Happy childhood memories of big dinners hosted by my grandparents came flooding back when I recently visited Aksorn – the new restaurant opened by acclaimed chef, David Thompson.
Story and Images by Soe Wanida Steve – Luxury Society Asia Team
Back then, my grandmother spent as much time choosing matching plates, cutlery, glasses, water jugs and other dining details, as she did with food selection and preparation.
And it was the small, cute details that made a big, early impression at Aksorn.
We were charmed by the “nam nong” branded water bottles – nam nong is the name for water used by monks during blessing ceremonies. We also loved the “from scratch” spirit embraced by Aksorn – they make their own soy sauce and many other ingredients.
As a plate and cutlery fan, it was great to see the effort made to use vintage plates, bowls, spoons and other pieces of cutlery – some pieces were rare indeed.
But food was the main attraction because David Thompson, and his team aim to revitalize recipes found in rare, hard to find Thai cookbooks. Many of their dishes – like the ones served by my grandparents – are forgotten classics.
The 2,800 baht five-course set menu on the night of our visit, was inspired by Khun Nutchanand (Pao) Osathanand – a renowned food columnist, writer and presenter in Bangkok. Her cookbooks covered recipes from her grandparent’s generation stretching back to the 1950s.
Miang Mhark, prawns and ginger wrapped with coral leaves, and Song – pork, salted fish and duck egg wafers – were the hors d’oeuvres and we loved the tang and smoky flavors of the former, paired with the rich, salty, crispy delicious wafers.
The starter was Ray Rai Nah Pooh, a rice vermicelli dish that delivered quite the flavor punch, especially the luxuriant sauce blending crab, chilies, deep fried shallots, garlic, mung beans and coconut cream.
And mains-wise, Yum Yord Grathin (grathin and ginger salad with chili jam); Kaeng Chud Muu Yang (smoky pork and bamboo broth); Kaeng Kiew Waan (tiger prawns green curry with roasted coconut, Thai basil and chili leaves); Prik Khing Pla Salid (stir fried gourami with pork scratchings and lotus seeds); Plamuek Tomkhem (squid braised in palm sugar, soy, black pepper, and ginger); and Nahmprik Nakombam (a dip/relish made from smoked fish, chilis, and prawns served with fresh vegetables) provided a truly diverse selection.
Indeed, Aksorn’s menu was like a greatest-hits of Thai ingredients and dishes remixed brilliantly. Our personal favorites were the crispy charcoal grilled pork – served in a comforting broth – and the squid in black pepper which was as appealing to look at, as it was to eat.
We also enjoyed the desserts – Mafuang Loykaew (macerated starfruit); Thong Plu (Thai choux) and Grayasart (a crunchy rice cake) with bananas.
Kudos to David Thompson and his chefs for providing a fresh – often brave take – on Thai cuisine. And even though my late grandmother would probably “raise an eyebrow” at some of the combinations of ingredients, and cooking and preparation styles, I’m sure she would love the food, and have nothing but great respect for the flair and craft showcased by Aksorn’s exceptional chefs.