Bo.lan, in particular, has been described as one of Thailand’s first and best fine dining restaurants specialising in Thai cuisine.
I may not use “fine dining” entirely to describe its style of presentation or service (which was sometimes awkward), but the pricing is close to that in comparison.
The best places to get reliable authentic Thai food have always been in the streets, in some old eateries, the hole-in-the walls.
Initially, it was tough for me to find any Thai friend to join me in a meal at Bo.lan. “It’s expensive” and we always ended up somewhere else. I agree this is not your usual kind of dinner place.
Bo.lan is headed by chef owners (and television personalities) Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Dy’lan’ Jones, who met while working at Nahm London.
The couple is set on having a zero carbon footprint restaurant, which includes a vegetable garden, a system to recycle waste, water-filtering, an objective to reduce carbon waste.
Concepts that are rather ‘Western’, but I see more Thai restaurants moving in this positive direction.
The restaurant which has been recently relocated to Sukhumvit Soi 53 near Thong Lor with bigger premises takes on the design on a rustic Thai house, complete with an outdoor garden, old-style furnishing and natural lighting.
Lunch with four dishes and rice is priced at 980 baht (SGD$38.60, USD$27.40) per person, and an ala carte menu is also available (Prices of ala carte indicated below).
Dinner is much more expensive at 2,680++ baht (SGD$105.70) USD$75) for a degustation “Bo.lan Balance” meal. Note that the meals are “course-prohibited”, meaning all the dishes would be served at the same time rather than by courses.
Food wise, the table of us were unexpectedly surprised – that most of the dishes tasted quintessentially Thai, and achieved the intricate balance of sour, sweet, salty and spicy.
The meal felt like a home-cooked Thai meal, where the kitchen has prepared some of the best-kept recipes for its guests.
In a way, food may appear to be ‘too simple’ without the fancifulness, but it all lies in the combination of ingredients.
We generally preferred the set of Salad of Phang Nga Chicken, Wing Bean and Grilled Banana Blossom with Chilli Jam (620 baht ala carte), Coconut Based Soup Sustainable Seafood (320 baht), Stir-fried Prawns with Paddy Oat Leaves (780 baht) and Red Curry of Phang Nga Chicken with Young Jackfruit (860 baht).
The other – Local Fern Salad & Phang Nga Bay prawn and shrimp paste dressing (890 baht), Clear soup with chicken, prawn and young coconut (320 baht), Stir-fried Pork Neck with Andamen Shrimp Paste (520 baht), and Southern-Style Yellow Curry with Pork Rib and Longan Fruit (620 baht), felt milder, needed some kick here and there.
Both curries were the standouts, tasted familiar yet not typical, had depth of flavours every mouthful.
We could imagine that some diners would have preferred the food to be spicier, but there could be a larger dining audience the restaurant would need to cater to.
Online reviews have been divided. One view takes that Bo.lan serve Thai traditional recipes in a fine dining setting, and does it well; The other that it is over-rated, pricey and there is better Thai food elsewhere.
Better Thai food elsewhere? I believe that – street food always rock. But I think Bo.lan seeks what it wants to achieve, and does more than that. Go with an open heart, lunch perhaps (not as pricey) and be pleasantly surprised.
24 Sukhumvit 53 Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Thong Lor BTS Exit 1, walk toward Sukhumvit Soi 53. Turn right into Soi Sukhumvit 53, then walk down about 150 meters. Bo.lan is just on your right hand side. Turn right into the small pathway
Tel: +66 (2) 260 2961
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 2:30pm (Thurs – Sun), Dinner 6pm – 1am, Last order 10:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon