Thai-born chef Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava and Australian-born chef Dylan ‘Lan’ Jones runs the kitchen at Bo.Lan. The guide Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by San Pellegrino and Aqua Panna, have them on the list, and they recently got a Michelin Star. They serve delicious food with high quality ingredients and I wouldn’t hesitate a minute to call for a visit, but it isn’t one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants. On the other hand, it’s a rather good deal price wise for a “fine dining” experience.
The quotes in “fine dining” is mostly referring to the one locker at the mens room where you can cue and take part in a magical number of sounds from whatever creature that is occupying the room, ranging from a cornet type of sounds created by strong pressure to the more lively giving up life by something being slaughtered inside the box. At least it gave the three of us cuing a reason to start a conversation.
Bo and Lan is husband and wife and they met at Nahm in London run by David Thomson, a Michelin Star restaurant that closed some years ago. The same guy running Nahm in Bangkok. Anyway Bo and Lan have plenty of experience with fine dining. This time I went to bo.lan with a friend of mine, actually some time ago (before they got the star) and we both had the 1200 ++ bath set lunch.
The main focus is on Thai food, including some traditional recipes. The presentations on the other hand, has a European touch to it, which is a good thing when it comes to fine dining. Personally, I have on my earlier visits found the food to be on the border to deserve a Michelin star taste wise, as they haven’t always been consistant. That said, I am happy they got it. What we got this time at bo.lan was also far beyond what many French or Belgium restaurants serves with the same star.
My slight hesitation to whether they deserve a star or not, is actually not a criticism of bo.lan. It’s a criticism of the Michelin guide not giving out stars to quite a few hole in the walls serving even better food in the City of Angels. Anyway Bo.Lan deserves the attention it gets from the guide. It’s more a question if the guide can be taken seriously on the street food scene, which it can’t as per today. So far, the prices at bo.lan are kept stable after receiving the star and the lunch menu it’s a good deal in my view.
In my view, bo.lan cater more for the western crowd than locals or Thai’s, but at least they are good ambassadors for fine dining Thai food and you won’t leave bo.lan with a feeling of being robbed or thinking you had a bad meal. Most likely you leave bo.lan quite happy to have tasted some new combinations being prepared by highly skilled chefs.
The food we got spanned from good to excellent, with the Salad of Kirby cucumber and grilled mackerel as the highlight. It had a very good acidity and the cured fish had a good and juicy bite. The egg was complementing the dish both taste and texture wise. I didn’t ask, but I suspect the half egg to be a duck egg and not chicken egg, as the color was very orange. The stir-fried herbal-fed chicken with coconut palm heart had a welcoming spiciness to it. The red curry with prawn was good, balancing the sweetness so it didn’t overrun the other flavors. The clear soup was good as well, but slightly boring. My presumption is that it is meant to be eaten in between the other dishes to clean up your mouth. In general I found the flavors sharp and distinct and balancing each other. I will definitively go back for another visit.
Bo.lan have focus on keeping a zero carbon footprint, implying that they have built their own vegetable garden, a water filling system and a waste recycling scheme. In other words, the food is organic. The zero footprint approach has been popular at some restaurants inEurope, but I hope the attention from the Michelin Guide inspire others to follow here in Bangkok as well.
Bo.lan has a rustic wooden Thai House atmosphere. They have a good selection of Thai beer that we didn’t taste, as we went for half a bottle of Thai wine to share. Decent but pricy as wine in general is in Thailand. The cocktails are refreshing and made with quality ingredients. The outside and former pool on the other hand looked abandoned in daylight, not inviting to look at the garden. I presume this will change during dinner time when things lightens up.
Price: 1200++ bath per person for lunch set menu. Dinner is from 2280 bath for the brief version to 3280++ for the balance menu. 7% + 10 % tax is added.
Open: Lunch is Sat – Sun 12.00 pm to 2.30 pm (last order). Dinner is Tue – Sun 6.00 pm to 10.30 pm (last order)
Phone: +66(2) 260 2961, +66(2) 260 2962
Address: House number 24 Soi Sukhumvit 53 (Soi Pai dee ma dee)
How to get there: Take the BTS to Thong Lor and walk from there.