There’s amazing food to be found (and eaten) just about anywhere in Bangkok, but the best restaurants in the city – and, in fact, Asia – seems to be clustered around the Thai capital’s business district. Gaggan, recently named Asia’s best restaurant at the San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, is on a quiet lane off Langsuan Road; Eat Me Restaurant off Convent Road is a 10-minute-drive away from Lumpini; The House on Sathorn is right next to W Bangkok; and then, there’s the ever-buzzing Nahm at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok.
Nahm is one of those restaurants where foodies go with a certain level of expectation. The original – or rather, the first – Nahm in London was the first Thai restaurant to win a Michelin star. The Bangkok outpost has consistently ranked in the top 10 restaurants in Asia and top 50 in the world, in the San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna list. In 2017, nahm took the fifth spot. Unsuprisingly, diners may have to book a month ahead for a table during peak times.
We popped into nahm at midday on a Friday afternoon, and was seated at the back of the busy main dining hall – which was quieter. Befitting of its acclaim, the interior classy without being too polished – the décor is clean Scandinavian with a touch of Thai antiquity coming from the rusty-red brick-stepped columns, which are inspired by Ayutthaya temples.
The lunch menu has some 20-odd dishes to choose from, but we weren’t capable of making intelligent choices after a mind-melting rub-down at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape upstairs. So we went for the curated set menu (1,600 THB per person), consisting of a handful of canapes, another handful of mains and two tasting portions of desserts.
Standout, downright enjoyable dishes includes the signature sweet-savoury ma hor (minced pork, chicken and prawns simmered with palm sugar, deep-fried shallots, garlic and peanuts served on a pineapple), egg nets with prawns, wild almonds and kaffir lime, pork and lobster with shredded ginger and Thai citron, the chicken curry, and stir-fried cured pork with tomato and fiddlehead ferns. We also like how the first dessert – a savoury-sweet and refreshing concoction of fruit in scented syrup – transitioned our palate from strong-spicy to a sweet ending with poached persimmon and golden duck egg noodles sandwiched in Thai wafers.
Nahm is all about traditional Thai cuisine here, but there’s no pad Thai or green curry on the menu. What you get are plates after plates of big, bold flavours, taken from the streets of Bangkok and centuries-old Thai cookbooks. David Thompson, we heard, has a collection of some 500 books of Thai recipes, so even locals may find it hard to pin down what they’ve just put in their mouths.
That’s the beauty of Nahm – I think – and why the restaurant manages to pack in crowds year after year – it presents tastes that familiar yet foreign. There are curries, tom yum and Thai-style salads, but they’re not quite the kind you’re used to. Some say the food isn’t authentic, as did some Thai food enthusiasts and critics, but, to my mind, Nahm is perfect for well-heeled diners who appreciates aesthetics and fancy, riotous Thai fare that fires up tastebuds.
Nahm, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120, Thailand, +66 2625 3333, [email protected].