BAA GA DIN
By : MICHAEL MOORE
15 February 2016
About: A significant force behind Baa Ga Din is highly regarded Thai chef Thitid Tassanakajohn and his partners who are the proprietors of Le Du, Taper and Baan. With this restaurant, they are attempting to create a modern take on Thai street food that uses quality ingredients and modern, imaginative cooking techniques.
Setting: Located in a building that it shares with a Japanese restaurant, Baa Ga Din possesses an intriguing professional design. On one side there is an open kitchen and a small dining room; in the middle there is a charming patio area; and on the other side there is a larger dining room. Seating is in colorful metal chairs. Interest and Thainess are created with Thai bric-a-brac and symbols like illustrations of fighting fish, lottery tickets and rooster cages. The overall effect is casual and comfortable. Although a healthy hike from the Phrom Phong BTS station, there is limited on-site parking available
Menu: The restaurant makes a point of sourcing and using the finest ingredients that it can find. Among the “bar snacks,” we found the Crispy Pork Belly (200 baht) and the Pickled Vegetables (200 baht)– especially the pickled lotus – to be of excellent quality, but our favorite was the One Bone Chicken Wings (160 baht). Among the “small plates,” the Grilled Corn Salad (180 baht) and the Crispy Oysters (280 baht) were tasty. Our favorite dish was the Grilled Pork Shoulder served with red curry and smoked egg (450 baht). It must be said, however, than none of these dishes are something you would write home about and none of them had the zest and pizzazz one associates with Thai food.
On a more negative side, the Sweet Potato Chips (150 baht) lacked crispness and were a bit soggy – inexcusable in a quality restaurant. The Grilled Prawn and Banana Flower Salad (350 baht) was a bland rendition of what could be a great dish. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Boneless Leg of Lamb with Onion, Potato, Massaman (890 baht). Its most significant deficiency was a lack of spicing and a piece of lamb that the chef told us was cooked sous vide, but that we found tough and chewy!
Evaluation: We have seen reviews heaping praise on Baa Gaa Din. Frankly, we find them puzzling. The restaurant is loaded with potential, but in our opinion it has some work to do. To start with, we find the concept flawed. The restaurant says it serves “modern Thai street food”, but we can find no connection between what is served at Baa Ga Din and what is found on the streets of Bangkok. Few, if any, of the dishes served at the restaurant – even in their unaltered states – are street food dishes and when they are modified we find that they lose the essence of being Thai. The problem, in our opinion, is the spicing. When Thai food is altered, modernized, fused or whatever else you want to call it, it must retain the essential Thai flavors that come from the unique spicing Thais use in their cooking. This isn't done at Ba Gaa Din. The restaurant has yet to have a hard opening and it is managed by people who know what Thai food is all about. We are confident, they will eventually get things straightened out, but they still have loads of work to do.
[Image Credit: Exgave]