Above: A ‘samrab‘ of Thai meal means a set of assorted savouries to be shared over a plate of steamed rice. Usually, the selected savouries compliment each other in tastes, hence making the entire meal rounded and wholesome.
R.Haan (pronounced A-harn that means ‘food’ in Thai) is a new Thai fine-dining restaurant located on an inner corner of Thonglor Soi 9 – the prime corner where myriads of other restaurants used to exist before in this high turnover piece of property. But instead of putting in another Italian or Japanese eatery into this expat-dense area, R.Haan is offering a cuisine that both locals and anyone can be excited for. The Thai food here is served in a samrab style beautifully done to suit a special occasion. But at the same time, many dishes are drawn from old Thai cooking wisdom that, for some reason, can make the food even tastier.
Above: Appetizers of coconut-smoked pork sausage, Thai yam yai salad, black go-rae-style grilled chicken and crispy basket in green instead of the usual golden. The last picture is deep-fried pomfret fish with Thai garlic from Srisaket.
We were there to try their Mother’s Day set (back in August 🙂 which is selected from the new ‘Rainy Season’ menu now in season at the restaurant. R.Haan only serves set menus with the list of the dishes eclectic but somehow when put together and eaten together complimenting each other. This way of eating is called ‘samrab’ which is meant to be shared over a plate of steamed rice. Although some of the dishes sound familiar, the looks and tastes can differ slightly, for there are some twists the chef does to make his creation more interesting.
For example, the above hot and spicy chicken soup is served with the soup syphoned with herbs, making the soup clear like a consommé while still containing deep flavours of the herbs. Also, ‘ran-juan‘ soup which is a new creation back a century ago from a leftover bowl of shrimp paste chilli dip is prepared here with river prawns, instead of the usual beef or pork. Those orthodox might not approve, but for me the taste and texture were quite delicious.
One thing that is a staple for any Thai home-cooked meal is a bowl of chilli dip or ‘namprik.’ Throughout Thailand, you might be able to find more types of namprik you can try. And each family, each kitchen also has their own private repertoire. But namprik, to be eaten with assorted veggies, fresh, blanched or sometimes deep-fried, is always welcomed into a Thai samrab. A bowl of chilli dip is always packed with flavours. Salty, spicy, sour, rounded off with a little bit of sweetness. Sometimes, the chilli dip is intentionally made to be a bit too sour on its own just because it would taste perfect when eaten with a shredded piece of salted fish, for example. And this is how good Thai chefs work; they anticipate the tastes and then prepare the basic flavours accordingly.
Above is a bowl of crab roe chilli dip served with fresh vegetables and extra crabmeat on the side. The crab shell is also lined with a thin layer of steamed egg providing a neutral nuance to the otherwise very fiery tastes. Awesome.
Here come the desserts that made yet another big portion of the set. Usually, in a proper Thai home, a dessert can be a whole fruit of sugar apple (noi-na) served as if nothing happened. But in reality, that fruit was already carved out of its myriad small seeds, but the professional carving hands are so light they did zero damage to the natural look of the fruit. That is another way of showing off. That you can master such a traditional and super royal exquisite food-preparation feat. Or you have someone who can do it for your guests. But that would be another story altogether.
Desserts at R.Haan were also elaborate, although I cannot say they are the best I have ever had. The set featured a lot of plates, each quite a generous portion. If you feel like not quite filled with their tidbits of savouries before, you would feel exploded if you eat everything on their sweet side. One main dessert plated on a proper plate western style, then an ample bowl of Thai traditional coconut-milk-based dessert and then more with a layered tray of petit-fours as you can see from the picture above.
R.Haan is open only for dinner. A small parking at the premises and valet parking is also available. You can peruse their menu here or call T: (+66) 095 141 5524 for reservation.
** Price range: BBBB or about Bt2,600++ per person for food only.