Nahm Bangkok – Thailand’s Best Restaurant Was Good, Not Enough To Wow
[Bangkok, Thailand] Updated: Nahm is ranked Number 8 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016.
Nahm has a midas touch, debuting at World’s 50 Best Restaurant at the 50th position, also named Number 3 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, effectively making it Thailand’s top restaurant.
While how it managed to beat several restaurants ranked above is still a question mark, getting the awards makes it Bangkok’s most watched restaurant.
As if it is already not.
Nahm is helmed by renowned chef David Thompson, an Australian who immersed himself into the Thai culture (who also found a Thai partner is also his dessert chef), scoring the very first Michelin star for a Thai restaurant for his London branch at The Halkin. That has unfortunately closed as he wants to focus more on his Bangkok business.
Most would question – can a ‘foreigner’ cook Thai dishes well? Apparently so for the last 20 years. The reverse is true, we all know of Asians who can cook impressive French or Italian cuisines.
Located at one of my favourite Bangkok hotels at Metropolitan South Sathorn (I actually stayed there three times, so tell the cab drivers “Met-toh Sa-thorn!” because you have to turn in a small lane before reaching the hotel),
Nahm is really a lot more casual that several other fine dining restaurants – quite suitable for group dinners.
The dinner set menu at 2,500 baht (SGD$98, USD$71) per person, is quite unlike usual chef’s degustation menus elsewhere. You can choose from a series of canapés, main courses available in the a la carte menu, followed by dessert.
Portion sizes are determined by the number of people in the group, and main course dishes are served family style, arriving together at the same time.
The Lunch Set is at 1,600 baht (SGD$62, USD$45). [Prices updated 2016]
While the amount is probably considered high for Thailand’s standard, you probably cannot find other restaurants in the Top 50 list at that price point.
There is no signs of the typical Thai style street food, though Chef David Thompson dishes while innovative are said to be authentic, comprising of flavourful curries, fresh stir-fries, steamed dishes and grilled specialities.
For canapés, we had Spicy Pork with Mint, Peanuts and Crunchy Rice on Betel Leaves, and Southern Grilled Mussels. Ask the service staff for recommendations.
One of my personal highlight was the Coconut and Turmeric Curry of Blue Swimmer Crab with Calamansi Limes which managed to carry the many dimensions of taste that Thai cuisine is famous for, yet being able to appeal to a more conventional taste bud without being overly heavy handed.
Another recommended would be the Grilled Pork Cheek, which is good on its own, but has a distinct zest with a complimentary Smoky Tomato Sauce.
I thought that the Deep Fried Cured Carp with Minced Prawn and Pork simmered in Coconut Cream with Young Chillies, Red Shallots and Coriander Fresh Vegetables felt underwhelming subtle and unimpressionable.
As for several of the other dishes, they were not bad, but did not stand out enough in terms of quality or aesthetics. Or perhaps I was not given the best recommendations.
Unfortunately, both desserts – the Pistachio Pudding and Golden Tear Drops with Perfumed Mung Beans, and Sweet Thai Wafer with Poached Persimmons and Golden Duck Egg Noodles – were prettier to look at than good to eat, largely because it felt that there were better Thai-style desserts elsewhere.
When Nahm first opened, critics were divided on how an Australia can present authentic Thai fare in an upmarket restaurant setting.
Chef David Thompson had convinced his naysayers by collecting recipes wholeheartedly from the streets of Thailand, even creating dishes that are said to be truly traditional in taste.
I did feel there was a ‘Wow’ element missing. After all, I am measuring Nahm using the World’s Best 50 yardstick.
Metropolitan Hotel Bangkok, 27 South Sathorn Rd, Tungmahamek, Sathorn
Tel: +662 625 3388
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2pm (Lunch Mon-Fri); 7pm – 10:30pm (Dinner Daily)