Monday, August 08, 2011
Fusion or confusion
A visiting friend stayed at Le Meridien Hotel on Surawong Road. We did dinner pretty late after a day of business meetings and a little bit of shopping. At almost 10 pm, most decent restaurants were closed. Since choice was not on our side and we were pretty hungry, for convenience we picked a bar, cum restaurant, across the street (from his hotel) to comfort our stomachs.
It was Baruza, a bar, a beer house, a Thai restaurant (proclaimed traditional Thai cuisine), a steakhouse and a Japanese fusion eatery under the same roof, all dishes cooked by the same chef. The interior is very Tokyo's Shinjuku feel (as it is investment from Japan), and the bill is of Tokyo standard - in Bangkok this means quite pricey.
We opted for Thai food that Baruza proclaimed is traditional and ended up worse than any tourist-palate-friendly standard, with a lack of any trace of authentication. I wonder if the chef uses purified sugar in stead of palm sugar in the kitchen. We ordered six dishes for a table of three persons (my visiting friend, my personal aide, and me). We started with somtum Thai (spicy shredded raw papaya salad, THB 130+); the salad was decorated with a piece of lettuce that made it seems funny, and taste lacked of any depth, not pungent hot, but very salty. Next dish was tord mun goong or deep-fried minced shrimp paste cakes (THB 150+), the color of the shrimp cake was nice, but the texture was too mashed-like, and pork belly seemed to be the main ingredients, not ground shrimp as they should be in a good balance. The next dish, was stir-fried chicken fillet with cashew nuts, for THB 220+ the portion of chicken and cashew nuts was thrifty, and the taste was ultra MSG enhanced.
We almost would like to leave the table to keep our taste-buds from suffering, but we needed to finish our order. We asked for fried fish, like the popular sea bass or grouper, but to no avail. The only fish available there was tabtim fish. It is a kind of fresh water fish developed locally by CP Farms and the cost is around THB 40 per fish at Tesco Lotus; decent restaurants don't have tabtim fish on the menu, while open-air pochanas or khao tom joints may offer it at around THB 100 to THB 150 per fish. At baruza it was THB 390+. The deep-fried tabtim fish appearance made me think of an over-sized cockroach, deep-fried in overnight cooking oil! Before we were free to have a cup of coffee, we needed to finish two more dishes, tomyumgoong (sour and spicy soup with prawn, THB 220+) and stir-fried seafood in yellow curry sauce (THB 290+). The tomtumgoong again had lack of depth in taste and was quite salty; the stir-fried seafood in yellow curry sauce would be better renamed to stir-fried vegetables in yellow curry sauce.
After dinner we went to Starbucks, the three of us never thought that drinks and pastry at Starbucks can be such a treat!
Baruza Restaurant **
135/18 Surawongse Road
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Open daily : 11 - 1 am
Pay (food only for two): around THB 1,300 (Thai food)