fresh Lime leaves and foam encasing the frozen Red curry.
Don’t ask what`s in the red curry mixture , all I know is how good it tasted.
Seared Foie Gras with Tamarind and Plum wine (550 baht) (£11.60)
Grilled Chicken with Papaya salad ( Som Tam ) and Buttered Nam Jim. ( 790 baht )(£16.60)
Slow cooked flat iron Beef with Aubergine,Leeks and Oyster sauce( 890 baht )(£18.75)
5 kinds of spices as dessert ( 450 baht ) (£9.50 )
I was going to do Coffee but at 325 baht (£6.85) “In Thailand” I seen a little bit of sense .I can`t recall paying that for a Coffee anywhere I`ve ever been in the world.
.I would go back to Sra Bua and next time i`ll try the 10 course tasting menu. On the whole though , no complaints at all and they`re definitely on the right road to success.
Meanwhile, in another part of Bangkok city there`s a restaurant at the total opposite end of the scale. Raan Jay Fai is a one chef operation serving a very limited menu in a very dull and totally no frills restaurant. I`ve wanted to eat here for a while but questioned myself `is it worth sitting in a taxi for 45 minutes in the sticky Bangkok heat to get there` ?….. Ohh you better believe it is. Restaurant Raan jay Fai is `Triple` the price of most of the citys street restaurants and they charge those prices because they can.They know they`ll be filling the restaurant every night. People head here from all over the world just to eat Chefs legendary dishes. You dont book , you just turn up around 3/4 pm before the place starts filling up with `suits`. I left the comforts of my hotel in an area totally heaving with bars, street food and amazing restaurants. I travelled 45 minutes in a taxi ( 150 baht / £3 ) on my own to the other side of Bangkok…..just to eat a bowl of noodles. I could have eaten this dish in every restaurant in Bangkok , its a Thai staple – “Pad Kee Mao” ( Drunken Noodles ). I simply had to try the best of the best cooked by a Thai lady chef pushing on well into her 70s.
It seems to me that the secret to this dish lies in the volcanic heat generated in Chefs wok. The heat is then pushed to an even higher temperature with a “knee operated” electric air blower.This intense cooking heat causes instant caramelisation of the sugars within the seafood , chicken or whatever ingredients are used….and as you all know this results in wonderful flavour which can never be recreated at home.
I only ordered the one dish which cost me 380 baht ( £8) . I would have got this for 70 baht (£1.50) anywhere else in the city.Was it worth the effort ? Oh boy you bet it was…and ill do it again next time im there. Raan Jay Fai does some of the very best street restaurant cooking in the whole of Bangkok and just a few metres away you also have Restaurant “Thip Samai” which is reputed to do the best Pad Thai in Bangkok….so simply go and do a double hit and try the best of the best. Restaurant “Thip Samai” only makes one dish…Pad Thai noodles. Chicken (Gai) , Shrimp (Kung) or Seafood (Talay) are the only choices. My favourite part is when they bring the accompaniments .Over here in England we would get Red or Brown sauce. Over there you`ll get Dried Chilli ( Spicy ) , Ground Peanuts ( umami ) , Fish sauce ( Salty ) , Sugar ( sweet ) , Lime ( bitter )…The stunning and unique flavours of Thailand.
Just over the road you have the temples and 1000m away is the Royal palace and the Priceless Emerald Buddha so every excuse in the world to walk it all off and then start again eating somewhere else.
Ok…so directions to get to Raan Jay Fai . Its a bit of a struggle and not a lot of Taxi drivers want to head there simply because of the time spent sitting in Traffic. Two taxis just said no to me and drove off. It`s always best to insist on “Taxi meter” when in Bangkok , then you wont get ripped off. The third taxi just said “No meter , too busy 300 baht ” I flashed 200 baht ( £4 ) and he agreed straight away.
The restaurant is in the Temple district of Old Bangkok , no posh hotels and flash shops here , it`s back to old school. Its not far off Chinatown so just ask for “Maha Chai road near temple” and you`ll get there. The taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers won`t know the restaurant by name.
To view the photos on Flickr , please click HERE