It’s been a month since I touched down in Bangkok. The initial shock of acclimatising to life in Southeast Asia has began to disperse, in actual fact the initial preconceptions of a land of chaos and disorder are completely unfounded. Yes, life is different in many ways but different isn’t necessarily bad. Once you scratch the surface of Bangkok you soon discover a laid back land of calm, order and respect. I suppose waking up to glorious sunshine and 30 degrees temperatures, taking a morning dip in the pool then heading to Le Cordon Bleu for a days work in the kitchen has aided in my newly relaxed mindset. With this settled mind and body it’s about time I breathed life back into my food blog, so to kick things off I present to y’all the brain child of Chef Chantree “Tee” Kachonklin.
Born in Bangkok in 1985, the young Tee moved to London where he trained in the art of western gastronomy for six years prior to his return to Bangkok to open La Table de Tee at just 25 years old. The concept is simple and effective, Tee selects two complementary main ingredients for each dish, using local and seasonal ingredients. Combining these ingredients with French and Thai cooking techniques Tee creates a Chef’s Table Tasting Menu that changes weekly. Located just minutes walk from the busy Silom Road and Lumphini Park it’s hard to believe La Table de Tee has stayed such a hidden gem to the hordes of tourists that frequent the area, although the unassuming Thai townhouse structure located on a low-key side soi (street) is likely to be invisible to many untrained farang eyes. The dining room is intimate, sitting around 20 guests, and the drinks menu is short yet decisive. But the real star at La Table de Tee is the food.
Our meal began with baskets of warm in-house baked miniature breads. These pillowy bite size morsels served as perfect vessel for the home-made butter. Our attempts to resists eating the entire basket to save room for our five course meal were futile, in fact we had our basket refilled halfway through the meal! Next two small plates that served as a duo of starters; Smoked Coconut Volute, a vibrant yellow on the plate, rich with coconut and sour with lemon grass, served alongside a delicate prawn ravioli, whole shrimp and a slice of pan-fried red snapped. Crisp shards of golden onion added texture to contrast the softness of the fish and ravioli.
This was followed by Honey Roasted Duck Breast Salad; slices of perfectly blushing duck breast coupled with tender asparagus tips and slices of savoury dehydrated, salty bacon. Tiny pieces of fried and puffed egg pasta added texture and somehow sweetness to the dish, but for me the star was the curry galangal (Thai ginger with a stronger flavour and heat) sauce that balanced heat, richness, sweetness and spice wonderfully when eaten with the other components.
For the following three courses Tee puts the ball in your court and invites you to make selections from a pair of choices. Pan-fried John Dory with baby squid and black muscles was cooked wonderfully, standing up nicely against the zesty lime sauce, providing a light and refreshing plate of food. It was becoming apparent that Tee’s use of fresh herb garnish is not only for taste but aesthetics. On this occasion I felt the liberal amounts of dill and parsley detracted from the delicate flavour of the fish so opted not to eat most of the herbs. I’m of the opinion that every component of a dish should not only be for look but more importantly taste, and eating whole springs of dill isn’t my cup of tea. Small criticism though to an otherwise lovely dish.
For main, Kurobuta Pork and Five Spice. For those not in the know, Kagoshima Kurobuta is a black pig bread in Kagoshima Prefecture (Japan), not surprising given the name right? Well what you may not know is that Kagoshima Kurobuta is a direct descendant from the rare bread English Berkshire pig prized for its tender meat with heavy fat marbling. The pork didn’t disappoint, oh so juicy and tender. Served with a confit mini spare rib that smacked with five spice and sweet stickiness. Spots of velvety smooth potato cream and braised baby artichoke hearts gave balance to this meat feast, while a thin slice of parma ham gave not only texture but seasoning. This had to be the best course of the night.
And as soon as dinner had begun it was already drawing to an end. How could I resist Dark Chocolate Fondant served with coconut ice cream (I’m a massive coconut fan) and the intriguing sounding sticky rice tuile. Unfortunately the fondant disappointed with a lack of molten chocolate centre, although the coconut ice cream provided some compensation. Sticky rice tuile was interesting and largely successful, sticky and chewy with a slight saltines. Tuile and ice cream alone made for a wonderful combination.
Lastly peanut macaroons and shot glasses filled with fruit jelly were brought to our table, or peanut butter and jelly (I assume that was the intention). Macaroons were nothing short of brilliant, in fact we toyed with the idea of requesting a box to take home with us, next time maybe. Savoury peanut with a hint of chilli, I could eat a box of them right now. The fruit jelly was a nice contrast in texture when eaten with the macaroons but offered little more than this, but those macaroons…
All in all, for under 1,300 baht (including service charge) you’ll struggle to find a Chef’s Table Tasting Menu in Bangkok of better, or even similar standard. The weekly changing, seasonal menu and technique on display by this budding young gun (Tee is still a few years shy of 30) is bound to impress anyone when making a trip to La Table de Tee. I’m already planning my next visit.
La Table de Tee – 69/5 Saladeng Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 (Thailand)