I planned a stop off in Bangkok on my way to Vietnam and Cambodia specifically to eat at Gaggan, a world-renowned, Michelin starred restaurant by an Indian chef, and on Asia’s top 50 list, coming in at 2nd place last year. They allowed me to book 5 months in advance but much to my dismay, he suddenly left the restaurant and took all his staff with him, about a month before my arrival, to open another restaurant in Bangkok only one week after I was to leave the city. Let’s just say I was not amused. Where could I go for a memorable meal on such short notice? I started to do some research and heard a lot of great things about a female chef called Rungthiwa “Fae” Chummongkkon, a native of Chiang Rai, Thailand. After marrying a Danish man, she worked for more than ten years in Europe, and she established herself in three-star Michelin restaurants, including working in Copenhagen.
She came back to Bangkok and is the executive chef set in the heart of the newly opened Waldorf Astoria, at 151 Ratchadamri Road; an absolutely stunning property. Opened in August of 2018, her restaurant is called The Front Room, and this is perhaps the most exciting cuisine to land in Bangkok. She uses seasonal Thai ingredients and Nordic techniques such as pickling, smoking, curing and fermenting to elevate her cuisine.
Chef Fae takes inspiration from her passion for local ingredients and recipes of her childhood. She combines the new with the traditional, and the West with the Far East.
It was quiet the night we dined there, only the private dining room was in use. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves. The restaurant is absolutely stunning and modern, with a Nordic, contemporary feel, it is designed in greens, beiges, and taupe with slab marble, and wooden walls with large picture windows. I kept commenting on how beautiful the glassware, dishes, and silverware were. You could see the owners spared no expense. We could see the large staff at work in the open kitchen. There was nine staff in the kitchen and three to serve us – we felt like royalty.
As soon as we were seated we were immediately welcomed with a nonalcoholic drink made of black sticky rice, infused with honey and lemongrass that was out of this world, before we proceeded with our seven-course meal, a relative bargain at $89 US a person. There were a few amuse extras as well. They also offered a ten-course meal at around $110. Plus juice or wine pairings.
The chef makes her own sourdough bread with black rice that she proofs for six hours. Her butter is made with soya sauce, ten herbs, and salt from the north.
Each dish is artistic, creative and aromatic. Standouts were the crispy pumpkin and Danish chicken salad with a sunchoke crisp, and the carrot stuffed with baked artichokes, and salted celery root in a chili-infused vegetable sauce. I equally adored the caramelized milk skin, lemongrass smoked scallops. The pork cheeks in a fermented black garlic and potato purée, with onion and brown butter jus were also wonderfully prepared. Chef Fae personally served us a couple of dishes and it was a treat to speak with her. We went on to enjoy several desserts and petit fours.
Chef Fae is creating a new level of inspiring cuisine, and I was happy to have chosen her restaurant after I found out I had a free night in Bangkok. Her cooking is very intricate, full of different flavours and textures. We immensely enjoyed our journey from beginning to end. I predict great things happening for Chef Fae, perhaps some Michelin stars in her future?