Jam at Siri House is Determined to Hit Home
Pursing my lips, I anticipate the fruity sour concoction of bourbon, aperol and amaro down my parched throat. It feels like a kiss from an old lover, filling empty crevices of unfilled expectations and broken dreams with so much intent. My eyes wander across the room filled with opulence, cocktail dresses and suave suits. There is no satire, very little humour and yet food-wise, it’s skittish.
This proud spectacle is brought to you by two local talents: co-owner of Park Bench Deli (their Patty Melts have always been my confidant) Ming Tan and Jeremy Cheok of Garang Grill, who have partnered up to run Jam at Siri House. The end result: a dazzling merger of comfort food meets grill. With the energetic scuttle of the kitchen in full view from the dining room and luscious wafts of browned butter adrift, it’s impossible to keep your ravenous appetite in check.
Thai luxury property developer Sansiri has set up its first overseas extension tucked away in the lush, verdant jungle of Dempsey Hill. Fronting the property is a sales gallery featuring a penthouse with mock balcony overlooking the vibrant Bangkok city and a fake bathroom attached. It allows for a bit of role-playing just before you retire for the night, spurred on by over-indulgence and we need not say, insobriety—an inescapable outcome—thanks to the largesse of bar managers Mark Tay and Yap Hwee Jen.
The lifestyle nexus also means that diners can accidentally stumble into a dynamic art gallery celebrating Thailand’s hottest young artists. A pre-dinner ramble around the sprawling compound might transport you into ‘Another Dimension’—one where Thai street artist, Gongkan advocates a child-like innocence of dropped ice-cream cones and reflective naivety. Peruse the retail space while traversing across to the plush dining room, there are gadgets and gizmos aplenty to keep you entertained. However, the object of envy would be the cupboards themselves that hold the eclectic jewellery, deconstructed and transformed from pre-loved antiques sourced in Bangkok’s markets. Bangkok-based duo Jirawat and Tjin have breathed new life into the forgotten wood, imbuing a neoteric edge with bright and shiny surfaces to steal your breath. I mean, you would want to purchase jewellery for the sake of filling this one up. Unfortunately, it’s not for sale. Shift your optimism to the restaurant.
Chef Ming Tan greets you at the alleyway to the kitchen, with a mischievous smile and a dark as night black chef jacket. “At Jam, we are not shaped by any cuisine. We like to cook food that’s meant for family and friends,” Ming says, a statement that’s perhaps a little hard to swallow given the conflicting setting of defiant lavishness all around. Take a look around the room. Do I need to say more? The restaurant interiors are tempered with Sansiri’s exquisite taste and eclectic style. Petrol blue, mustard yellow, splashes of coral against the dramatic black lacquered backdrop, plush cushioned sofas donning elaborate jacquard motifs that are interspersed with magic carpet rides of Jim Thompson silk. Extravagant doesn’t even begin to cut it. Contradiction begins to plant seeds of cynicism.
He goes on to elaborate. “After spending 2 years as a consultant. I begin to realise the joy of cooking without the pressures of running a restaurant. My goal here is to make homestyle dishes that are ‘zhnged‘”. For what it’s worth, although Chef Ming’s amiable spirit is convincing enough, his culinary prowess reigns supreme and by the end of the meal, I’m bursting at the seams.
Chicken fat cookies crumble to smithereens with little effort, paving the way for a smudge of garlic, ginger cream cheese and crispy chicken skin that deliver a full-on flavour assault. Specials are the order of the day here at Jam, and an Irish oyster comes with lime and chili granita, reminiscent of the piquant chili sauce that accompanies the ubiquitous orh lua (oyster omelette).
There’s nothing rudimentary about the Scallop carpaccio, cut impressively thick to expound on the essence of the hand-dived catch sourced from North Hokkaido. It is littered with a killer line-up of ingredients that include a subtle yuzu and truffle dressing, sautéed spring onions, kizami kombu and wild caught trout roe; an extravagant combination that’s a dream playlist of sweet and savoury, the kind that makes you walk with a spring in your step even on the most grinding of days.
Jam at Siri House advocates a trolley cocktail service, a forgotten style of service that minimises inconvenience and in turn may just be the reason for your impending headache the next morning. Bottled cocktails are handcrafted in small batches and dispensed in 70ml pours to titillate the palate prior to dining. Word of advice, BEWARE! The Siri House Negroni powered with Thai red tea infused gin is one that you can power through with zero consequence until you get up to make a toilet run.
Another encouraging dish would be the Hasselback potatoes with mala mayo, scattered with salted beef lardons. Carbs and Fat on top of yolks galore. You might want to have a gentle chat with your dietician afterwards, or have boy band 98 Degrees serenade you “Give me just one night, una noche”. The guilt can wait.
Just when you think the caesar salad has the ability to offset the damage, it’s obvious that the kitchen has implemented the same ‘comfort food’ profile to the greens. It’s a decadent party of butterhead lettuce, Jamon iberico de bellota and crispy fish sauce egg floss melded together with an aged Vietnamese fish sauce dressing for an edge of piquancy. You wouldn’t want to share.
From the restless menu, Tuna Tartare is given a seeing-to by yellowfin tuna loin cured in soy and miring for 12 hours till the proteins are denatured to acquire a slightly sticky bite. It sits below spring onion oil and grapes to sweeten things up. Continuing in the same leg of success, the dinner special: Drunken Argentine Langostino is doused in shaoxing wine; the glorious detail of crispy prawn heads alongside Har ji (prawn roe) well-deserving of a standing salutation.
And if the meal is starting to sound like some sort of sick fairytale, the Iberico pork comes along to pull the carpet from beneath your feet. Charcoal grilled pork with stone fruit compote and roasted almonds, is it Christmas already? The Pappardelle comes swiftly to the rescue. The crustacean sauce derived from an ungodly amount of time spend slaving over the stoves with prawn heads and shells is almost remedial, coating the homemade pasta with warm ferocity that’s akin to new love under the sheets. It also comes with pan roasted tiger prawns and mussels which effectively ups the marginal utility. Sod the diet, as along comes the Prime rib Naturally there’s an intensely flavoured crust which forms the bedrock for shio and kombu butter; there is nothing dainty about this dish and similarly, you approach it with guns blazing.
At this juncture, you want to call a time-out. Muscle on. The pavlova promises to go easy on your protruding gut. It’s a sure-fire winner of Swiss meringue clouds, yuzu curd and a magnificent sour cream ice cream which doesn’t even have the time to slide off on to the plate before it’s demolished. Pastry Chef Charis Wong also went the whole nine yards with a generous second serve of ‘Pineapple Tart’ that is all kinds of loveliness, breaking down our much-loved Chinese New Year snackage into its delightful components—pineapple jelly, spice roaster pineapple, brown butter ice cream and brown butter sable.
As I depart the restaurant, with utmost effort up the slope from dinner, the torches lining the pathways bring to mind a scene out of Survivor. The tribe has spoken. No torches are snuffed out tonight, because Jam at Siri House is definitely not packing their knives and leaving anytime soon.