The Art Of Thai Cuisine
Som Chai Bar & Restaurant, the latest addition by renowned Chef Will Meyrick, serves Thai Food in a setting that takes you back to the 1920s...
Som Chai is where art deco is highly regarded in both fashion and building, with beautiful women wrapped in cheongsam walking around. The setting of the new dining venue by Sarong Group made me feel as if I was in an old Siam City, forgetting that I was actually in the busy area of Jalan Raya Kerobokan in Seminyak.
It was 6.30 p.m., and I was so excited to experience the food that Chef Will Meyrick – the brain behind Mama San, Tiger Palm, Sarong and Hujan Locale – will be presenting in his fifth restaurant in Bali. Dear food enthusiasts, come and join my dining experience at Som Chai...
Sip of Freshness
A bar and a lounge area takes up the front part of the restaurant. When I walked in, I was welcomed with top-notch hospitality by some of the waitresses who were wearing long black cocktail dresses. Dimmed shades of light softly filled every corner of the classic and detailed interior, yet my eyes were caught by a line of swings that were hanging in front of me, especially designed for professional dancers. I personally think that Som Chai bar is quite masculine yet sexy at the same time.
Two dancers wearing cheongsam danced on the swings with soft and slow gestures, giving the perfect ambiance of exclusive nightlife in old Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand. As I took a sit at the lounge which is right next to the bar, I began to think of enjoying a glass of fresh energizing drink to soothe my mind. I walked towards the bar to see their choices of beverages before having my dinner.
My choice fell on Siam Julep amongst the bar’s super tempting lists of cocktails. I felt quite challenged to try this mix as the bartender explained that the drink has a strong yet fresh sour taste that comes from nutmeg, mint and a mix of Italian aromatic spirit; Fernet Branca, Jim Beam, and a little bit of honey. But one sip of the drink assured me. Siam Julep successfully rejuvenated me in an instant!
After half an hour relaxing in the lounge, I decided to start my dinner. The staff led me to a big tall door at the end of the lounge aisle that connected the lounge and bar area to the restaurant. Once the door was opened, I was instantly in awe with the dramatic view of an oriental fine dining room. It was a totally different ambiance from the bar and lounge area.
The restaurant is set with high ceilings, beautifully designed lightings and artsy ornaments that give a dramatic effect and successfully make Som Chai an exceptional dining venue. And the menu is just as interesting. I decided to begin my culinary journey with the Sako Sai Moo from the appetizer list. The grilled half-shell scallops dish was served with flying fish roe, Thai basil, young coconut and green nahm jihm dressing. The scallops were extremely tender and the dressing perfectly pleased my palate.
Moving on to the salad list, I opted for the super-hot “Nam Doc”, a grilled beef dish with red onion, mint flat leaf, and chili lime dressing. The beef was so juicy and tasty, but if you’re not into spicy food be careful with the super-hot red chili that will spark fireworks in your mouth with its bold flavor. A little tip; have a fresh cool beverage next to you so can sip some to lose the hot burning taste, as your dining experience here may not be complete if you miss this dish. My culinary journey continued on with Pla Thot Tha, a delicious unripe mango dish with lime dressing, turmeric lemongrass which I could not stop enjoying until the last drop.
As someone who grew up with Sumatran flavors, I was so tempted by the hot curry selections. I decided to have the Masaman curry that consists of 48-hour slow cooked short ribs beef with young durian, coconut and fried shallots. I am a durian fan but I have never tasted a young durian before. To my surprise, it is amazingly delicious, and the durian does not overpower other elements of the dish, which means this dish can be enjoyed by anyone who is not really a fan of durian too.
The Main Stars
Then, it was time for the main courses. I was up for a fresh fish dish, so I ordered the Bamboo “hor mok” snapper marinated in red curry paste with coconut milk kaffir lime and Thai basil. This dish is highly recommended as the delicate snapper meat is cooked to perfection, and the fragrant from the kaffir lime made the dish even more appetizing.
To enjoy this seafood selection, the waitress recommended to pair it with some steamed rice to balance the savory homemade sauce. But I preferred to indulge it just the way it is without any rice, and I think the dish is sublime! And once the main course was done, it was only right to end my culinary journey here with a dessert like the mango parfait with three flour scented sticky rice and kalamansi, Som Chai’s take on mango sticky rice.
Som Chai Bar & Restaurant
Jalan Raya Kerobokan 86 A, Kuta Utara
By Wiwin Wirwidya
Magazine issue > Dine&Delights