Chakrabongse Villas, one of Bangkok’s finest boutique hotels, offers hotel guests and visitors alike a beautiful riverfront spot to dine on Traditional Royal Thai cuisine.
Thai cuisine is one of the world’s most delicious and beautiful and you will eat well in Bangkok whether you stand at a street stall with a chicken satay, sit in a plastic chair on the street with a bowl of soup, or dine at one of Bangkok’s many fine restaurants. But the restaurant at Chakrabongse Villas offers hotel guests and visitors a beautiful setting that can’t be beat and sumptuously fresh and delicious Thai dishes.
Dining at the restaurant, by reservation only with a prix fix menu, offers guests the opportunity to sit right alongside the river. The rich woods, tile roof, glassed-in sliding doors that open to the elements (or close during the rains), and tiled wrap-around terrace offer rich ambiance. On the perimeter of the dining room, teak sofas with silk throw pillows and a flexible seating work for private dining or cocktail parties.
Outside, Chef Worawat Thonglor, also known as Chef Wat, creates his daily menu in an open-air, stainless steel kitchen right off the hotel courtyard. Chef Wat worked at large five-star hotels in Bangkok, but he appreciates the freedom afforded by a small hotel restaurant that understands his standards for high quality. Here, he is able to create a daily menu based on what is fresh each day at the vegetable and meat and fish markets.
Fresh, Rich Flavors
An array of dishes is brought to the table and each is a feast to look at as well as taste. My meal begins with a bowl of prawn tom yum soup, the seafood broth flavorful and fresh with red chili, cilantro, green onions, lime, and extra-large, extra-fresh prawns.
Then there’s rice flavored with a tamarind sauce, served beautifully with a decorative banana leaf cone and phuang malai, a Thai fresh flower garland. Green curry with chicken is a Thai staple, and Chef Wat’s is delicious. It includes red pepper, baby corn and plenty of Thai basil and green peppercorns. He uses two types of eggplant; the small green globe Thai eggplant I often cook with at home, and a type new to me; the small, bitter, pearl, or pea, aubergine. I love the bitter bite of this vegetable and make a point of enjoying it throughout my trip.
There are also sea bass fillets with Thai herbs. Sea bass is a wonderful fish and the fresh flavors show well in this lightly battered and quickly fried dish. Stir-fried vegetables, including broccoli, onions and mushrooms, are lightly seasoned with oyster sauce, and retain the right crispness.
Another dish that becomes my favorite on this trip is a salad of pomelo, a type of citrus resembling a large, green grapefruit. The salad includes pomelo, red pepper, shallots, fresh basil, cilantro, peanuts, shredded coconut, and chili, all dressed with lime juice and nam pla (fish sauce).
I like my Thai food very spicy, but I don’t make a point of stressing that for this meal, preferring to let Chef prepare it to his preference. It’s the right decision and the Chef’s preparations satisfy my need for heat.
For dessert, there’s cool and refreshing coconut ice cream with fresh mango and a fruit plate of mango, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, grapes, pomelo, and guava. Wonderful!
The Hotel Cookbook: A Treasured Souvenir
Chef Wat and hotel owner Narisa Chakrabongse recently co-authored Riverside Recipes: Thai Cooking at Chakrabongse Villas. The book is published by River Books, Ms. Chakrabongse’s publishing house, which publishes a line of high quality books dedicated to Southeast Asia, including its wonderful foods. The book’s gorgeous photographs are by Paisarn Piammettawat and the 68 recipes included will have you wanting Thai food every night.
In addition to offering guests sumptuous accommodations and delicious food, Chakrabongse Villas caters and hosts weddings, corporate events, dinners, lunches and other events. The riverside terrace can accommodate up to 120 people, and guests will marvel at one of the best views in Bangkok.
Delicious food, tropical gardens, including a glass sculpture by artist Danny Lane, lush walkways and riverfront decks make a perfect setting. For weddings, hotel staff can arrange a traditional Thai wedding, including a Khan Maak procession and a Water Pouring ceremony. I can’t imagine a more romantic spot for a wedding—or a honeymoon afterwards. — Story and photos by Nancy Zaffaro, RFT NW Wine, Brews, & Spirits Editor
IF YOU GO…VISIT:
Chakrabongse Villas, www.chakrabongsevillas.com
Chakrabongse Dining, www.chakrabongsedining.com
River Books, www.riverbooksbk.com