A traditional Thai meal contains salad, relish, steam, soup, fried, and curry, all served with freshly steamed white rice. I learned this as I opened the menu at Paste. And so, without a word, I knew where my journey was going to take me.
Talal and I, after much research, made our way to the Ratchaprasong district in Bangkok. Talal didn't know what to expect. His experiences at fine dining restaurants have typically consisted of tiny, over-priced portions of food that left him unsatisfied with the experience. I, on the other hand, was always willing to be transported and had an open mind going into a new restaurant. Keep in mind that I am an avid food/restaurant researcher, so I rarely ever go in clueless.
We were seated in the dimly lit dining room, with a view of the kitchen... always my favorite view. We eagerly looked at the menu, very well knowing that we'd be getting the 8 course tasting menu. After we finished burying our noses in the large menu, we took a look around. The kitchen moved much slower than I expected, despite our early arrival and the still-empty dining room. The mall outside the doors, although very elegant, was nearly deserted. It was serene out here, just as the kitchen was.
We went hungry and began our meal with an aperitif and amuse-bouche that piqued Talal's interest and excited him for the meal ahead. We dined slowly and tried to identify every thing we tasted and saw, much of it was new to us.
Course 1: Watermelon, ground salmon with crispy shallots & roasted galangal powder
Course 2: Roasted duck, nutmeg, curry paste and sawtooth coriander served on a rice cracker
Course 3: Tapioca dumplings of smoked trout, toasted peanuts, pennywort and wild sesame seed
Course 4: Roast duck fillet soup with shitake mushroom, yellow bean sauce, smoked oyster sauce and star gooseberry leaf
Course 5: Live Canadian lobster, kaffir lime juice, mandarin juice, buzz button flowers and crispy local seaweed
Course 6: Stir-fried ocean blue crab, fresh curry powder, organic eggs, spicy chili jam, pickles and chinese celery
Course 7: Panaeng curry of grain-fed black angus beef, toasted peanuts, and thai sweet basil
Course 8: Panna cotta and graham cracker sand terrarium
Sweet Treat: Chocolate and Nut Truffles
My favorite was the tapioca dumpling. It was peppery and warm with a chewy exterior. Talal's favorite course was the panaeng curry; and even though we had started to feel full, he made sure we finished every last bite of curry. We had a full meal with spicy, sweet, smoked, fried, and it was simply perfect.
In Talal's book, fine dining definitely improved it's reputation. His first Michelin meal was as special as mine was. Read about my first Michelin meal here...
Oh, and in case you're wondering... ดาว - Dāw means star in Thai...