nahm

A few years ago at The Halkin in London, I had the pleasure of enjoying a most extravagant lunch at Nahm, the only Thai restaurant in the world to be bested with a Michelin star. Australian chef David Thompson is an accidental authority on Thai cuisine – a chance holiday in Bangkok ignited a culinary obsession – and his first cookbook, Thai Food, is a meticulous investigation into the multifarious flavors of the kingdom as well as a bible of food porn for gourmands. The success of an additional outpost of the restaurant in Thailand was recently realized earlier this year when it was named one the The 50 Best Restaurants in the World, so naturally this second Nahm moved high atop my list of must-eats in Bangkok. More casual than what you’d find in London, it was nevertheless equally meticulous, with layer upon layer of flavors surprising the palate on a continuous loop. Rarely does a Thai meal have a repetition of tastes, so a curry, a salad, a relish, some soup and a stir-fry all combine to make a varied dining experience. This isn’t food you shovel in with a pair of chopsticks, however; chef Thompson’s dishes – complex and floridly herbaceous – demand you take the time to savor each bite from the chew to the swallow. Served Thai-style, meaning family style and all at once, it also makes for one fragrant and heady feast.

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nahm

David Thompson has literally written the book on Thai  food in the UK, so I was excited to finally try nahm, his Michelin-starred restaurant – the only Michelin-starred Thai in Europe, by the way – at London’s posh Halkin Hotel in Belgravia.  As expected, it did not disappoint – especially as on the advice of the waiter I opted for the nahm arharn, a traditional Thai meal in which a selection dishes designed to whet the palate are served family-style.  It’s a luxury lunch to be sure but well worth it:  Thompson reveals the subtle complexity of Thai food.  I’d seriously rank it up there with French and Chinese as one of the great cuisines of the world.

An amuse bouche of vegetables, tamarind and palm sugar atop pineapple triangles and stuffed into mandarin segments.

Another amuse:  a chiffonade of vegetables, jalapeno peppers and coriander wrapped in spicy leaves and eaten like a wrap.

Geng Gwia Warn Plaa Grapong Tort:  a green curry of crispy sea bass with white turmeric and Thai basil.

Geng Gari Gai:  an aromatic curry of chicken and potatoes with cucumber relish.

Cucumber relish:  the perfect sweet and sour antidote to the fiery curry.

Yam Pak:  a salad of assorted vegetables dressed with tamarind, palm sugar and sesame seeds.

Pat Het Ton Grataim:  stir-fried girolles and king oyster mushroom with morning glory.

Korng Warn:  fresh fruit for dessert, including rambutan, papaya, and jackfruit.

Korng Warn:  young coconut pudding with sweet corn is served alongside ash pudding, an old fashioned Thai desert made from – you guessed it – ashes.

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