The Kitchen Table reinforces belief there is need for art even in casual hotel dining.
By Emmi Laine
Sometimes the fundamental reason to like a restaurant is not because of their magnificent food or their impeccable service but instead their exceptional concept design, especially if it is based on benevolent principles. At The Kitchen Table Restaurant in W Bangkok, one of the 44 W-branded luxury hotels worldwide, this aspect comes from their support to emerging Thai artists.
“Mystic and bejeweled” are words that come to my mind as we enter this 31-floor glass tower in Chong Nonsri. Our art walk reaches its first stop next to the lifts; Bangkok Nights, where an installation of 800 different kinds of tuk-tuk lights blink their urgent signals, displaced from the city´s notorious traffic congestion. The next one is on the second floor; Twinkling Bangkok Sculpture presents a wired and tangled 3D-panorama of the capital, handmade by artist Alongkot In-art.
Possibly the wittiest piece of art, however, sits next to our table: Sutee Kunavichayanont´s Holographic Art Feature, which takes inspiration from Thai folk tale hero, Krai Thong, who saves two girls from demon crocodile Chalawan. Accordingly, dozens of hollow Krai Thongs appear on the wall, but it is up to the observer to find three hidden crocodiles among them. The lizard skin pattern repeats on the curved yellow and bronze walls of the restaurant. The walls shine their funky yellow light on our wooden table group, creating a slight “inside the crocodile belly” effect.
So is there a crocodile on the menu, too? Chef Manoj Kottarathil approaches us from the open kitchen and brings our imagination back to the level of our table: “It’s a mix of Thai and international food,” he says. His recommendation is pla gapong nueng (Bt500) — steamed sea bass, lemongrass, chili, and garlic. “Flavors are completely Thai,” he explains, “a bit spicy, and comes with a seafood sauce.” Manoj’s motto is “Honest Thai Food,” which for him means the ingredients are local and fresh. We doubt him a bit, as any experienced traveler would when it comes to calling hotel food “locally authentic,” but we order it anyway.
Our suspicions were terribly off. My Thai lunch companion says the traditionally prepared fish was her favorite, and I must agree; the rolls are neatly and delectably executed. Same goes for the namtok neua (Bt420), beef salad with toasted rice. The tender slices of meat are stirred tasty with shallots, lime, and spearmint. This time one extra-ingredient is added: garlic, a well-placed signature touch. The freshness of ingredients is even more obvious with the hamachi carpaccio with yuzu fruit and thinly sliced asparagus (Bt480). It arrives on an artistic black stone and blooms with edible viola flowers. I perform the easiest and quickest test for fresh sushi; I smell it. The raw fish smells like clean water, the uttermost neutral, and almost like cucumber.
The Australian lamb cutlets (Bt800), which are tense and red enough for a medium-raw, follows and then the much softer Pedro Xiemenez braised wagyu beef cheek (Bt750). The high-end red meats are worth their value here indeed.
That said, if I only had one thing to order, it would be the slow cooked beef shoulder mini burgers with balsamic onions, roasted tomato, and pickled zucchini (Bt500). The beef is so tender, it shreds as you bite into the grilled patties. The fine tatters reveal an organic taste of meat, topped with aromatic onions. Handmade potato wedges, ketchup, and mustard accompany the mini-burgers in cute glass jars. They are sinfully salty but delicious.
But wait, maybe there is a limit to all the creativity: Has The Kitchen Table taken its artistic freedom into dubious heights by creating tom yam ice cream? I could warn you, but it would take all the fun out of it. See, and taste, for yourselves! All in all, The Kitchen Table reinforces belief that there is indeed need for art even in casual hotel dining. And to fans of shrimp sundaes: it’s different strokes for different folks, as they say!
The Kitchen Table
W Bangkok Hotel
106 North Sathorn Rd,
Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok (BTS: Chong Nonsri)