Blue Elephant: Thai Cuisine Worth Trumpeting
I have visited Bangkok on countless occasions, and patronised many wonderful restaurants there; somehow though, the Blue Elephant had always eluded me. I had been told, perhaps misinformed, that the Thai cuisine of this restaurant was created for the palate of the “farang” (foreigners). Prizing authenticity, I therefore had no sense of urgency to go try their food. More recently, however, some Thai friends suggested having lunch at the restaurant, and I’m glad to report that I was disabused of my original misconception.
The first pleasant impression that greeted me was the sight of the building that housed the restaurant. It was a hundred-year-old three storey colonial mansion that had been well restored in the business district of Sathorn. The interior was well furnished. The walls of the dining area were adorned with framed newspaper clippings, paintings and photographs. It was like stepping into the living room of a past owner from the aristocratic class.
This welcoming feeling certainly puts you in the mood for good food, and The Blue Elephant did not disappoint in this regard. For starters we had Chef Nooror’s Thai-Belgian Croquette, Prawn cakes with Pomelo Salad and the Larb Salmon.
Highly-celebrated Chef Nooror Somany, who has many accolades and awards to her name married her Belgian husband Karl Steppe and together started the Blue Elephant Group in Brussels in 1980. Thus the croquette dish was a fusion of two national backgrounds. The organic prawns cocooned in a pear-shaped croquette came sitting on parsley in a trio of cups. Croquette in French means crunch. Each bite into the crisp croquette was delightfully crunchy.
The prawn cakes looked ordinary but they tasted good. Larb is known as a meat salad. For Larb salmon, cubes of raw salmon were thoroughly mixed with a host of ingredients that included, lemongrass, garlic, coriander, shallots and chopped mint leaves. With the addition of the fish sauce and chili, it was a wonderful appetiser.
For the main courses I opted for two curries. The first was Crab Curry with Betel Leaves, a spicy Phuket specialty. The crab came de-shelled and the flesh in turmeric complemented the small mounds of steamed rice noodles. You cannot dine at Blue Elephant without trying Chef Somany’s signature .Massaman with Lamb and Sweet Purple Potatoes. This is prepared in Massaman curry paste and cooked in coconut milk, tamarind juice and palm sugar. The dish was enhanced by the addition of sweet purple potatoes and roasted nuts. Purple potatoes are high in antioxidants. From the health standpoint, I did not feel that guilty tucking into two lovely curry dishes in one sitting.
Desserts are a strong suit of this restaurant. If you cannot make up your mind, the wait-staff will recommend the Star Of Siam, which is a platter of several homemade desserts, comprising durian and mango cheese cakes, a tiny date cake with almond flakes, as well as sticky rice and coconut ice cream. It was certainly a sweet ending to a highly satisfying meal, paired with excellent service.