Saturday 24 November 2012

Nahm – The Metropolitan Hotel, Bangkok

When choosing where to stay in Bangkok, for us, there was only ever one real contender – The Metropolitan Hotel.

We prefer smaller boutique hotels and usually book through Mr & Mrs Smith (see here) mainly because they always seem to have a good selection of residences that look “up our alley” but the ‘Smith extra’ always goes down a treat as well.

On this occasion our Smith extra included a daily breakfast and a meal in The Metropolitan’s ‘other’ restaurant – Glow.  

I say ‘other’ because, of course, The Metroploitain is perhaps more well known as the location of David Thompson’s acclaimed Thai restaurant – Nahm. (Nahm in London, which was the first Thai restaurant in the world to be awarded a Michelin star, is in the Halkin Hotel that belongs to the same luxury hotel group - COMO Hotels).

Friends who had visited Bangkok before told us that the location was not great as the hotel is on South Sathorn Road in the business district and away from much of the hustle and bustle… this actually suited us.

If you didn’t mind the heat, it was walking distance from Lumpini Park and MRT (subway) station and, of course, the hotel concierge would kindly arrange for a ‘Taxi meter’ (perhaps the best way of getting around the city, despite the traffic choked streets).

We found the rooms modern, light, clean and well equipped for our needs. All staff we met were friendly and helpful throughout our seven day stay. Complimentary Wi-Fi, water and fruit added another bonus.

The biggest plus was the pool – it was beautiful, the perfect temperature and, even on the occasions that we didn’t get it to ourselves, there always seemed to be a spare sun lounger. Sadly the surrounding tall buildings did block out some of the sun throughout the day.

We did not make full use of the ‘Shambhala Urban Escape’ and gym but did use steam rooms and wonderful hydro-pools in the changing rooms.

So far, our mornings in Bangkok had been pretty hectic - up early for breakfast and then off exploring the wonderful sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Thailand.

The morning of our lunch at Nahm felt more like what perhaps a holiday should be – a lie-in followed by a leisurely breakfast and then off to the pool to relax and read.

Having enjoyed dinner at Nahm just a couple of nights previously (see here) I was naturally super excited to return. Laying on the sunlounger looking towards the restaurant, my wife and I decided that we’d ask for a poolside table to enjoy the view from a different angle. To whet my appetite further I had a re-read of Cumbriafoodie’s blog and excellent pictures from his last visit to Nahm (see here).

There were two options for lunch - a set menu featuring a smaller but similar selection similar to the evening menu or a ‘kanom jin’ (kanom jeen) noodle set… naturally, I chose to have both.

Like dinner, we started with the ‘Ma hor’ canapés – we were glad when these little horses galloped back into our lives.

Southern grilled mussels – just as good as we remembered them from dinner: plumps, smoky and beautifully presented on the fluted pandan leaf and wooden plate.

Spicy pork with mint, peanuts and crunchy rice on betel leaves – we had had these before at dinner but somehow the fresh crunch of the betel leaves and fiery filling tasted even better overlooking the midday sunshine. Fortunately my wife had found these too spicy so, this time, I got to eat them all to myself. 

Red curry with duck – having found much of the food at dinner too spicy my wife asked our waiter to recommend dishes that were lower down the Scoville scale.  He suggested the stir-fried prawn dish and kindly said he’s ask the kitchen to prepare a milder version of a red curry with duck. It still had heat but this came from a few fresh chillies as opposed to loads of dried ones and it was tempered with good amount of coconut milk and cream, palm sugar and Thai basil.

Stir-fried prawn, chicken and egg with pickled garlic – another fairly mild dish by Nahm standards, my wife ate most of this dish too but I did manage to snaffle one of the sweet, juicy prawns, all of the fresh chillies and some of the fabulous pickled garlic.

Green curry of tiger prawns with apple eggplants and Thai basil – this was a good, deeply flavoured green curry bursting with all those wonderful Thai flavours of lemongrass, galangal, holy basil, kaffir lime leaves and, of course, chillies.

Kanom jin: grilled catfish with yellow eggplants and southern ginger – this dish came in three parts: a fiery red curry with catfish; a side of fresh vegetables and herbs including lemon basil, banana blossom and feathery acacia shoots and a large bowl containing the fresh ‘kanom jeen’ noodles.

The noodles, made with fermented rice, were also accompanied by boiled eggs, dried chillies, grilled cuttlefish and the delectable ‘satoh beans; (Petai in Malaysian cuisine of ‘stink beans’ in English) which I had been enjoying from various street food stalls without knowing what they were.

A selection of Thai desserts featuring a wonderful array of local ingredients and flavours:

‘Lod chong’ green noodles flavoured with Pandan leaves served in a sweet, floral scented coconut milk ‘soup’ with black sticky rice, fresh longans, water chestnuts, caramelised taro and corn.

Alongside, wrapped in a Pandan leaf, came a ‘tapioca cake’ topped with a dense creamy coconut milk pudding and fresh longans.

Another plate, featured the popular street food ‘Khanom Buang’ or sweet Thai pancakes with coconut cream, persimmon, ‘golden duck egg noodles’ and raisins.

Accompanying the wafers we were also treated to the ‘Queen of fruits’ – the Mangosteen. I cannot describe this delicious fruit better than Jarrett Wrisley (chef / proprietor at Soul Food Mahanakorn): ”Imagine the best peach you've ever eaten, combined with a touch of passion fruit, a sliver of nectarine and a nip of lychee. Imagine a concord grape's sweet purple essence giving way to the clean leanness of a Granny Smith. Add a squeeze of lime, and a spoon of buttery brown sugar. Stir.”

Great hotel and an amazing restaurant worthy of its place at number 50 in the S.Pellegrino The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list.  

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