If you have a taste for adventure, or what could be described as a ‘mystery dinner’, consider a private dining date in Bangkok.
Details were confirmed by email well in advance. The meeting point is the smaller of the two lobbies of the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel right beside the River City Complex, in the tourist heartland of Bangkok. We are told to look for a caucasian man in glasses at 7 pm. When we arrived we surveyed the scene wondering who else here would be joining us on our private dining encounter. The three couples, who came from Sydney, Berlin and Vienna, met our host, who introduced himself as Florian. From there it was a relaxing ten minute walk through the dark, narrow back streets of southern Chinatown to the location of Nang Gin Kui (Seating, Eating, Talking) restaurant.
We took the elevator to the 15th floor, slipped off our shoes and arrived at a simply furnished riverside apartment in one of Chinatown’s oldest residential apartment blocks. The first thing we noticed was a magnificent, uninterrupted view of the famous Chao Phraya – the River of Kings and we were welcomed into the home of Florian (an expat architect from Austria) and his Thai chef partner, Goy. The table had been set in advance. We were invited to sit on the cane sofa and chairs or take a seat in front of the enormous open window to chat and be immersed in the warmth and splendour of the Bangkok view, a mesmerising backdrop for our unique event.
The evening started with sparkling wine in hand and the guests took in the breathtaking vista of the Grand Palace, the Temple of Dawn, the rambling grounds of several well known 5 star hotels. We all watched the brightly illuminated river craft ply their way continuously along this busy part of the waterway. This provided the perfect opportunity to learn more about our new friends as we sipped and chatted.
Florian and Goy told us two years ago they had an idea to open a restaurant in their very own Bangkok apartment and within a few days they had their first dinner guests. Nang Gin Kui Private Dining restaurant was launched and is now one of the top things to do in Bangkok, and with good reason.
The concept is a “meet and greet” dinner for up to eight guests on either Thursday or Saturday. The group sits around a traditional Thai style table on colourful floor cushions enjoying great food and meeting new friends from all over the world. The evening is all about informality and hospitality. You are welcome to walk into the tiny kitchen and chat with Goy and her assistants while they add the final touches to the first dish of the 12 course banquet. The preparation area is comprised of an oversized, polished concrete bench covered with cooking implements and semi-prepared ingredients. The kitchen shelves are loaded with jars of exotic oriental spices as well as a rack of culinary cutting and stirring instruments. It was a marvel to watch this tiny Thai chef create her magic on a basic two burner stove.
Florian explains the food is Thai contemporary style, using market fresh and organically sourced ingredients. Goy mixes an array of herbs and spices in her preparation, making each dish aromatic and zesty, but not too fiery. A piquant fusion of fruit, vegetables, meats, citrus and unique Thai tastes which meld sweet, sour and savoury into mouthwatering morsels.
The menu starts with five small entrees. The salmon in spicy sauce and the stir fried sweet herbs served in sugar cane sauce were favourites. Guests then shared incredible crunchy, fresh pomelo salad served in a banana flower. Next was a clear soup with mushrooms, Japanese style.
After sharing some entertaining travel stories and our glasses refilled, the following courses were tender green curry with chicken in young coconut, black pepper stir fried Chinese broccoli, grilled sea food and steamed Dory fish in homemade ginger sauce.
For sweets, Goy and Florian happily served a delicious medium hot coconut milk dessert with sticky rice balls presented in a coconut shell called ‘Bua loi nahm maprao ohn’. Our exotic eating adventure was concluded with fresh seasonal fruit, tea and coffee, and of course, further free flowing wine and beer.
However, the evening wasn’t entirely finished until there had been a flurry of business cards, email addresses and facebook details exchanged among our new friends. The seating, eating, talking dining adventure is one of the most memorable encounters we have had in Bangkok and the night was well worth the all inclusive 3600THB ($120AUD approx) per person bill. This humble apartment is a culinary meeting point for delicious flavours, delightful conversation, and daring new experiences.
There are a great deal of accommodation choices at all levels in Bangkok. The Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers is an excellent five star hotel right on the river. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nang Gin Kui (Seating, Eating, Talking) restaurant call Florian +66 (0) 85 904 6996