Friday, August 23, 2013

Nothing sloppy about Paste, Bangkok

Prawn, galangal peanut relish and pomelo on betel (cha-plu) leaves 
It's a funny coincidence that I'm writing up this blog post in Sydney, because this was the city that the chef-owners behind Paste were before opening earlier this year (well, calling it Sydney is probably a stretch, as they were in Mittagong). We came on the recommendation of fellow food & travel writer Gloria @foodandtravelhk, who described Paste's steamed rice as the most fragrant thing ever (well, the literal translation was "so fragrant it has no friends" that's Cantonese slang for you). If they can make plain ol' steamed rice worth talking about, then it was good enough for us.

Pulled chicken with 5 Asian vegetables, dressed in a smoked fish and chilli jam relish
We were off to a rocking start with the betel leaves in the opening pic. It was just a 1-2 bite thing, but those bites were nothing short of genius - they exploded with what seemed like every conceivable flavour and texture on the face of the earth, and all done in a perfectly balanced manner.

The second starter, pulled chicken salad, was also a flavour bomb. The creamy nuttiness of the sauce and moreish twang of smoked fish were highlights, foiled nicely by the freshness and al dente texture of the julienned veg.

Jasmine and cinnamon smoked wild sea bass with black vinegar, mint and crushed peanuts
Smoking in the case of one of our mains, the sea bass, was less successful. We reckon it spent a little too long in the smoker, maybe; it was like having your head stuffed into the smoker. It was definitely too strong for the fish, a shame as it was cooked perfectly - delicate to the point of pillowy.

Tamarind and caramel twice-cooked pork belly with green mango, okra, basil, green chilli pickle
The problem with the pork belly wasn't the dish itself, which was perfectly fine - it was that we, a party made up of 4 Cantonese girls, couldn't help but think that it was "just" pork braised with black vinegar and sugar (糖醋排骨), a pretty regular Canto/Shanghainese homecooked dish. Obviously I forgot to do my homework for Lesson #362 in Learning to Read Between the Lines when it comes to modern menus...

Oh, and the plain steamed rice was pretty indeed special. From the distinctive fragrance emanating from the bowl, my guess would be that it was steamed with jasmine flowers (probably buds) or water infused with them.

While it isn't as swanky as Nahm and Bo.lan, food-wise Paste is certainly up there with these big boys, so book now before it becomes impossible.

120/6 Sukhumvit Soi 49,
(Opposite Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital)
+66 (0)2 392 4313

1 comment:

  1. Rice steamed with jasmine flowers sounds like a good idea! Maybe I'll try that out some time. Too bad I won't be in Bangkok any time soon...