reviewed by : Ken Barrett

26 December 2017

  • reviewer's rating :
summary : Romantic Thai fine dining in three teak pavilions set in the riverside gardens of the Shangri-La.

About: A long established Thai fine dining restaurant, dating all the way back to 1986, sourcing much of its produce from the Royal Projects and presenting a setting that appeals equally to couples, locals, visitors, and business parties.

Décor: Down the stairs from the hotel lobby you go, along the footpath through the riverbank gardens, until three traditional Thai teak pavilions are seen through the greenery. The pavilions form three separate dining rooms, loosely connected, which renders them intimate dining spaces. The teak walls are pierced with glazed windows, beyond which is a constant parade of river traffic, especially exotic being the river cruise vessels, brightly lit like floating gin palaces. Tables are also available on the riverside terrace. Almost part of the décor is Chef Anchalee Chienhen, a delicious dumpling of a chef who radiates good cheer and who in addition to being a wonderful advertisement for her own cooking is also happy to explain how the dishes are prepared.

Menu: Salathip has a new menu, and we gleefully explored as much of it as we could. We felt it appropriate to drink Thai wine, and selected a bottle of GranMonte Spring (1,600 baht), a chenin blanc from Khao Yai, which served us well throughout the meal. We started with a selection of appetisers. Soft-shell crab salad (450 baht) had juicy pieces of pomelo and crispy shallots; fresh rice paper rolls (420 baht) were stuffed with Norwegian smoked salmon and fresh garden vegetables; scallops (520 baht) were seared and accompanied by a mango sauce that had a gentle after-burn of chilli; and the dish that is sometimes known as prawns-in-a-blanket had the meaty prawns tucked up with minced chicken in a Chinese pancake (420 baht). Tom yam goong (420 baht) was served with prawns inside a coconut shell, the soup having a delicately sour flavour permeated by the citrus tang of lemongrass. Thai-style, our main courses were served simultaneously. A deep-fried sea bass (570 baht) had been carved and was served with a choice of mango, tamarind, and sweet-and-sour sauces. Stir-fried Phuket lobster (1,680 baht) was meaty and tender, and accompanied by a subtle ginger and chilli sauce. A side dish of crispy mackerel (220 baht) came with a pungent sauce of fermented shrimp and chilli. One of the signature dishes on the new menu is roasted duck served with grapes and pineapple in a gentle red-curry sauce (380 baht), a rich and creamy dish with thick slices of tender duck meat. We enjoyed charming table service throughout our meal, and as we were five people this was appreciated, as it meant no one had the bother of passing dishes to and fro across the table. Diners were entertained by performers dressed in traditional Thai theatre costume, passing through the restaurant and performing tableau; a delightful variation on the usual cultural performance that one finds in other Bangkok restaurants.

Evaluation: Salathip is outstanding in every way, in setting, décor, service and cuisine, and the new menu displays the talents of Chef Anchalee and her team at their very best. As a Thai dining experience, this could not be bettered.