How the pros cook classic Thai dishes


If you visit The front bedroom at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, its new menu of Thai cuisine might surprise you. Known for its fine Nordic-style cuisine, this acclaimed establishment has recently undergone a daring makeover, including replacing its Nordic menu with comforting traditional Thai cuisine.

One of the brains behind this successful transformation is Chief Sarocha “Bua” Rajatanawin, who believes that credit should also go to his mother. Among the many dishes that make him regret the cooking of his childhood and his mother, a dish of sautéed pork with ginger called moo phad khing is his favorite.

“My mother cooks the best moo phad khingSays the Front Room chef, who shares that his mother’s culinary finesse left an indelible impression on him. “I ate it once moo phad khing with steamed rice for a whole month, at every meal. I appreciate it very much and generally share it with my younger brother.

Chef Bua’s mother is Thai-Chinese and incorporates Chinese cooking styles into her Thai dishes. From her, she learned that too many ingredients and techniques can make a dish “confusing”.

“Understand, choose and balance your ingredients well,” advises Chef Bua, who enjoys using a paste of ground chili peppers from northern Thailand in his cooking. She often uses prik larb chili paste, which includes more than ten herbs and spices, to infuse Thai dishes such as spicy chopped duck salad with a pungent aroma and flavor.

“The taste is the most important. Like my mom, I use a wok, but I use different techniques when cooking. What is important is that my dishes must taste like authentic classics and remind diners of their family and their childhood.

Another chef that Chef Bua cites as a major influence is Michelin-starred French chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier, the former Normandy chef at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Chef Bua says Chef Arnaud helped her understand that “less is more”, revealing: “When I worked with Chef Arnaud, he taught me not to use too many ingredients in one dish, to focus on the three main ingredients and to use the other. ingredients to complete them. I also learned new cooking techniques from Front Room consultant Chef Ann Supanat Khanarak which can make the same ingredients taste different.

Along with the fantastic menu, guests will also enjoy Front Room’s new look – from sumptuous seating and handcrafted furniture to floor-to-ceiling windows that allow sunlight to accentuate the restaurant’s sophisticated details, which evoke the natural landscape. from Thailand. As customers soak up this opulent atmosphere, Chef Bua and his team offer family recipes handed down from generation to generation.

Coconuts had the pleasure of picking the brains of Chef Bua and learning how she and her team built this new stronghold and keeper of tradition.

Can you describe the type of dining experience you plan for the guests of the renovated front room?

Chief Bua: We wanted to reopen Front Room as a Thai restaurant that serves delicious, authentic and comforting food that reminds diners ros moult mae (cooking at mom’s house). We want diners to also enjoy a customer experience that lives up to the Waldorf Astoria brand’s promise of innovative culinary excellence and True Waldorf service.

Was there anything in particular that inspired you when you created the new Front Room menu?

Chief Bua: I take inspiration from the freshness of Thai ingredients like our local vegetables, coconut cream, herbs and spices. I have incorporated many of these colorful and powerful ingredients into the menu. For example, we wanted to showcase the different types of Thai chili peppers that have different smells. The fresh and natural taste of every vegetable, herb and spice still surprises me to this day.

Who did you design this menu with?

Chief Bua: The hotel team worked with consultants Dr. Niphatchanok Najpinij, Thai gastronomy expert and full-time lecturer at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, and Chef Consultant Ann Supanat Khanarak, who is over 30 years old. experience in some of the greatest restaurants and hotels. They share the same vision as I do that the best Thai food is homemade and should be shared with loved ones. Dr Niphatchanok has spent his life researching and studying food. She introduced us to the concept that Thai cuisine has eight distinct flavors: sour, sweet, nutty, salty, spicy, bitter, astringent, and sweet.

Have many family recipes been included in this menu?

Chief Bua: As we all agreed that the best Thai food is cooked by our mothers, each chef including the consultants brought recipes to share, cook and try. We also had intensive training with Chef Ann on the basics of Thai cuisine. At the same time, the Front Room team is familiar with western cooking techniques. Everyone added their creativity and understanding of fine dining to this process, so it was more of a collaborative journey. We shared, discussed and picked the best, so that we could provide an epicurean experience worthy of Waldorf Astoria guests.

What should you keep in mind when structuring a traditional Thai menu?

Chief Bua: When creating a Thai menu it is very important to provide enough variety, from starters and main courses to desserts. For Thais it is very common for us to eat samrub, which is the principle of combining and presenting dishes that complement each other in terms of ingredients, flavors, textures and tastes, so our team had to plan well. The starters complement the main courses and sometimes the desserts too. Each individual has a different palate, but we cannot adapt the dishes too much or they will lose their authenticity.

Speaking of authentic home cooking, in these unprecedented times, many of us are cooking at home more often. Can you give us any expert advice on how to prepare authentic Thai food at home?

Chief Bua: Select the right rice and cook the rice well. As we eat rice with everything, it is very important to buy the right kind of rice. Also, if you can’t finish your steamed rice, keep the leftover rice in the fridge, which will be perfect for a fried rice meal the next day.

As the local situation improves, people are slowly dining out. What meal would you recommend for readers wishing to dine at the Front Room?

Chief Bua: The Front Room kitchen is best enjoyed in groups and shared samrub style — several dishes that complement each other. Meat lovers will love it Ruammit Yang, which is a mixed grill platter featuring marinated shrimp, pork, and minced pork, served with a coconut dip and pineapple relish. Try the spicy and refreshing Yum Gai Sheek Bai Paew, a Thai-style shredded chicken breast salad with Vietnamese cilantro. For your main course, do not miss our Talae Gub Sator Kua Khem Sauce (seafood sautéed with bitter beans and salted seafood oil), Nuea Khem Tom Kati (coconut broth, salted beef cheek, shallots and pepper) and Pla Gao Nueng Phrik Larb Kua (grouper, shallot, garlic and fermented fish oil, served with steamed rice). Finish your meal with the iconic Front Room Maphrao Cheesecake, which is a coconut cheesecake with a young coconut jelly and a white chocolate mousse.

Some people might still prefer take-out or home delivery. Could you recommend a few menu items that “travel well”?

Chief Bua: Front Room’s popular Chive Cracker appetizer is available to take out. A box of 10 pieces with a sweet soy sauce is priced at 280 THB ++ per box. You may also like our Gaeng Phed Tai Pla Kraphong Bai Yira (Southern Thai sea bass with coconut cream, taro stalk and cumin leaf) and Moo Sam Shan Pad Grathiam Dong (jumped up kurobuta pork belly with fermented garlic). The first is spicy and the other is sweet, so they can be eaten with steamed rice.

Can you also tell us about the plant-based dishes your team has recently created?

Chief Bua: To meet the growing demand for plant-based cuisine, our team have combined our culinary skills and creativity to create exclusive plant-based dishes with Thai flavors. Highlights include Phla lai bua (lotus stem with pomelo and homemade chili paste), Fong Tao Hu Hor Hua Chai Tao Thod (fried tofu skin and steamed turnip), Gaeng Khiao Whan (green curry with vegetable meats, vegetables and coconut meat) and Sorbet Som Zaa (bitter orange sorbet, green mango and ginger accompanied by fried shallots).

The front bedroom is located in the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, 151 Ratchadamri Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330. To make a reservation, call +66 2 846 8847.

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