Formerly helmed by chef to the stars David Thompson and now under the reign of the inimitable Chef Pim, nahm is top of the fine dining game in Thailand’s capital: excellent fare, central location, COMO Metropolitan charm, and Michelin stars under two chefs. Tables for dinner are booked far in advance. But what about lunch? Some might be surprised to learn that the crème de la crème of the capital’s fine dining is open for the midday meal – an altogether easier table to get and a lunch worth boasting about.
“This is heritage Thai cuisine.” Chef Pim Techamuanvivit tells Travelogues. “This is the Thai food we grew up with – Thai food that we love.”
The lunch at nahm is an abbreviated version of the celebrated dishes of the nahm dinner, a selection of Thai salads, curries, and appetizers that give guests the feel for the nahm taste without the overwhelming formality of an evening at Bangkok’s hottest restaurant.
“It’s hard to show the full side of what we do at nahm at lunch, because the dinner is the whole thing, but it is just a little taste of everything we do,” Chef Pim says.
Chef Pim is on a mission to involve artisanal ingredients in this Michelin-starred restaurant. “It’s been really great to be back home, in Bangkok, and it’s great to be cooking with these artisanal ingredients. In San Francisco, some farms grow some things for me, but it’s nothing like really cooking Thai food, right here in the cradle of Thai cuisine,” Chef Pim says.
The roof of the luxury COMO Metropolitan in Bangkok is part of the farm-to-table philosophy, growing pandan, jasmine, and chilies in the skies of downtown Bangkok.
The plush nahm is, of course, housed in the surrounds of the COMO Metropolitan, a mainstay of luxury travelers intent on the epicurean pleasures of Sathorn over the heritage treasures of the Chao Phraya.
The dishes begin (and indeed end) with traditional Thai flavors, the opener being a twist on what many travelers have come to know as the “Thai crepe”, or khanom buang – an amalgam of sweet and savory in a crispy, rice-based wafer. The flavors are quite different on the dried shrimp and santol on rice crackers, but sweetness is never far from the nahm palate.
“We’re still respecting the way we are serving Thai food. Even though it’s fine dining, we’re not doing a sort of French gastronomic experience where you get a bite of this followed by a bite of that,” Chef Pim says. “We’re still serving dishes the way we do in Thailand.”
The lobster and pork canapes will also be known to those familiar with Thai dining; only the finest and freshest of ingredients will do for this dish because the ingredients are the dish. Simple thong-lang leaves are packed with lobster, green mango, snake fruit, and other spices to produce a crisp, lively flavor. The shrimp in the tom yum soup preceding the more fulsome courses are plump and flavorful.
This is traditional Thai cuisine, so spicy makes its way into the afternoon via the angry beef stir-fry with wagyu beef young coconut shoots, basil, and green peppercorns, but the star of the nahm lunch is by far the lamb Massaman curry. Normally a dish of beef, the fresh lamb ads an element of earthiness to an already famously earthy Thai curry; the lamb is accompanied by potatoes and burnt shallots.
To round off the lunch is a take on Pandanus dumplings, served in a fragrant coconut milk; it’s a watery and surprisingly smoky-tasting nahm dessert that has almost overwhelming sesame overtones – in a good way. The sweetness of the icy broth and the jellied balls combine for both sweet and savory tastes in the extreme; one can taste the broth and squash the jelly in one bite, but neither flavor overtakes the other. It’s almost as if diners can taste sweet when they breathe in and smoky when they breathe out.
Ultimately, the lunch at nahm is never going to win out over the dinner, but the low-key fine dining venue is a chance to get to know one of Bangkok’s most famous restaurants without the pretensions (and reservations) of the dinner. It is a chill, spicy Thai heritage dining experience at one of the capital’s most exciting venues.