For the past couple months, as I biked through Dragon Stadium, I’ve been noticing a new Thai restaurant taking shape on the north side of the outer ring. The green sign on the building said Thai seafood hotpot restaurant and I began imagining the enticing combination of fresh seafood with aromatic Thai herbs. Then, when More Magazine got invited to a soft opening tasting there, I was very happy. Then I was even happier when I learned that a Thai celebrity chef who had worked in Michelin star restaurants in England, Thaninthorn Chantrawan, had created the recipes for this restaurant’s hotpot soup base. And by the time I heard that the man himself would be present that night to cook a few dishes for us, well it was like Christmas had come early.
In Chef Thaninthorn’s 14 year career, he had already worked in top London restaurants such as Momo and Sketch, and under such culinary superpowers as Gordon Ramsay in Mayfair, London and Heston Blumenthal at the legendary The Fat Duck. Returning to Thailand, he stirred up the dining scene in Bangkok with his brand of modern molecular Thai cuisine at restaurant Osha. He also had a stint on the TV show Thai Iron Chef as the Iron Chef for modern Thai cuisine. Most recently, this December he will be one of the chefs cooking a course for the awards ceremony dinner to announce the inaugural edition of Michelin’s Bangkok guide.
For Qingxiang, Chef Thaninthorn created 2 special hotpot soup bases. One is a fiery orange Tom Yum (曼谷冬阴功锅底，68RMB) and the other is a coconut milk soup similar to Tom Kha (清迈原汁椰浆锅底， 68RMB) with fragrant galangal and lemongrass. He made some adjustments to these traditional Thai soups to create new, refreshing flavours. For example, the sourness of his Tom Yum comes not only from lemons but green mango as well.
Try the wonderful soups by themselves first before you start cooking seafood in it so you can appreciate the taste. Then when you cook the lobster, scallops, prawns, etc. in the soup they will be infused with the flavours and you hardly need to use the dipping sauces at all. Though having said that, the dipping sauces are also stellar. The orange coloured sauce (泰式蘸碟, 6RMB) is garlicy and sour while the green one (青象密制蘸碟, 6RMB) is herbaceous with mint and cilantro.
In between gorging on plate after plate of sumptuous seafood, Chef Thaninthorn shared with us tales about how Gordon Ramsay once threw a plate of risotto on him because it didn’t meet his high standards, or how he survived the grueling dinner service at Momo, a herculean feat where only 4 chefs cooked the entire service for the 90 seat restaurant every night.
At the very end of the evening, Chef Thaninthorn went into the kitchen to cook us a lobster Thai salad, a seafood bouillabaisse with 3 different kinds of basil and a Pad Thai. I have eaten my fair share of Pad Thai and this one was definitely high-class. Every element reached its ultimate expression – the firm texture of the rice noodles, the balance of sour, spicy, salty and sweet, and the prawns cooked to perfect doneness.
Though you won’t be able to eat the Pad Thai that Chef Thaninthorn cooks, you are able to have the hotpot soup he created at Qingxiang. The menu is Chinese only, but you can easily check mark the seafood, meat and vegetable ingredients you want to order. There are some convenient ingredient sets created for 2-3 people at 198RMB up to 8 people at 898RMB. The menu also includes Thai desserts and curries.