Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand

If you’re a foodie, you’ve probably heard of Nahm. Appearing on the World’s 50 Best restaurants as well as the Asia’s 50 Best, it was a must do for us on our trip to Bangkok.

Sadly our booking didn’t seem to make it through the reservation system on the Como website, so we chanced our luck at getting a last minute on the night booking, and were successful to much relief – I was not leaving Bangkok without dining at Nahm! We were seated outside by the pool, and in my mind that’s the prettiest spot to dine in as the interior is not that spectacular (feels like it’s about time for an update) just mind the mosquitos as the night wears on (they do have bug spray on hand though as long as you promise to keep it away from the food)!

I’ll start this off with a disclaimer – due to my allergies (seafood, yay – and we are advised that almost all meat at Nahm is marinated in fish sauce) we were mostly relegated to the vegetarian side of the menu. But that’s not something I usually mind at all, vege only dishes are usually my favourites when fine dining – I’ve even managed to almost convince my meat obsessed husband that that is indeed the case. I love the opportunity to explore meat free dishes on a menu, to me they often seem to be more creative. To my surprise, there actually weren’t many vegetarian options on offer at Nahm (hardly any, to be more precise!), which is a shame as vegetables and Thai flavours are a match made in heaven – sometimes I feel meat can take away from the delicate nuances of Thai dishes. Venturing to the veggie side is a great evaluation of a restaurant for me – with the vast amount of people who prefer not to eat meat and it’s by products, it shouldn’t be an afterthought these days. For vegetarians, the entire soup, salad and relish sections of the menu were out of bounds – that seemed a little extreme to me. Surely it shouldn’t be this dire?

Our first bite, the amuse bouche served on a pineapple wedge, was absolutely delicious and the highlight of the night. I would have ordered more if I could. Our starter that followed was a mushroom salad served on a rice crisp (the only vege option available in the canapé section and not even listed on the menu) and didn’t really hit the mark, with something in the mix being rather soapy tasting. I didn’t even fight my husband for the last portion which is a rarity (why must restaurants serve portions of five for two diners?).

For mains we were once more relegated to slim pickings (again, this is due to my inability to have fish sauce and shrimp paste) – but they were pretty good overall. The Yellow Curry of Cauliflower and Tomatoes with Cucumber Relish was very tasty (loved the relish), but it felt not too far a reach from many I’d had before. It tasted so familiar that it just didn’t reach my lofty expectations with this being one of the top restaurants in the world. We also had the stir-fried Wagyu Beef with Charred Onions and Thai Basil – the flavours were good for sure, but flavours aside – the meat was stringy and chewy. Having had succulent wagyu beef at Asian restaurants previously (Blue Jade at the Ritz Carlton Dubai blew my mind with their Black Pepper Wagyu), this was just not acceptable in my books. How do you ruin Wagyu? It was chewy to the point of almost having to spit the meat out, and who wants to do that at a fine dining restaurant? We chanced upon about two pieces of beef out of the entire dish that were passable. In my books it is not ok for a restaurant of this calibre to serve up meat that was this unpleasant in texture. The Pak Wan Stir Fried with Garlic and Mushrooms was exactly as advertised however and lovely.

Our dessert was ok but didn’t amaze – Pandanus Noodles with Black Sticky Rice Water Chestnuts, Tapioca and Coconut Cream. It arrived with the addition of corn, which just didn’t work in this dish. I found myself dreaming of finer pandan inspired desserts I have experienced (Blue Jade in Dubai, again).

On top of this, the wine we ordered simply did not hold up to the flavours of Thai cuisine, and I would challenge the sommelier as to why it’s on the list at all. It was a Kiwi Pinot Gris which I hate to admit, being a staunch NZ wine advocate, but it was a label I’d never heard of which made me a tad suspicious – I do wonder which vineyard was actually behind it as the export branding was one that you would never see in it’s home country.

Did we have a nice night? Yes, I suppose so, the dishes were pleasant enough – but too many misses for a restaurant so highly regarded. Does it hold up to the accolades if you’re a vegetarian? A resounding no. This is a place for seafood lovers, as almost every single dish on the menu contains a seafood component. If you are a seafood lover, maybe you would fall head over heels for Nahm. For a restaurant of this calibre I would have expected them to step up more on the veggie side – and it was a stark contrast to just how accommodating Bo.Lan (and countless others) were. For us, it was out-classed by it’s other Bangkok compatriots we tried in every instance. Seems this is one that stirs up mixed emotions with fellow diners I speak to – it’s a polarising restaurant indeed…but not one I’ll return to for further investigation.

The Verdict:

Food: 6.5/10
Service: 6/10
Ambience: 5/10
Decor: 5/10
Value: 6/10
Overall Rating: 5.7/10

 

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