We recently dined at Nahm in Bangkok, selecting the set menu option. Given that the remainder of the food we ate in Thailand was street food (and all delicious, even if we had no idea what we were eating at times), this was our higher-end “spurge” meal. Given that upscale dining versions of intense ethnic cuisines can fall short (including the meals we had in Bangkok the last time we visited 13 years ago), I was a little worried about whether or not we would be squandering our one dinner in Bangkok on some wimpy fusion food. Happily, this did not turn out to be the case. In fact, if anything some of the dishes were eye opening in terms of both unexpected flavor combinations and intensity of taste and flavor. Many dishes were delicious, and the remaining at least cerebrally captivating if not totally hedonistic. We had the following (accompanied by a nice Sancerre):
A selection of canapés – all very tasty and well balanced. Perhaps the best of the bunch is the ma hor, or pineapple topped with pork and peanuts – spicy, sweet, funky, toothsome, crunchy and wow.
Cured ‘hiramasa’ kingfish salad with chilies, lime and mint. Great fresh fish in a very sour, very salty dressing. Extremely pungent, but delicious. The dressing may have overwhelmed the fish just a bit, but it was quite good nonetheless.
Thai vegetable and fruit salad with tamarind, palm sugar and sesame dressing. This salad was served with the curries, and it was an extra course to our set menu. A bit like rojak, it was perfectly balanced and very tasty. A nice foil to some of the stronger tasting dishes it accompanied.
Crab and snake gourd soup with egg, pepper and coriander. The crab flavor in this soup was quite strong. The overall concept was good, but perhaps a bit too “oceanic” to be entirely enjoyable.
Clear soup of roast duck with Thai basil and young coconut. I really like this soup, but my partner thought the duck taste was too strong and found the overall effect strange. I would order it again and he would not. Chacon a son gout….
Salted duck eggs and crab simmered in coconut cream with fresh and pickled vegetables and fried leaves. Again, I thought this dish was both very interesting (lush sand salty egg, vibrant accompaniments) and satisfying, but my partner found it overly salty and a bit strange. The fried leaves (apparently a special for that evening) were crispy delicious.
Guinea fowl curry with shampoo ginger and holy basil. Totally delicious. Full flavored fowl counterbalanced by a rich, herbal and spicy gravy. A double thumbs up!
Smoked fish curry with prawns, chicken livers, cockles, chilies and black pepper. The most “normal” flavor in this dish was the chicken livers. Each bite brought a new extreme of flavor – sour, bitter, hot and fishy/funky. A sensual a delight as the guinea fowl curry was, this curry was more of a study in rapid-fire contrasts. A novel eating experience, but in the end perhaps not hedonistically satisfying. Intellectually satisfying, let’s say.
Stir fried venison with cumin and onions. We got this because we love Sichuan cumin lamb. And although this dish was somewhat different (more subtle cumin flavor, venison versus lamb), it was quite tasty and fulfilled our expectations. The venison in particular was nicely cooked and well complimented by the spicing. A great choice.
Mango and white sticky rice. Yes, it’s mundane. But when it is mango season in Thailand, one orders mangoes or one misses out on one of life’s great taste treats. Fantastic as expected!
We had a second dessert (not on the current online menu) which had coconut ice cream (tasty), a kind of moist orange cake served atop a half tangerine (nice) and filled with whipped jackfruit seeds (kind of odd). Not a total success, but had some successful elements and was interesting overall. Mignardises followed.
I would no doubt go back to Nahm on a subsequent visit to Thailand to try some more of Chef Thompson’s inventive, assertive and delicious food.