By : JOHN GRANVILLE
16 January 2019
Perched on the 25thfloor of the Siam@Siam Design Hotel, opposite the National Stadium, Taan uses the Thai word for “eat” to anchor itself to the basic premise that eating began with the sourcing of fresh local ingredients and cooking them in the most satisfying way.
The talented young chef, Monthep Kamolsilp, has a background in French kitchens, but it was while he was travelling around Thailand that he began to have an appreciation of the way in which the local communities were able to sustain themselves through local produce. He also saw how the number of small farmers supplying quality produce has grown, with the emphasis on sustainable farming. From this Chef Monthep has created a Thai menu that uses his French experience to prepare the ingredients and present them in creative ways. The hyper-local menu is organic, seasonal, and very much in tune with the current preference for artisan dining.
Siam@Siam is a designer hotel whose toybox colours create an arty and intriguing effect. Taan is just below the rooftop level, and set into the corner of the building, which allows clear views down to the towers of the central business district, and westwards towards the Old City. Being on a small scale, the restaurant is subdued in its decor, relying on atmospheric lighting and of course the view. There is a small enclave with sofa seating for groups.
An attractively illustrated and handwritten drinks list has a selection of hyper-local cocktails, made from local spirits infused with Thai ingredients. Our Thai Kristall gin with tonic (330 baht) had a gentle aromatic infusion of champak flower and lemon, and got the evening off to a fine start.
Taan also has a listing of new and old world wines, and we moved on to a Chardonnay Terroir from Domaine Begude, from Limoux in France (320 baht per glass), a fresh-edged chardonnay grown in high elevation vineyards, which turned out to be excellent with Thai food. The menu itself is concise, and it lists the distance by kilometre of its main ingredient from the kitchen.
Prawns from brackish water at Ranong, 514 kilometres away, were stuffed with their own roe and served with a choo-chee red curry (390 baht). Beef-bone marrow sourced from a farm 125 kilometres away (420 baht) was crumbed and garnished with Ranong prawns grilled slightly charred, tossed with a homemade chilli paste and with a citrus undertone from lime and lemongrass. We had a soup made from fish caught at Samut Songkhram (86 kilometres, 280 baht), cooked for eight hours with tamarind and served in a broth with squid and razor clam.
Squid from Samut Songkhram (330 baht) was paired with a cake of minced pork in soy sauce, with a hot broth of ginger-infused Chinese wine broth poured on top. Our dessert of steamed toddy palm cake (270 baht) was from Lopburi, 164 kilometres away, and served with burnt-pumpkin ice cream.
Taan may be modest in size, but it has a growing reputation, and deservedly so. This is amongst the most impressive Thai food restaurants that have come on the scene in recent years. Local sourcing also produces excellent value.