Updated: May 17
Restaurant POTONG or POTONG, a famous restaurant in Yaowarat, Chinatown, has reached No. 35 on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list this year. The restaurant continues highlighting Chef Pam - Pichaya Soontornyanakij's nostalgic childhood memories. POTONG's recently-launched tasting menu reflects Chef Pam's personal connection with her roots and her relationship with the district. Recently, Chomp had a chat with Chef Pam. The interview is available here if you want to get to know her before we start with the review.
As Chomp set foot into the iconic building, once a Chinese medicinal remedy house owned by Chef Pam's ancestors, the staff welcomed us with housemade kombucha and a small bite before taking the lift up to the top floor to eat another small bite of housemade Chinese sausage paired with white wine.
We savoured the bite, wine, and mesmerising view of the Yaowarat district for a while before climbing down the stairs to the 3rd floor. We stopped before the main kitchen window for a petite "kitchen bite", a stuffed fried bao.
Then a staff took us to our table and served the next dish called "dear", a bite-size jelly made of orange from Fang district in Chiang Mai and white chocolate served with cream cheese leaf drizzled with wild chrysanthemum honey and smoked with cinnamon sticks. The bite was rich, sweet and tangy. The leaf was sour and sweet, also smoky and floral.
The following course consisted of a variety of bites, each made of different parts of the palmyra palm. This course highlights the importance of sustainability by utilising all parts of the plant, from fruit, juice, and shoot.
The next course was a dish called "alive". It consisted of fresh oysters from Surat Thani, served with a black seafood sauce and topped with black vinegar caviar. The oysters were accompanied by a clear soup with cilantro and kombu oils. The savoury taste of the seafood sauce complements the oysters well, while the soup helps to cleanse the palate. Overall, it is a delicious and refreshing dish.
"reincarnated" was the next course Chomp tried. A crab shell and a claw stuffed with shredded crab meat topped with sea grapes, a brioche, a pair of tongs and a butter knife were placed in front of us. We turned the crab shell and saw the two kinds of emulsion hind inside the crab shell's cavities. The orange emulsion was made of crab roe. The brown emulsion was black pepper emulsion. We tried everything separately first, then tried the crab roe emulsion, crab meat and sea grapes on the brioche. Later, we replaced the crab roe emulsion with the black pepper emulsion. The best way to eat this course is to combine everything together.
We cleansed the palate with "beautiful", a bite-sized jujube or Chinese date and finger lime granita. It was refreshing and did its purpose so well. Jujube is a fruit that plays quite a role in Thai-Chinese and can be found in Yaowatrat's market.
We continued with "sacred", a dish of abalone, grated shrimp yolk, Chinese morel and yin-yang egg noodles hiding under a black pasta sheet topped with Hua Hin caviar. The taste reminded us of a local staple called Goy-See-Mee, noodles in slightly sour gravy.
For the next course, three dishes were prepared using a pomfret as the main ingredient. These dishes included a mooncake, a row of dehydrated fishbone, and a lump of dry-aged fish meat served with ginger jus and caramelised sunchoke soup.
The main course was "community", a 14-day-5-spice aged duck, duck's brain and heart accompanied with mapo tofu, Chinese Brussels sprout and various condiments on a specially made lazy susan. A clay pot rice was also served in this course. Everything in this course was exquisitely done. They were rich in flavours, and each dish was different in texture. The one that surprised us the most was the duck's brain, made as a paste and stuffed back into the head. It was buttery, creamy, salty and sweet in the end.
After the main course, Chomp enjoyed "layers of flavours" consisting of three sorbets with different flavours. The three sorbets were made using Tubtim Siam pomelo - green from the peel, yellow from the pith, and pink from the meat. They cleansed the palate from all the fat and lingering tastes from the previous course.
"history" was another dessert that followed. A round piece of biscuit covered a quenelle of lemon ice cream, chrysanthemum-infused mousse and jelly. The sourness and freshness of the lemon ice cream balanced the sweetness and Chrysanthemum character. This course reflected Song Wat Road, the Spice & Herb Road of Yaowarat District.
Before the end of the meal, "legacy", petit fours of a black sesame rice ball, tea ganache, and deconstructed sour mango with caramel fish sauce served on a miniature cart, represented the Yaowarat Road. The cart was also equipped with a music box that played the sounds of Yaowarat Road, creating a unique and surreal experience.
Lastly, the staff hold a Chinese medicinal cupboard for us to pull out a drawer. Inside every drawer of the cupboard, there was a fortune cookie.
For those who wish to book a table for this multi-awarded restaurant, it is recommended that you book a table 3-4 months ahead of time. Rest assured, the wait will be worth it. Restaurant POTONG Hours: Thursday-Monday, 17:00-23:00
Reserve: +6682 979 3950 Website: https://www.restaurantpotong.com/
Location: 422 Vanich1 Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100