Thien Duong @ the Dusit Thani
While TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) promotes Thailand as the World’s Kitchen in its recent years campaign, Bangkok gradually became a worldwide gourmet capital, gourmet from around the globe must be able to be well prepared in local eateries. One of four major Asian cuisines is Vietnamese, besides Chinese, Japanese and Indian. Vietnamese cuisine has planted a long root in Thai food culinary arts; while some Thai dishes may be influenced by the Vietnamese, some may be familiar to each other.
Without a meal of Vietnamese food couldn’t make my gourmet tour in the gourmet capital, Bangkok, with satisfaction. Luckily we were therefore arranged to sample one of the best hotel’s Vietnamese food in Bangkok, at Thien Duong in the renowned 5-star Dusit Thani Hotel. Classic and classy a mix of French and Vietnamese was the first impression when I entered the restaurant, so I expected the price was not easy. Browsing at the menu the food variety was essential and surprisingly the price was much below a 5-star hotel restaurant should have charged. One of the friends on our dining table had extensive knowledge in Vietnamese food as he had 2 Vietnamese (ex)girlfriends in San Francisco for a total of 10 years. So we let him decide our dinner that night.
Before any eating action, a chilled Fresh Lemongrass Juice couldn’t be missed, but my friends preferred some Red Wine. Well it did make good sense to have red wine to accompany a journey of Vietnamese dining as taste was quite strong since heavy use of herbs, deep-fried onion flakes, and spices were popular in Vietnamese cooking.
The first order was the Thien Duong Khai Vi B260++ (a 4-kind hors d’oeuvre of Goi Cuon or fresh spring rolls, Bo La Lot or beef wrapped in Good King Henry leaves, Chao Tom or fried minced shrimp on a sugarcane skewer, Nem Nuong or charcoal grilled pork balls). It was wonderful to have these combination to start the dinner.
Further we had Cha Gio B210++ (deep-fried spring rolls stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp, and pork), eating them wrapped in lettuce with more vegetables and Dipping, therefore there was a big bowl of Fresh Vegetables (Thai basil leaves, holy basil, mint, fitweed, lettuce, and cucumber) being served; the taste was aromatic enough but the freshness of meat was not overpowered by the seasoning, the chef simply made a good balance in the ingredients and her skill.
Came after cha gio were, Goi Ngo Sen B170++ (budding lotus stem salad with shrimp), taste was difference from the yum (Thai salad) with inviting taste of sour and sweet; Banh Cuon Thit Lon B250++ (steamed Viernamese rice flour sheets filled with minced pork and shrimp), a popular dish on Vietnamese dining table; and (5) Bun Hoi (grilled pork marinated with lemongrass and herbs served on a bed of steamed vermicelli), pork was so tender and tasted good with full aroma from the herbs, however, Thien Duong version did not serve with Cha Gio of which usually included on the dish. Followed were the waitperson's recommendation, Thit Thien Duong B360++ (lemongrass skewered beef tenderloin with green peppercorns) and Chim Bo Cal Chim Goin B550++ (deep-fried pigeon dipped with black pepper salt and lime juice); however, not impressive. The supposed to be tendered beef tenderloin turned out a bit hard-to-chew, and the pigeon had lost the taste of the naturally sweet of the bird instead full of a deep frozen accent and seasoning.
Pho, the Vietnamese flat noodle in soup, is always my favorite dish when dine in a Vietnamese restaurant. So I didn’t miss the Pork Pho B170++ (Vietnamese rice noodle soup with pork meat) and the Chicken Pho B170++ while beef pho may be more popular among Vietnamese diners. Canh Chua B195++ (Vietnamese fisherman's soup with prawns, mussels, fish and mushrooms) was a delightful substitute for something other than pho.
For desserts we ordered Banh Dua (green tea custard with sesame wafer), and Cheo Thong (mung (green) bean with tapioca). Both were not outstanding but good point was they were not too sweet compared to Thai desserts.
Thien Duong and the Dusit Thani have an extensive selection of wines for diners.
Thien Duong Vietnamese Restaurant ***1/2
Upper lobby, Dusit Thani Hotel Bangkok
946 Rama 4 Road
Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand
Open daily : lunch 11:30 am - 2 pm, dinner 6 - 10 pm
Pay (food only for two): around THB 1,500