The first thing that caught my eye when we arrived at the Sukhothai Hotel in Bangkok was these two, huge posters they had hanging outside advertising Michelin Stars. I didn’t read the rest, and right away turned to Travis and said: “they have Michelin Stars!” (Queue in dreamy look.)
Well, as it turns out, they do not. But what they did have was guest chefs, cooking special menus. Luck will have it: one of the two guest chef was in town *right now*. Right now!
But let’s start from the beginning. You might be wondering, what’s the big deal, and what is a Michelin Star? Well, first we need to explain what the guide itself is:
The MICHELIN guide was first published in 1900, in France. From a small, 400-page red guide distributed free of charge to motorists to make their travels easier and more enjoyable, the MICHELIN guide has developed over the years to become the benchmark in gourmet dining. Today, the MICHELIN guide collection is comprised of 25 guides covering 23 countries and more than 45,000 establishments.
The guide awards one to three stars to restaurants of outstanding quality. One star indicates a “very good cuisine in its category”, a two-star ranking represents “excellent cuisine, worth a detour,” and three stars are awarded to restaurants offering “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” – but these are rare. Stars are a huge deal for restaurants, and there have been stories of treason, suicide and insanity caused by the loss of stars, or the desire to gain or retain stars.
I had never had the pleasure to dine in a restaurant with stars, and needless to say that I was impressed. Travis and I started to scheme: how could we convince Ginger to partake in the event, and bring us along? Well, we didn’t have to do anything. While we were talking about dinner, she right away suggested that we use the opportunity to enjoy 2-star dining. Hurray!
We agreed to make a reservation for the second day, to give a chance to the kitchen to iron out any kinks first. How exciting!
First, La Scala is quite the elegant room. It’s a mix of styles, but it works well together. It made us feel like a real, upscale dinner made up in mid-century furniture, if that makes any sense? My apologies if it doesn’t. The room was warm and inviting, with the open kitchen right in the middle. This was great because we could see everyone hard at work, right down to the meticulous plating.
For dinner we had the set menu with wine pairing. It consisted of 8 courses, with the desert having more than one item each. The “main course” was an option, and we ordered one of each in order to sample everything. My only complaint for the night is that I received the fish instead of the beef I had ordered, but it wasn’t a big enough deal for me to complain.
I could go into details of every dish, but they were all very elaborate and it would probably not translate well anyway. If Travis wishes to take that up on his blog, he’d most likely do a better job than I would. I will say though that everything was really nice, and that it was an enjoyable evening. It was fantastic to be able to analyze food and be critical – we could finally have intelligent conversations about food and wine. Some flavours were new, like the buckthorn gel – it was nice to be discovering new things. And wine! The late harvest was specially nice…. and the “meadow sweet pannacotta” revelatory.
Anyway, here are the pictures of the dishes! Hover over an image to get the name of the dish as per the menu.
As a funny aside, I thought that I could taste durian in the buckthorn gel. I thought that it was a good flavour profile, and thought that maybe the chef had been trying to include some aspects of Asian cuisine in the French menu, since we were in Asia and all. We asked a few staff, but no one knew and no one was willing to ask the kitchen. At the end of our dinner, the chef came by to check if everything had been OK. We asked the chef about the durian, to which he replied that he was really offended! As it turns out, he had tried durian the day before and absolutely hated it, thinking that it tasted like feet. I had to apease the situation by explaining that I actually liked durian (which I do), but you should have seen his face! Poor guy.
Again, thank you chef! (And Ginger for the incredible treat!)