Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bo.lan (โบ.ลาน) @ Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand

Cuisine: Thai
Price: THB1,100 per person without alcohol (what we paid for)
Visited: 24 August 2013
Food: 5/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 2/10
Services: 3/10

"Bo.lan" or "โบ.ลาน", anyone travelling to Thailand at this moment would at least have heard more or less about it: "must try", "the new era of Thai cuisine", "a restaurant for Thai food connoisseurs", and etc. We, too, have been eager to try one of the World's most famous Thai fine dining.

The word Bo.lan comes from the names of the two co-owners: Duangporn "Bo" Songvisava, a popular celebrity chef from TV programme "Eat, Am, Are" in Thailand, and Dylan "Lan" Jones. Bo.lan as in "โบราณ" not "โบ.ลาน" also means ancient or antique in Thai. Not sure whether this is an intention or just an accident.

Bo.lan - โบ.ลาน

garden atmosphere

front reception

Once a month, we would get to hang up with the gang and this time we decided to go for Thai food and Bo.lan was agreed to be the choice. We did give a ring immediately to book a table. At first, we asked for a table for 8 people to be reserved at 06:30pm and we were immediately denied but got offered 07:30pm instead: ok, not a big problem. The staff then came with another surprise of requesting THB500 deposit per person and there were 2 choices of doing so: either come in person and pay by cash or give credit card detail over the phone insecurely. I have to say that paying deposit for booking in Thailand is really abnormal, not a standard practice really here even with restaurants in 5 stars hotels.

Upon arrival, there came another surprise. There is no parking space available and no warning from the restaurant upon booking at all. This is really not the standard of such fine dining. However, there is parking valet service available. If you do normally drive and do not like the unreliable parking valet service in Thailand, I do recommend you to take a taxi else you just have to find a parking space along the street which is really limited.

The place of Bo.lan is an old house converted into restaurant. It is decorated easily but still resemble Thai atmosphere of the modern era. There are seats both indoor and outdoor. I guess the outdoor seats would be really good during the cooler time of the year: i.e. towards December and January. The overall atmosphere is rather relax and chill.

outdoor seats

just board decoration

Menu comes in 2 parts: a la carte and set menu. If you are not a local born, I would recommend the set menu such that variety of flavours can be tasted. We of course went for a la carte. For wine list, the marked up price is steep and the range is not wide. For examples Moet & Chandon Brut NV at the price of THB5,999 while street price is around THB3,500 and Crane Lake Sangiovese 2010 at the price of THB1,780 compared to street price of THB530.

The first dish to arrive on the table was egg wrapped sour and spicy squid - ก้อยปลาหมึกห่อไข่ (3/10), which is a complimentary amuse bouche. Funnily, when I asked the staff to repeat what the dish was, he said "complimentary from chef". Oh well, never mind. He seemed to speak English more fluently than Thai. In brief, the dish was kind of sour and spicy boiled squid that was wrapped with net of drizzling fried egg (just like egg that wraps Prik Yuak Yad Sai of Khao Chae). Thing was I could not feel the tiny bit of squid at all and the strong sour and spicy taste just overwhelmed the other aroma.

Relish of salty duck egg simmered in coconut cream and minced prawn served with grilled squid - หลนไข่เค็มใส่กุ้งสับแนมกับปลาหมึกย่าง (7/10) was a good dish that I could not say it was awful. It was smooth, creamy, and balance with sweetness of coconut milk leading. Side vegetables were fresh. However, the texture was too watery. This dish should have a little firmer texture, I suppose. Yet, the price of THB480 was sure too dearly.  Next was grilled pork in corn husk - หมูย่างบนเปลือกข้าวโพด (4/10). Ok, I did enjoy the dish but it did not really take me to "finale". At least, the positive point is the dish did give good corn aroma at each bit. Nevertheless, I am sure those grilled pork along footpath can be even better and THB380 for 2 portions of grilled pork, you must me kidding me.

egg wrapped sour and spicy squid (Goi) - amuse bouche

relish of salty duck egg simmered in coconut cream and minced prawn served with grilled squid (THB480)

grilled pork in corn husk (THB380)

closer look to grilled pork

Moving on to more serious dishes. Salad of grilled pork and deboned rambutan tossed in Thai herbs and red chilli dressing - ยำคอหมูย่างใส่เงาะคว้าน (6/10) was a typical Thai sour salad (Yum). A touch of sour from lime and spiciness from chilli. Bo.lan used the sweetness of rambutan to balance the whole picture which was a good idea. Stir-fried pork tender with santol - หมูผัดกระท้อน (5/10) was next. It tasted like stir-fried pork with shrimp paste (กะปิ). It was again just an enjoyable Thai dish with leading flavour of spiciness and sour from santol.

Here is the nightmare of the meal, stir-fried local greens both cultivated and wild - ผัดผัก ผักผัด (3/10). This dish was just a bad joke for us. It was plain and, yeah, plain. THB380 for stir-fried vegetable that my mother's one is far better, I must be insane to pay for this dish and yes, I did order it. (T__T) The annoying point is we asked a staff what it was and the reply was "local greens". For goodness sake, could you just at least explain what types of vegetable were in the dish. (~.~)" Ok, at least it was a healthy dish.

salad of grilled pork and deboned rambutan tossed in Thai herbs and red chilli dressing (THB420)

stir-fried pork tender with santol (THB520)

stir-fried local greens both cultivated and wild (THB380)

Here are soup and curry dishes. The first one was Northern style hot and sour soup of banana blossom and herbal fed chicken - ต้มยำไก่บ้านแบบเหนือใส่หัวปลี (5/10). It was Tom Yum indeed. Sour and lingering spiciness. This dish reminded me of Gai Super (ไก่ซุปเปอร์) or hot and sour chicken soup which is a famous dish for streetfood, especially to those teenagers and university students.

Next was the dish we like the most from Bo.lan: "Mon" style Khi Lek curry with daily ocean fish - แกงขี้เหล็กปลาทะเลกับยำผักกาดดอง (8/10). Khi Lek was a kind of local herbal ingredient that can be used both leaves and blossom. I love the balance of the taste: a touch of sweetness and a touch of spiciness. Strong but not intense. Fish was cooked to perfection: smooth and tender. The alongside preserved vegetable paired well with the curry. The last dish of this meal was spicy curry of chicken and yam bean - แกงเผ็ดเกล็ดแก้ว (6/10). In other restaurants, you may widely see spicy curry of duck. It was a typical pleasant spicy curry: tender chicken, herbal aroma, thick, and creamy from coconut milk.

Northern style hot and sour soup of banana blossom and herbal fed chicken (THB240)

chicken on the bone from tom yum

"Mon" style Khi Lek curry with daily ocean fish (THB780)

white fish from Khi Lek curry

spicy curry of chicken and yam bean (THB540)

chicken on the bone from spicy curry

All in all, we do think it was a good meal in term of overall taste. However, taking into account of not up to standard services, I am not so sure why this restaurant from Thailand gets into Asia's 50 Best Restaurants whilst there are so many other splendid restaurants out there.  Bo.lan should really improve its service, including knowledge of staffs as well as proper international standard practice if they really want to classify themselves as luxury dining. As a local borne, I am sure many other Thai restaurants (authentic) in Bangkok do offer better taste and services (carving out the fancy technique and creative ingredients). To go back to this place???  Probably not, but at least it was a good experience.

Bo.lan (โบ.ลาน) @ Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand
42 Soi Pichai Ronnarong Songkram
Sukhumvit 26 Road
Khlong Toey
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Tue - Sun 06:00pm - 01:00am

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