I think we overdid it on the upscale restaurants in Bangkok. I got sucked in
because I'm so poor in NYC that the prospect of being able to eat at lots of
expensive places got me excited. Celadon and Blue Elephant were the two I
seemed to hear the most about, so we went for it.
The setting was very pretty. Salas, as they call them, above lotus
ponds. Of course we went for the air conditioning, but as it was the coolest
night in S.E. Asia (though still in the 80s) and the air conditioning was
actually freezing (I never though I'd hear myself say that about Bangkok) we
could've done the open-air seating. But we were hate-the-heat-and-humidity
tourists like everyone else in the room. What separated us from the rest of
the room, however, was our desire for authentic and hot, hot food.
And I'm afraid that's also what created the most amusement during our
meal. An older gentleman at a table of bossy Middle Eastern gentlemen in the
back of the room, started wheezing and choking and making a huge scene. A
younger man started yelling for water. The older guy had tears running down
his face. I was like is he having a seizure or something? As it turned out
the food was just too spicy. This was completely baffling, and only made me
wonder what he must have ordered. Even more so, when we asked the waitress
about the guy and the food, us commenting that it wasn't really very hot.
She agreed, saying "it's not really Thai food, it's for tourists."
We tried a tasting menu that I think was seven courses, though I can
only seem to recall six, and even those are hazy. We started with pie tee
cups filled with something I can't even remember, followed by a large,
filling serving of tom gai ka. The mains came together: greens with
scallops, penang pork curry, and steamed prawns with herbs. The meal was
finished with one of those icy, black rice, jelly and coconut milk desserts.
We specifically wanted to try the penang curry because we'd made the exact
same dish earlier in the day during our cooking class. There's was certainly
more refined, though I don't think ours was any less tasty.
I enjoyed the experience (I also like in S.E. Asia how there's no
emphasis on wine whatsoever. They don't even ask if you want a drink. I
mean, I like wine, but I always feel pressured when dining in higher price
range restaurants) but I wasn't bowled over. Later, I thought we might've
been better off ordering from the menu because I've heard good things about
particular dishes. But now I know about hotel restaurants and will be able
to resist their appeal the next time I'm in Bangkok, whenever that may be.
Celadon * 13/3
South Sathorn Rd., Bangkok, Thailand