A hotel restaurant is always challenging – they’re usually stuffy, over priced and the punters (generally rightly) believe they’d get a better dining experience outside. It’s particularly challenging in Bangkok because the hotel is right in the heart of pulsating Patpong, where you can get great food, especially Thai and Japanese at most times of the day.
Bamboo Chic started in Le Meridien Bangkok to tackle these challenges. It actually is a chic experience, using greens, blues and wood tones to create an upmarket atmosphere that’s subdued but exciting, a contrast to the stuffiness associated with other 5 star hotels and bars.
Bamboo Chic Lounge is the official name and sums up the new concept which captures both restaurant and bar. There are two signature cocktails which is really worth a try:
Bamboo Crush is dangerously hypnotic, made from chivas regal, ginger ale, apple juice, sugar syrup and fresh mint. Be warned it’s strong, very strong and very addictive.
Kyoto Martini made from vermouth, gin, midori and lime juice, is dry and constantly chilled thanks to the simple but very effective stylised martini glass in a round glass bowl designed by the hotel’s Food and Beverage Director, Michael Hoevel. The design is now replicated across other Le Meridien’s around the world and I’ve even come across it recently in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Hoevel was charged with the responsibility of implementing the first Bamboo Chic in the world for Le Meridien and by all accounts it has been successful. It’s now rolled out progressively and you can sense the pride Hoevel takes in his baby, his eyes light up when he describes how he came up with the unique martini glass and bowl concept and how he sourced local makers to turn his ideas into reality.
Oh and double kudos to the table munchie surprise of dried ochre as a cheeky play on Japanese edamame, also served in Hoevel’s unique glass.
I turned my attention to the food. Bamboo Chic is both a-la-carte and buffet and specialises in pan-Asian food, with particular emphasis on Thai and Japanese – tourists from Japan make up a significant customer base for both Le Meridien Bangkok and Patpong in general.
I tried two of their signature dishes, the Snowfish and Wagyu Beef. The fish was nicely steamed for dipping into the ying yang sauce of flower bean on one side and hoisin on the other.
Coming from a country that exports beef I was sceptical but this execution is superb; melt-in-your-mouth tender and medium rare (just how I like it), the beef works so well with the nicely flavoured bed of Japanese rice.
Now turning to the buffet. The sashimi was particularly fresh, well prepared, actually better than Hokkaido restaurant just down the road, a real surprise because the other restaurant has a Japanese chef. The oysters at the seafood section was not very fleshy but fresh and had great flavour.
At the buffet you can also select your ingredients and the chef will fry/combine them for you, I had to test it out, while I can eat, I’m no cook or selector of ingredients. I picked Hokkien noodles, prawns, an egg (that will challenge him), cabbage, onion and mushroom and asked for a spicy interpretation.
The chef delivered the finished dish to my table, to which he added fish sauce, lemon and dried shrimp, a particularly ingenious addition that really lifted my bland choice of ingredients. You can see in the video above the chef cleaning the frying surface in spectacular style and also the stunning Bamboo Chic atmosphere.
The final experience for the night was dessert, a petit four of sorts consisting of earl grey pudding, green tea mousse, chocolate ice cream and selection of seasonal tropical fruit. The mousse was less successful, while the pudding and in particular the rich chocolate, which was restaurant made, took me to heaven.
To me, Bamboo Chic tries to break the conventional mold by marrying different things, sometimes complete opposites: bar and restaurant, buffet and a-la-carte, soft lighting but energetic atmosphere, attentive/welcoming but unobtrusive service, relaxed but upmarket, rounded organic shapes with hard angular lines.
Bamboo Chic works particularly well with contradiction, which in a way, mirrors the contemporary Bangkok just outside the hotel doors. And it seems to work, on a Tuesday evening, the place was almost full.
Noodlies dined as a guest of Bamboo Chic.
Additional photos supplied by Le Meridien, thanks Kanchalikar (the low light is too much of a challenge for this photography novice).
Bamboo Chic Lounge
Le Meridien Bangkok
40/5 Surawong Rd, Bangrak
+66 (0) 2232 8888