It’s as if the good weather and the constant threat of protests have made it especially reasonable to hop to neighborhoods further away in order to chase down the buzz created by a new restaurant. So taking advantage of the light traffic, I found myself swooping into Le Du for dinner, just in time to grab the last available table.
I would have been there sooner, but I made the mistake of entering the mostly deserted Silom Soi 7 from the section of the soi which empties into Silom Rd. From there the walk down the dimly lit street is reminiscent of the shady streets I’ve walked in search grannies hawking MSG injected noodles or some awfully rare, yet delicious cultural cuisine.
You may also venture down this soi in search of Le Du because heard rumors of young, pedigreed Thai chefs working hard to impress people with a unique-ish dining concept. The restaurant, whose name means ‘season’ in Thai, offers a choice of four course (990 THB) or seven course (1590 THB) tasting menu. The menu itself is a bit confusing and does little to prepare diners’ expectations nor further the seasons motif. I inquired about the menu and found out the young proprietors hope to change the menu bi-monthly and offer special menus for holidays and auspicious occasions.
‘Tis the season for ambitious young chefs, bistro style interiors, large open kitchens and wine littered bars.
The first plate of the flurry sent me mixed signals. The less than salivatory description of ‘alliums soup’ was selected and as advertised was a bit underwhelming in taste. Since we already know cold soup in Bangkok is a hard sell, I thought the chefs could have made a better first impression with less risky dish. On the other hand, bravo to the chefs for not putting another lobster bisque or foie gras something-or-other on plates. This dish does need to pack more of punch though.
Despite the stuttering start, however, the courses which followed were impressive and well paired with wine. All of the meats were well cooked and delicate in the right places, such as their fragile “Oyster Two Ways” and seared grouper which comes with an entourage of flavors from the bacon XO, celery emulsion, galangal nave— but it’s the simplicity of the perfectly prepared fish which stands out most.
The flavor of the tender kurobuta strips were accentuated by the medium bodied and flavorful red wine (2009 Chateau Bellevue La Foret from Fronton, France) had me ready to skip dessert for another plate!
Overall the kitchen tends to lean toward spring as their season of choice, playfully sprawling dishes on plates interlaced with greenery, most often leaves, flower buds, and petals. Although they flirt with certain Thai flavors, there aren’t too many overt allusions to Asian food, and spice with any formidable heat was most notably missing (could have, for instance, really given a boost to the soup).
The menu doesn’t give options for wine, so having wine with dinner means a blind pairing. But if you come here and avail yourself helplessly at the feet of their handsome chef-sommelier, Chef Ton, shouldn’t you be drinking the wines that make your heart flutter most? (Otherwise you could be at home sandwiched between overdue writing assignments and your close friends ‘cheap Pete‘ and ‘No Money’ Mont Clair.) In my conversation with him, Chef Ton confessed he loved new world wines and I told him we had similar palates, mentioning being biased toward Californian wines. How many new world wines was I presented during dinner? None.
This is not to say the pairings or wine were bad, just too predictable.
Bubbly Spanish Cava, a French Sur Lie Muscadet, a lovely Bordeaux style blend, and dessert wine. Is this traditional wine pairing a new season in dining? No. The sommelier should be talking to people, sussing out the type of wine drinkers present, and splashing them with wines they’ll love. Had this been the case, he probably would have quickly surmised that I’d prefer to jump straight in with a crisp white wine, skipping the bubbly to canon ball into the wines I enjoy most, bold and enigmatic reds. This most likely doesn’t happen because the chef is wearing too many hats, split running between his sous chefs in the kitchen and diners awaiting wine. Unless Chef Ton learns to serve two masters by being in two places at once, why not set the wine options on the menu, giving diners a few choices, as they’ve done with the food?
Seasons change and there’s a palpable excitement in the restaurant. Before the novelty wears off though, Le Du needs cultivate that energy and further articulate their concept by dirtying themselves in the fine details. This will keep their doors full not only with the Trip Advisor crowd, but an enculturated collection of food and wine loving diners for seasons long to come.
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