A friend said it's a hidden treasure. Another couldn't stop praising its roast duck curry and durian sticky rice dessert. Such observations gave me enough reason to check out one of downtown Bangkok's least proclaimed fine-dining Thai restaurants, Charm Thai.
The restaurant is adorned with an exquisite Thai touch.
Located on the lobby floor of the hotel, the 120-seater has been operating since 2004 and is well-loved by international diners _ both in-house and walk-in guests.
Though the restaurant is adorned with an exquisite Thai touch (antiquated wooden artefacts and a gleaming gold hue), its cuisine is not served as elaborate palace style, but classic home fare meticulously prepared by a veteran Thai chef and served in contemporary presentation. The food, therefore, seems to be enjoyed not just by tourists, but also by discerning connoisseurs of local cooking.
From the 100-item menu, mee krob (350 baht), was first to arrive. It consisted of three neatly arranged portions of the crispy sweet noodles tossed with shrimp, tofu, garlic and lime zest, accompanied by the works, namely fresh bean sprouts, coriander and chives. Charm Thai's version of mee krob wasn't at all brittle and dry, but had the familiar gooey sweet caramelised character. Two options of sour and spicy yum that we had impressively represented Thai-style pungency. The pomelo salad, or yum som o, with grilled river prawn (350 baht), deserved two thumbs up. The citrus pulp, though non-squelchy, nicely possessed the sweet and sour juicy essence that's well complemented by toasted coconut flakes, fried shallots, herbs and chillies. Meanwhile, the grilled river prawn, which was placed on top and intermingled superbly with the tangy salad, yielded a pleasant chargrilled fragrance, supple firm texture and naturally flavourful meat.
Yum poo nim or crispy soft-shell crab salad.
Should you wish to enjoy a platter of goong phao or other grilled meat options, the restaurant also has a variety of grilled items, including tiger prawns, beef and pork shoulder on offer (unlike most five-star hotel-based Thai cuisine outlets). Each choice comes with condiments that would best complement it.
Another salad worth having is yum poo nim, or crispy soft-shell crab salad (375 baht). The soft-shell crabs, slightly battered and deep-fried, were adeptly cooked to offer a satisfactory crunch that went well with the aromatic herbal dressing.
The evening's most memorable dish that has very much inspired a return visit was gaeng phed ped krob, or red curry with crispy duck (495 baht). In a simple-looking but generous portion, neat hefty slices of top-grade roast duck with crispy lean mahogany-coloured skin and succulent flavourful meat (obviously a shared resource with the hotel's Chinese outlet) came half-bathed in the reddish brown curry. The look of it could be deceiving, but not with this best-seller, which perfectly combined authentically salty sweet curry with one of the city's best roasted poultry. The curry was best enjoyed with rice.
Another dish ideally eaten with jasmine rice is moo krob phad nam phrik phao, or stir-fried crispy pork with roasted chilli paste and crispy sweet basil leaves (450 baht). This richly flavourful dish, which is usually rare at upscale fine-dining outlets, provided as pungent and fiery a tang as you'd expect from a home-cooked counterpart. But what's different was the quality of the crispy pork, which throughout the meal retained its crustiness and succulent pork tang.
The not-to-bemissed red curry with crispy duck.
Who said Thais never enjoy pineapple fried rice? At Charm Thai, khao ob sapparos, or pineapple fried rice, (350 baht) is one of the most-ordered rice dishes by Thai diners. Served in a cut-open pineapple, the pastel-yellow fried rice was tossed with top-quality shrimps, onions and sweet pork floss to create a mild-tasting fried rice with a tangy fruity hint.
We also sampled goong lai suea sam rod, or deep-fried tiger prawns with spicy sweet and sour sauce (850 baht). The dish was a great demonstration of top-of-the-line quality, even though, in terms of palatibility, was quite run-of-the-mill.
For dessert, I highly recommend khao kayakhoo, or pandanus pudding (175 baht). This pastel-green pudding made with young rice milk and pandan leaf essence is an old-fashioned Thai delicacy hardly found nowadays. The not-too-sweet pudding came drenched with coconut cream, which added a salty suety touch to the light and silky treat.
Another delightful sweet ending was khao niew mamuang, or fresh sweet mango served with sweet sticky rice, (325 baht). Durian fans, meanwhile, should never miss the sticky rice with durian-infused coconut milk (135 baht).
Highly popular pineapple fried rice.
The crispy sweet mee krob noodles with shrimp, tofu and lime zest.
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About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter