Dinner at Asia’s #1

I must admit I came to the visit at Nahm with high expectations as it, with spot 13, is the highest ranked Asian restaurant on the top 50 restaurants in the world (and consequently also ranked number 1 on the top 50 list for Asia). Perhaps I should have known better as I am not always in agreement with the list makers at the Worlds 50 best restaurants (still cannot get that Dinner is number 5, yes a good restaurant but not really the top class to deserve such a spot).

Nahm is at the entrance floor at the Metropolitan hotel in Bangkok. The building has a distinct 70s feel to it but when walking into to the restaurant it looks very nice as the first thing I saw was the nice seats outside. We were unfortunately not seated there but if we would go again I would make sure to ask for a seat on the terrace up front. The decor inside is nice but also a bit boring, it could basically be an upscale hotel restaurant anywhere in the world. What gives away that it is either Asia or the US is the AC being cranked up so much I wish I brought more clothes. I have never really understood the need to lower temperature to 18 or so when it is 30 outside.

After being seated and handed menus we were asked about drinks. After quickly browsing the wine selection (pretty decent) and price level (as most places in Thailand a bit of a joke, for example a glass of champagne was around €35) so we opted for cocktails instead. The list was fairly extensive but surprisingly not that exciting for me or S. I opted for their twist on a Moscow Mule, a Strawberry Mule with vodka, strawberries, fresh ginger and ginger ale. Very refreshing and not sweet so would fit well with the dishes to come. S selected the ginger martini, also very fresh but they should really work on the presentation as it was just dull.

On to the main reason for the visit: the food. Australian born executive chef David Thompson together with head chef Prin Polsuk heading up this place are doing traditional Thai food with some slight twists. The menu was very extensive and split into six sections as well as a separate dessert menu. It had canapés, salads, soups, relish, curry and stir-fry/steamed/grilled. There is also a tasting menu offered for 2200 THB per person and that features a selection of canapés and a choice of one dish from each section as well as dessert.

Browsing the menu we quickly grasped that it would be a better option to just order what we wanted from the a la carte instead of taking a tasting menu. Trying to discuss the menu with the staff was however nearly pointless as their level of English was just not sufficient. We could not really get any information on how many dishes should be ordered and despite repeating several times that we did not want anything from the relish section it was repeatedly pushed by the staff.

Since we got nowhere with asking we just picked dishes that we thought sounded good and hoped it was not too much. We choose the following dishes:

– Grilled Mango Salad with Pork and Sour Leaves
– Coconut and Chicken Soup with Deep Fried Garlic,
– Green Mango and Chilli
– Wild Mushroom and Ginger Soup
– Duck Curry with Banana Peppers and Shallots
– Grilled Pork Cheek with Smoky Tomato Sauce
– Stir-fried Wagyu Beef with Charred Onions, Oyster Sauce and Thai Basil

We were informed that it would all come approximately at the same time as it is for sharing. We checked if there was an option to not have all at the dishes at once as food will go cold but not an option. I know that it is pretty typical but still prefer getting a few dishes at a time to be able to eat food while it is at least warm. The food did indeed arrive almost all of it at the same time. Only dish that took longer was the Pork Cheeks that arrived around 15 minutes later than everything else. We were served rice by a waiter walking around with a big bowl. That is of course fine but the problem is that the rice tends to need to be refilled and the waiter was not really attentive so often could be without refill of rice for 10 minutes with all the food on the table. Not a big issue but at a restaurant with ambitions that is not really good enough.

If I look at the food, all of it was good but not at all spectacular in any way. The Mango salad was decent but not really anything I would want to order again, pork was very tough to chew as well. The wild mushroom and ginger soup was also a fairly boring dish, did just have some taste of ginger and the mushrooms were barley noticeable. The other soup, coconut and chicken, was however very nice, pleasant roundness and a proper sting of spiciness. It was also good for warming me up in the cold restaurant.

It was at this point also clear that the we had way too much food, 3 or 4 dishes to share between two people would had been enough. Not sure why the staff could not manage to say anything despite asking several times. The Duck Curry had also sounded exciting but it turned out to be a very plain curry with meat that was chewy and not really tasty. The stir-fried beef was very good, nice texture of beef, good balance to the spiciness. My favorite dish was the pork cheeks or rather part of the dish. They were supposed to be grilled but only part of them appeared to be. Some were almost charcoal like while others were barely grilled at all. Lovely taste to the ones that were grilled properly but too poor execution for the full dish to be a success.

The food was in a sense pretty decent but I expect more from a restaurant that is this highly regarded and that charge well above the average Thai prices. Service was also poor, language skills were not good enough and there was a general lack of attention. The restaurant was not nearly full and there were lots of staff wandering around but still very difficult to get service. We ran out of drinks half-way through dinner but did not manage to get the attention of anyone so ended up not ordering any more drinks. When we finished the mains it was almost impossible to get anyone to bring us first the tea menu and to then take orders. It also appeared to come as a total surprise that after eating we want to pay.

Of the ‘fine dining’ restaurants we visited in Bangkok Nahm was clearly the worst. That is not saying that it was bad but I would not return while I would happily return to Issaya Siamese Club and Gaggan. Price for two was still decent, way too much food, cocktails, water and tea ended up with a bill of around 5 000 THB (approximately €130-140).

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