I must begin by admitting that I'm really lagging behind on this one; Chubby Hubby scooped me by visiting Flava, the brand-new Dream Hotel's funky Thai restaurant, several weeks ago. You can see his description and wonderful pics here. But I already had plans to visit the restaurant for an article I was working on, and thought it would be fun to couple this with a blog on my meal.
All meals at Flava start with a complimentary dish of khao tang na tang:
This is essentially puffed rice crackers served with a dipping sauce. I normally like this dish, but when I saw the recipe that Chubby Hubby had got from Flava's chef, I was pretty skeptical. The inclusion of red curry paste makes it seem like the kind of Thai dish inspired by a recipe on the back of a box of American Pad Thai Noodles. It was better than that, although it still lacked the salty savouriness that this dish should have.
Our meal proper started with Yam chao suan, a "salad" of banana flower and young coconut with prawns and shredded chicken:
This odd combination of ingredients was, well... odd, but not bad. I'm not a big fan of banana flower to begin with, so the tart, astringent taste didn't really win me over. It looks lovely though, doesn't it?
In an effort to order something slightly unusual, I chose Lon ta jiew:
This dish, a savoury "dip" of fermented soybeans, coconut milk and fresh herbs, is a really Thai dish that one doesn't normally see on too many menus. Flava's version was just OK, definately nothing to write home about. The requisite saltiness of the fermented soybeans just wasn't there, and there was little hint of the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galingal and other fresh herbs that should be in full force here. And the selection of veggies served along with the dish was pretty dull.
Next was Bour thot goong, shrimp wrapped in bai cha phluu, wild tea leaf, and deep-fried a la tempura:
A fun, and well-prepared dish.
We also had Goong tom yam hang, a "dry" tom yam consisting mostly huge prawns:
At this point, you might have noticed a trend: prawns. Upscale Thai restaurants tend to unmercifully unload prawns on their diners. My theory on this is that in the West, prawns, at least large, good-quality ones, are very expensive, and chefs here can easily wow foreign diners (who constitute the vast majority at upscale Thai restaurants--Thais eat elsewhere) by including them at every turn. To the restaurant's credit, the prawn dishes were all done very well, including the above, and it was probably our own fault for ordering so many dishes that included them. But like many upscale Thai restaurants, the menu seemed to be dominated by this one ingredient.
The hands-down winner of the meal was the Geang prik kraduk moo, "Pork spare ribs braised in black peppercorns and red curry":
This is a variant of a southern Thai dish, and it was clear that the chef was confident about this one--not a surprise as Flava's Sous Chef is a native of Phuket. The curry was spicy, but it was the warmth of black pepper, rather than the burn of chilies. The pork was tender, and as you can see, the herbs are there in full force. I can still taste this one.
Flava's dining room is super funky, and I loved the unorthadox presentation of the dishes, especially the splashes of turmeric-laced oil and the grindings of black pepper. I'd recommend it to novice Thai diners, or to those looking for solid and tasty, but not exceptional Thai food, in an exceptional setting.
10 Sukhumvit Soi 15, Bangkok
02 254 8500