Located right when you step out from Exit 2 of the Surasak BTS (Skytrain) station, the structure housing The Blue Elephant is immediately seen boasting its century-old architecture, looking somewhat French, yet distinctly Thai.
Once you show up at the door, you are welcomed wholeheartedly by the establishment’s staff, gently doing a wai (known in India as Namaste) and greeting sawasdeeka and sawasdeekrub. One is then led to appreciate the beauty of the building’s interior, embellished with cultural icons such as intricate paintings and sculptures. From the anteroom, an old but bold staircase gallery can be seen towards the left, while the dining area can be sighted straight ahead. Upon entering the dining area, one is led to a selection of tables. Once picked, one is sat on the table to his liking and is offered the drinks menu.
Upon opening the drinks menu, one can see a luscious image of Blue Mai Thai, Blue Elephant’s rendition of the classic cocktail comprised of vodka, blue Curacao and exotic fresh fruits. House specialty selections also include Pattaya (fresh orange, pineapple, mango and guava juice), Blue Elephant Ice Tea (heavy gin, rum, vodka, triple sec and lemon juice), and the Blue Elephant Piña Colada (rum, Malibu, pineapple juice and coconut cream served in fresh coconut). Champagne, wine, classic cocktails, Grand Royal Thai cocktails, long shots, mocktails, soft drinks, beers, aperitifs, home-styled vodka, spirits, Thai whisky, whiskies, eaux de vie, calvados, Armagnac, cognac, portwine and sherry, liqueurs, mineral water, fruit juices and freezes were also available. Wanting to sample purer, fresher and cleaner drinks, I opted for the herbal drinks selection. The selection included drinks such as lemongrass and roselle, and drinks I’ve never heard of such as Matoom and An Chun. I believe roselle is the same as, or very similar to, Malaysia’s sirap drink.
Intrigued by the server’s recommendation, I ordered An Chun which is made from butterfly pea. It promised a smooth and refreshing flavor, as well as a cool natural body to it. First sip and it delivered – I was hooked!
Since I visited the restaurant on a Friday during lunch time, they had a business lunch set meal. The meal menu, delicately placed on the table in a clothed hardbound folder, read the following:
As an introduction to Thai Cuisine,
we recommend you our well balanced and worthy set menu.
This will allow you to sample a little of several different dishes.
Khang Khao Phuek
A golden deep-fried Taro pastry, served with sweet spices
Som Tam Kai Yang
The popular hand shredded spicy raw papaya salad with grilled chicken
Special Tom Seb Salmon
A traditional north eastern style spicy soup with salmon and fresh herb
Tom Yam Koong
The Thai’s famous spicy prawn soup prepared in a shrimp bouillon. Refined and powerful!
Typical dish from South Thailand of slowly braised New Zealand lamb in medium spicy rich gentle sauce
Slices of grilled duck breast, served “medium rare” topped with Royal Project exotic passion fruit sauce
All the flavour of seafood with fresh coconut milk and curry paste
Quick stir-fried morning glory with crushed chilli and oyster sauce
Steamed Jasmine Rice & Wild Rice
Two Scoops of Ice-cream on Your Choice
Star gooseberry, Santol, Black seasame, Wild mulberry, Custard apple, and Chocolate
Impressed, I ordered.
While waiting for the food, I was given a mouthful of fruit cocktail served on a shot glass. To put things into perspective, it’s more of a rich fruit punch than the fruit cocktail that we know as canned by Del Monte.
The starters together with the soup arrived and here’s how it looked like:
I immediately dove into the Special Tom Seb Salmon soup. My eyes widened as I had the first spoon. It tasted somewhat like sinigang but much richer, more flavourful and with more body. The pieces of salmon in the soup were carefully selected belly parts wherein the mixture of meat and the layer of fat is just right, melting in your mouth. The Som Tam Kai Yang was very good as well, providing that tangy taste, increasing one’s appetite.
I finished off the starters with Khang Khao Phuek. It was crisp on the outside, amazingly soft on the inside, full of taro fragrance.
As I was waiting for the main courses to arrive, to my delight, I was served some complimentary snacks. The medley consisted of a mouthful pumpkin soup, a spoon of prawn salad, and their twist of an open fried wanton. I was getting excited!
Upon the arrival of the main course, each dish was introduced and the server, carrying a basket of rice, asked which rice I’d prefer – Jasmine Rice or Wild Rice (brown rice). I chose to sample both. The Jasmine Rice was just awesome – its fragrance, softness and stickiness were right on the spot. The Wild Rice not only looked nutritious, it also tasted nutritious!
Both rice can be eaten by themselves without the need for dishes or sauces.
When each of the covers of the main courses were opened, I was surprised with the amount of food in front of me! It was like I was having a feast! It was like, I was really a king!
I took a bit of sauce from the Massaman Lamb and had it with the Jasmine Rice. Needless to say, I was instantly transported to another world! The creamy and rich taste of the sauce reflected the goodness of the lamb it was meant for. The lamb meat itself was so soft and flavourful that it showed how much effort was put into preparing the dish.
The Ped Saowaros was amazing as well with hints of passion fruit flavor both very fresh and very grand – organic food at its best. The Seafood Soufflé provided a rush down my spine as the curry used in it exploded upon contact with my taste buds. The quick-stir-fried Morning Glory had a fresh farm aroma to it and provided for my vegetable needs for that meal.
Stuffed and having the feeling of just coming from a banquet hosted by King Chulalongkorn, I had just a bit more space for dessert. Wanting to try something different, I got a scoop each of Wild Mulberry and Custard Apple ice cream. The former tasted like a light and sweet strawberry ice cream while the latter tasted like custard cake. Just perfect!
At this point, I was just in cloud nine.
The bill arrived in a very interesting fashion – it was in a Blue Elephant jar! They had no problem accepting my BDO ATM Debit Card.
The price tag for this meal was 590 THB exclusive of 10% service charge and applicable government taxes. Needless to say, it was worth every cent!
In the next few days, I found myself returning to the same restaurant and welcomed in an even warmer fashion. But, that’s for another blog post. :)
Martin Gomez is a guest blogger for Manila Foodistas. He specializes in the culinary flavours of Asia and dreams of becoming a full-time connoisseur.