Ugolini Italian Restaurant presents a revelation of new taste – a perfect Italian experience in Bangkok.
By John Howe
Show me an octopus resting on a plate and I will wrinkle my nose, stare at the creature’s tentacles and suckers, and reject the dish. But a Damascene conversion happened recently when I tried Chef Mario’s octopus carpaccio. It was a revelation of new tastes. The ivory-colored transparent thin slice of octopus meat rested on a deep green plinth of rocket salad spiced with piquant virgin olive oil vinaigrette.
With some trepidation I took the knife, sliced into the pearly meat, the taste made me jump not with distaste but with joy at its fresh briny tang. Like all the dishes offered at Ugolini’s Italian Restaurant I took my time to savor the delights of this prime sample of excellent seafood. When the last morsel had been consumed, just like Oliver Twist, I wanted to raise my plate and plead for more. This dish is worth all of its Bt420.
But further gastronomic experiences awaited to delight my eager palate. Placed next on the tasting block was another new dish to me. I recognized it as being a risotto but what risotto? Aquelor risotto with Taleggio cheese and fresh green asparagus.
Taleggio cheese is an ancient variety and is made in Lombardy. It has a distinctively pleasant smooth and buttery taste that hangs around the palate defying you to dismiss it. This cheese coupled with the green asparagus seems like a marriage made in culinary heaven. This is a different dish and one that I would chose again and again. At Bt390 this is a taste sensation that is worth paying twice as much for.
The next dish was every Briton’s favorite, braised beef. But this is beef like my mother never made and when Chef Mario told me of its preparation I can understand why.
Over one liter of wine is used for every kilogram of beef so this is a dish that can be said to be perfectly soused. The beef is slowly cooked one hour at a time over 24 hours, resting and roasting continuously.
The beef is presented in a red wine reduction and resting on a block of polenta. The beef had been seared to seal in the flavors and juices, when I cut into the meat the fibers simply parted at the touch of the blade, which parted the meat like a hot knife through butter. The meat folded on to the plate and waited there as if saying, “eat me, eat me now.” How could I resist such an invitation?
The beef seemed to waft away as if it had vaporized when rested on my tongue; chewing it seems superfluous. The essences of the meat mixed and mingled in a dance of epicurean ecstasy. The seared caramel taste took a gavotte with the flirtatious wine reduction. And the meat itself pleasured my tongue and palate in a courtly pavan that was both a delight and an experience of note.
Now for the dessert, on the recommendation of the chef, I had Mario’s special dish. This was a multi-layered tower of small crisp caramelized tiles supporting a layer of mascarpone cream drizzled with a strawberry jus and topped with a single Chiang Mai strawberry. I chose a pleasing prosecco to accompany this sweet and to finish off an agreeable evening at Ugolini.