By : JOHN GRANVILLE
28 November 2018
About: Mei Jiang means beautiful river, and the Peninsula’s Cantonese restaurant has a lovely view out to the hotel garden, and the river beyond. The restaurant, which has remained essentially unchanged since the hotel opened more than 20 years ago, is these days under Chinese chef Ball Yau, who was born and raised in Hong Kong and who has a world-class track record.
Decor: Regarded as one of Bangkok’s premier Chinese restaurants, the atmosphere is coolly elegant without being too stiff or formal, and the relatively small number of places ensures that there is an intimate quality.
Menu: This was the first degustation menu we have had at Mei Jiang, the price being 4,900++ baht for food and an additional 888++ baht per person for the tea pairing. We started the evening with crispy bean curd filled with assorted fresh mushrooms, the bean curd deep-fried giving it a golden colour. The next dish was pumpkin with homemade preserved plum sauce, which cleansed the taste of the preceding fried dish. Next arrived double boiled sea conch and morel in chicken broth, followed by stir-fried Phuket lobster with egg white, crab coral and green asparagus. Pan-fried Hokkaido scallop with minced shrimp was a good blend between Chinese and European flavour profiles, especially with the port wine and barbecue sauce. The organic cocktail tomato and young vegetables with pumpkin sauce didn't have a distinct taste, though it felt like something healthy and light to have – a slight mismatch on the menu, we thought. Stewed snow fish with spring onion and chilli sauce followed, the snow fish being prepared differently from what we usually find at Chinese restaurants, with the kitchen cutting down on the fattiness of the fish. Sweet and sour crispy carabineros were lightly battered prawns, their slightly salty taste offset with a plum sauce. Stewed red garoupa with black mushroom and garlic came with aromatic rice-wine gravy. Braised M6 Wagyu beef brisket rolls swam in a beef consommé with paper-thin turnip slices. Braised bamboo fungus with black truffle in homemade bean curd skin had a luxurious taste as it was smoked in apple wood and garnished with black truffle sauce. Steamed free-range chicken was served with red dates wrapped aromatically in lotus leaves. The savoury dishes were rounded off with noodles and barbecued Iberico pork, spring onion and ginger, and fried rice with Lap Chong Chinese sausage and taro. To finish there were two desserts: pumpkin coconut cream with bird's nest, which was quite a rich offering and the lighter of the two; followed by sweetened tofu flower with gingko and water chestnuts.
Evaluation: This was a delectable dining experience, however, 16 courses for us were a lot to go through! Additionally, although we appreciated the pairing of the teas, possibly with such a lengthy degustation menu some wine would have been perfect. We would hope to see an option for wine pairings with this menu in the near future.