Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Dusit Thani Bangkok and The Newly Revamped Benjarong Restaurant


A Stay at the Dusit Thani in Bangkok is like coming home. I've been staying at this hotel for over 15 years and since then, I've become attached to this place. Although many newer properties are popping up all over the city, Dusit Thani still manages to hold its own and pampers guests with their signature traditional Thai hospitality. 


It had been more than three years since my last stay so it's surprising when Staff Extraordinaire Ms Busava immediately recognized me from afar. She greeted us with a huge smile, gave me an incredible upgrade to a three-room suite and escorted us upstairs to the executive lounge to check in. 


The Dusit Thani Bangkok gives you luxurious extras such as a pillow menu ( you can choose from a wide selection ) , an aromatic nightly turn down service ( includes aroma burner making the room smell like a spa ) and the use of all facilities such as the state-of-the-art gym and pool. 


The selection of teas ( green tea, black tea and lemon grass ) and coffee is wonderful. I am especially fond of the herbal lemon grass tea, which I can't seem to find anywhere outside of Thailand. 


Since we opted for Club Lounge access, we headed over for complimentary cocktails and savories. The Club Lounge is a beautiful space that's really like heaven on earth. Soft music plays in the background while the gracious staff makes you feel like royalty. 


There was so much to choose from the food selection that we decided to stick to just one small plate. We had dinner reservations downstairs and didn't want to spoil our appetite. Believe me this was quite a difficult thing to do. 


We arrive at the entrance of the new and re-imagined Benjarong Restaurant inside the Dusit Thani Hotel. This has always been one of my go-to restaurants while in town and they never fail to impress me. However since my last visit, the restaurant has gone through a dramatic change. 

The manager insisted I try it out to give her feedback as they are fairly new to the Bangkok restaurant scene. As soon as we settled into our seats, we both order some unique cocktails, like the Lemongrass Mojito you see above. 


The new Benjarong serves New-Wave Thai Cuisine and in a way, it's a risky gamble especially since they used to be known for Royal Thai Cuisine. Still, we kept an open mind and proceeded to order. 

Looking at the appetizers above, you would never think we were at a Thai restaurant. But one taste and the Thai spices and influences are clear. 

The Aromatic Trio that I ordered consisted of Crispy Taro with Tom Yum Flavor, Young Lotus with Aubergine Relish and chicken Sausage on the Bone. 


We ordered two different appetizer samplers, each with different items so that we could share. We both loved the rustic yet very modern look of the presentation. 

The Tasting Journey Trio that my friend ordered includes Deep Fried Cuttelfish with Fresh Turmeric, Spiced Scallop and Papaya in Coconut Milk and Roasted Pork Leg with Smoked Chili Tomato Jam. 

Each bite-sized sampler was unique and different which played with our senses through the variety of taste and texture. 


For the starter course, I decided to go with the Foir Gras and Tamarind Chutney. This was definitely a very complex dish and included bits of fresh pineapple, cubes of ginger and a very unique pineapple foam. Amazingly, the tastes all fit together in perfect harmony. 


The Yam Neau was my friend's starter of choice. The Yam Neau is an updated version of the traditional Thai salad the presentation was absolutely stunning! 

The Yam Neau is a salad of Grilled Wagyu Beef with Dehydrated Tomato, Sweet Melon and Yam Pudding. 


After all the stunning food so far, we were pretty impressed especially with all the thought that went into the smallest detail, such as the tableware they've selected for each dish. 

My main dish of Goong Satay was amazing to say the least. Once again, it was a combination of familiar and new tastes that exploded in my mouth with each bite. The perfectly seared tiger prawns eaten together with the Satay Spice and the sweet Green Sauce. I made sure to linger over this plate. 


The Ped Yang Nam Man Hoi is a Sous Vide Cooked duck Breast with Aubergine, Chinese Chives and Crispy Wonton with Oyster Sauce. This was my friend's main course and once again, the presentation was abstract, new-wave and just stunning. 


Last but not the least, it was time for dessert and once again Benjarong did not dissapoint. Strangely enough, I didn't take notes down for dessert as I was too high up in heaven upon my first bite. 

My friend's dessert was a deconstructed Thai cake with bits of fresh pineapple, cake and coconut ice cream with salted meringue. It's so unique tasting that the first bite confuses the mind, but surprises you the next second with the pleasant harmony of the ingredients. 



Finally, I saved the best for last. In fact I would probably come back just for this humble-looking dessert. Inspired by a traditional Thai cake made with bananas, this deconstructed beauty is perfection in a bowl. Notice the different bowls they've used in both desserts. Absolutely stunning.

I'll try to explain it the best way I can as I was absolutely in a trance devouring this insane dessert. A delicate yet fragrant banana cake lies in a bath of sweet and slightly salty coconut milk, topped with a scoop of creamy ice-cream ( caramel ? ) and freshly dehydrated banana slices.

I am seriously craving this right now even as I'm writing this because it's that good! Period!


As all good things must come to an end, so did our multi-course meal at Benjarong. However we were pleasantly surprised as we were offered a selection of the most wonderful macarons with our lemon grass infusions. With flavors like lemon grass, Thai milk tea and tamarind, even the macarons were wonderfully Thai. 

The new Benjarong Restaurant at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok gets a thumbs-up from the both of us. We love the new direction it's going and although I miss the traditional tastes of the former Benjarong, I believe this is a good thing. 

From the food presentation to the food itself, once again Benjarong has managed to wow me, the most difficult food critique of my generation ( who am I kidding? ;) Everything about Benjarong is about moving forward and it's almost experimental. Yet they manage to retain traditional Thai flavors, traditions and decor throughout the dining experience. 

A big thank you goes out to the Dusit Thani Staff for always welcoming back to their beautiful hotel. It's hard to express in words how thankful I am for your hospitality. 

And a big thank you for reading about my adventures in Bangkok. If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my FREE newsletter, which includes periodical updates as well as exclusives including recipes and so much more!

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