March 3, 2016 / 1 Comment
Bo.Lan – interesting name you might think, but it hails from a combination of the nicknames of the owners – it is the restaurant home of television chefs Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Dylan ‘Lan’ Jones, an Aussie/Thai power team.
I’ll admit it, we booked Bo.Lan as it was ranked No. 37 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015. According to their Asia’s 50 Best dossier, the pair met in London at David Thompson’s Nahm. A pretty good pedigree you might say. Post dining, we saw it had surprisingly all but disappeared from the list in 2016. Is it still worth a visit? A resounding yes.
In a nutshell, Bo.Lan, for non-Thai residents, gives you a peak into intense, herbaceous, floral Thai flavours you probably won’t encounter outside the home country of this fantastic Asian cuisine. We visited at lunch due to a rather packed dining schedule, and due to the time of day were seated in an airy, light filled section of the large restaurant that once was a private abode. It was eerily quiet, with a local crowd preferring to dine in near silence, mostly addressing their phones while dining instead of their lunch date cohorts. The background soundtrack of western hits sung in Thai was also interesting! The adjoining rooms that are used for dinner give a much more cosy, dark atmosphere – so I’d advise you book for dinner if you want the full experience, though they do a fantastic five course lunch set menu for only 980 baht plus the requisite 17% taxes.
The service was attentive and helpful, and they were more than accommodating with my tricky allergies. They created us a wonderful bespoke journey of flavours that were certainly more hit than miss. Our amuse bouche kicked things off in splendid fashion – a single bite wolfed down from a porcelain spoon that more than pleased our hungry tastebuds. I could have eaten an entire bowl of the delicate lemongrass infused salad.
On to the drinks – the cocktails were adventurous but didn’t make us want to go for seconds – however the local Thai wines on offer here (we had the Chenin Blanc) are a great bet and even better value. They are a good match for the food on offer and won’t break the bank – I recommend giving them a go.
Now for the main event – everything arrives at once which I understand is local custom, but a little surprising to us being used to multi course tasting menu delivery. I think in all honesty we would have liked to discover the courses one by one, but hey, when in Rome!
Among the hits was the spicy beef, egg and oyster mushroom dish, adorned with a crispy almost transparent green leaf. Yum. A creamy chicken peanut concoction also ticked all the tastebud boxes. An interesting use of lotus root as the focus of another beautiful small dish was also a winner – loved seeing it used in place of a protein, something I hadn’t encountered before. A beef curry ventured too far to the funky, fermented side of things for me, but my dining partner dug into it heartily. Similarly a herbaceous mint and chicken soup was nice, but didn’t do it for me. A lovely soy/chili/coriander sauce was also served if you wanted to mix things up a bit. Some dishes were crazy hot for our Euro palates, but a plate of cooling fruits and vegetables was also served to ease the heat – and was well needed relief. Pretty darn tasty on the whole – though plenty of rice was consumed to balance the intensity of the dishes on offer!
Our dessert was an ethereal palm seed creation, something that was entirely new to me (another option of fresh fruit was available if you’re not feeling adventurous). It was gelatinous, slightly firm to the bite and sweet in taste, we were told this is characteristic of young palm seed – it can get a bit tough as it ages apparently. Asian desserts rarely float my boat but this one was a pleasure.
All in all Bo.Lan is one to checkout to experience a depth of Thai flavour combinations you may not have tried before, in a quaint setting (oh, and the bathrooms are lovely) with welcoming service. Definitely one to visit on your Bangkok travels.