ohhappybear

mostly about food

New Culinary World at Shangri La Bangkok

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Suiting up for the new kitchen

Chefs are always pretty much crazy about their kitchen. After all, it is where they work, perform, and many times rush to complete their jobs at the nick of time. Most of all, many chefs dream up new mouthwatering dishes in their trusted kitchen. It is the room where raw materials are turned into something we all enjoy, many very creative and reflecting the best of the day’s freshest ingredients.

Automatic fruit and veg cleaning bin

Recently, I was a guest to explore Shangri La Hotel, Bangkok’s new US$1.5-million kitchen with a small group of food writers and editors. This is the first time since the completion of the renovation that there’s a press tour and it is combined into the hotel’s new culinary offer – the Chef’s Table – as the tasty finale of the day. We first needed to suit up with hygienic white coat and hairnet before entering the kitchen area. This is where all the fresh food comes in and the first big step is cleaning them all. Pictured above is their new fruit and vegetable automatic cleaning bin.

The cold kitchen

Shangri La’s new main kitchen has seven sections – all joined into a network with a cool room and other cooking facilities such as cold kitchen area (seen above), butcher and fish rooms, smokers, blast chillers, stock pot areas and main halls where accessories such as ice sculptures are made and assembled. All rooms are temperatures-controlled and the floors are all anti-slip tiles. The day we were there, there was a nice stream of Thai classical music in one room and a live guitar the next just to sooth the mood, too.

Lobster in XO sauce by Chinese chef Jacky Chan
The hotel has prepared many food for all of us to nibble along the way. At the Chinese kitchen area, chef Jacky Chan was cooking up lobster in XO sauce and distributed to everybody. This lobster was so fresh it bounced in my mouth. It was the best lobster experience I ever had in years and I still dream about it days later. There were also various canape, assorted sushi and freshly shucked oysters served with lemon and limes. Executive chef Frank Bohdan told me that he mans about 190-people team in this main and all outlet kitchens throughout the property. Shangri La Hotel Bangkok has nine restaurants and bars, 802 guestrooms and does catering to 20 of its function rooms everyday. 
Our dinner table at the Tea Lounge
At the end of the kitchen tour, we were led to the brand new “Tea Lounge” a nice new area complete with a large beautiful dining table and a show kitchen. Here is where guests who would like to repeat our experience of touring the hotel’s latest delicacy addition will dine the special set menu of Chef’s Table. This suits a small business function or private party. The dinner was intimate and exclusive and still comfortable and relaxing and luxurious in this new glittering setting.
First course of seared queen scallop and pekking duck skin
Chef Bohdan spent many years in Asia, especially in China, and those years were reflected into his food. Our first dish, seared queen scallop with ginger and carrot puree, was crowned with crispy and aromatic Pekking duck skin and mandarin jus. Paired with Reisling, Mort’s Block, Kilikanoon Clare Valley, Australia, 2007, the dish stirred up the conversation at the table. Separately, each ingredient tasted wonderfully on its own. But when combined, although not outlandish, it created a new unfamiliar experience of Asian and Western dish. Some liked it, some skeptical. For me, I liked the daring combination the chef put together. 
Second course of creamy mushroom soup
The second dish was this soup of mushroom, leek and zucchini bisque with white truffle oil and zucchini flower. The creamy and rich soup still contained a bit of the Chinese resemblance, for the chef put julienned leek into the soup body and that, for me, is a very Chinese thing to do. Plus the leek’s distinct fragrance made this creamy soup both interesting and delicious. The wine was Chardonney, L’Altro, Pio Casare, DOC Piedmont, Italy, 2010.
Chef Bohdan was getting the lamb ready for everyone
Then it was the time of the main dish which was house-smoked grilled lamb rack with charred asparagus, red vegetable puree, lamb jus and grilled fig. Chef Bohdan was getting the dish ready above and below was mine. Beside him on the right was Executive Sous Chef Sa-Nga Somsri who was the right-hand man for Chef Bohdan. Chef Sa-Nga has been with Shangri La Hotel Bangkok since the first day of the property.
House-smoked and grilled lamb rack
This lamb was smoked in the hotel’s brand new smoker, then pan-grilled and slow-roasted to finish in the oven. The tender lamb meat went incredibly well with the accompanied sweet sauce and grilled fig. There is no Asian influence whatsoever in this dish, except, if you will, the beautiful blue butterfly pea flower that was used to give the meat a nice colourful touch. The wine for this dish was Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre, The Medley, Kilikanoon, Clare Valley, Australia, 2005.
Chocolate martini sets tone for the dessert
You might think that it is quite unconventional for a Chef’s Table to be serving only a 3-course meal instead of the usual ‘degustation menu’ of about 8 to 9 dishes, punctuated with a cleansing sorbet before the climax main course. But the desserts at Shangri La’s Chef’s Table here must make half the degustation journey for first we were served with this velvety rich chocolate martini (above). And then, the red velvet chocolate bar with orchid art (below).
Wonderful red velvet chocolate bar with orchid art
It was clear that the Executive Pastry Chef Frank Braun put his best in all the desserts. The martini was so refreshing it revived the conversation on the table once again. Then, when he presented his desserts above, everyone was impressed by his efforts to hand draw each and every orchid himself. But that was not all, because Mr. Braun, a man known for his chocolate creations, had a surprise!
Chocolate in pink lipstick
Here was my pink lipstick – all chocolate – so cute.
And more creations by Chef Braun
And here’s the tote bag. We thought it was inspired by a Chanel for sure. ^^
For more information about this culinary tour and Chef’s Table at Shangri La Hotel, Bangkok, call T: 02-236-7777 or visit http://www.shangri-la.com/bangkok.
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Author: ohhappybear

Publicist and Writer

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