custom chocolate piped well wishes Tag

Where:
Paste
3rd Floor, Gaysorn Village, 999 Ploenchit Rd
Lumpini, Bangkok, Thailand

Phone:
+66(0)2 656 1003

Price:
Including one drink, got out at around THB2100 per person (SGD90 / HKD515 / USD65) per person.

The deal:
The awfully named Paste is in the middle of Gaysorn Village, a shopping mall in Bangkok, right near the centre of all the shopping action – Siam.  It’s almost always an ominous sign, when you’re traversing the escalators up and down of a retail hellhole before you sit down for an expensive dinner. Surely this is how you lay a disingenuous trap to lure cashed up shoppers into your restaurant by proximity, convenience and taking advantage of their inability to think clearly as they’re drunk on heady consumerism? Regardless, Paste does the best it can and I’m sure every review written about it makes pithy comments about how its luxurious fit out will make you forget you’re in a shopping mall, taking you away to a hidden, culinary oasis.  It’s got the high curved partitions and ample space between tables, while a looming structure of flowers and cane, arches towards the ceiling, branches grasping desperately at feeling decadent amongst the low lights and slow flicker of tea light candles.  I spotted a number of couples taking forced romantic snaps of each other and a group of businessmen exchanging niceties and no doubt drinking pleasant wine at the company’s expense.  For all of Paste’s effort, it feels a little forced and stiff, the sort of place that might read fancy but also ticks the boxes on formulaic and uninspired.  The sort of space that makes the perfect backdrop for a generically pretty girl in an evening dress to hold a birthday cake as she tries to angle the custom chocolate piped well wishes towards the camera for that FB #anotheryear #onceinalifetimelove photo, while casually tagging the fancy restaurant her milquetoast boyfriend’s taken her to.

simple-bitch-hell

Paste’s concept by the Australian Chef Jason Bailey and the native Thai Chef Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun is to present creative dishes which are anchored in traditional techniques and provincial Thai dishes favoured by ancient kings while refining them with a modern sensibility and using seasonal, local Thai ingredients.  The Paste website suffers from a case of massive poetic diarrhoea, talking about how they are “motivated to unearth hidden culinary treasures” like they’re some sort of adventurous culinary inclined Indiana Jones and how Chef Bee is in the relentless pursuit of researching and modifying these historical recipes which sees her travelling “frequently across the diverse landscapes of rural Thailand to discover, gather and collect diverse ingredients which cause her carefully balanced dishes to shine”.  We all know that Thai food has some fuck yeah big-ass flavour profiles and I’m interested to see what this modern take on lesser known, older traditional dishes actually equates to.  Ok that sounds like I tarted up my intentions a bit, but if I really face cold hard facts, my true Bangkok pursuits are far less noble and largely consist of smashing up as many fuck yeah noms and cocktails as possible in a long weekend.  To kick off proceedings, I pick the Bangkok Mule and holy fucking shit, in true Bangkok cocktail form it’s sweet as all hell.  Billed as citrus infused vodka and lychee liqueur with locally grown passionfruit-lychee-lime, this drink’s main issue is in its complete lack of balance.  The lime can barely poke through the sickly sweetness of this drink and even when I purposefully let the ice melt to try and make this thing drinkable, it doesn’t help.  I abandon my Bangkok Mule and wonder whether it’s been called a mule not because of any resemblance to its Soviet counterpart but because the obscene amount of sugar has kicked my front teeth out.

The first starter I order is meant to be “one of the unique aristocratic Thai innovations chosen to be served at the inauguration of the temple of the Emerald Buddha in the year 1809 by King Rama 1″ and there might be a reason why this dish has not been dragged into the 21st century.  Balls of fresh watermelon are mixed with a crispy floss which consists of ground salmon, crispy shallots and roasted galangal powder.  However it’s just like my cocktail, unbelievably sweet which leaves me with the question of why am I eating crunchy tiny bits of sweet, fried fish with sweet, fresh balls of watermelon?  I curse myself for ordering this dish because really, what was I really expecting of this fried fruity fishy fuck no mess and stop to think what King Rama 1 must have thought about his subjects who thought this was a good and noble way to celebrate anything at all?

britney-what-the-hell-was-i-thinking

Our next starter is the shredded roasted duck served on rice crackers.  It looks like a fuck yeah as it makes its way to the table.  Puffy rice crackers with delicious looking shredded duck and saw tooth coriander piled on top, resting on a striking bed of bright red legumes.  Mixed with curry paste and nutmeg, these spicy fuckers are let down by the complete lack of balance in this dish with the initial rush of fragrant curry giving way to just an overwhelming fuck no crush of it being TOO SWEET.  Ughhhh, A1 presentation followed by -Z100 balance of flavours.

The first main is the old style hot and sour soup of crispy pork leg, chargrilled shallots, jack fruit seeds, roasted tomatoes in a smoky chicken broth.  This clear soup is straight up fuck yeah fire, hitting the spiciness vs the sour from the limes perfectly.  The layers of flavour are nuanced and with every spoonful, I’m learning something more about this soup and I don’t ever want it to end.  However, despite this being listed as a main which clocks in at a very substantial price point (especially considering we’re in the fairer and generally cheaper Bangkok), some of the fuck yeah feelings I have for this soup is diminished by the four tiny (though fucking delicious) cubes of crispy pork.  I chew deliberately and carefully on each tiny cube, trying to extract maximum value from this miserly portion while shooting all the side eye I can manage at the remaining two minuscule pork pieces which bob about like lonely lost survivors in the Pacific Ocean. As an extra kicker, the roasted cherry tomatoes when you bite into them explode in your mouth, spraying their insides as hot as molten lava directly into your mouth.

emojisideye

Our final main is a smoky southern yellow curry of Gulf of Thailand red spanner crab, hummingbird flowers, Thai samphire and turmeric.  This curry is also quite delicious but just like its homie the hot and sour soup, suffers from a fuck no sparseness in ingredients.  I poke a fork around the yellow curry gravy, searching desperately for whatever pieces of red spanner crab I can find.  Instead, I find the rising disappointment and the distinct feeling that Paste is taking the piss with actually providing me with the ingredients it promises.

At the end of this, they ask whether we’re interested in dessert but there’s been absolutely nothing that I’ve eaten during my meal that inspired me to say yes.  Instead, we ask for the bill and I reflect upon this meal.  About how it felt like food cooked by a kitchen who wasn’t tasting its food to see if shit was balanced correctly.  About the uninspired fit out which people who don’t know any better would think would be the hall marks of a fine dining restaurant.  About how the staff were just fine but not amazing, which isn’t appropriate for where Paste is trying to position itself as they kept forgetting to bring us new cutlery or appropriate utensils for the dishes that we ordered.  About how I imagined the owners costing out the ingredients, setting not inconsequential prices by even Singapore or HK prices and then calculating that allowing 10g of protein per person was an acceptable amount for a main dish.  Sitting in my plush chair in the middle of a mall in Bangkok it hits me in my heart about how I’ve wasted a holiday meal and my cash on something so mediocre when there’s so many cheap and tasty eats in Bangkok.

Then the final insult as I drag my disappointment into the warm and sticky Bangkok night, there it is – Paste’s doors, adorned with certificates from all those assholes like Tatler and Asia City declaring it is the BEST or TOP and I wonder, how could anyone have eaten the meal I had and be inspired to even return, let alone to sit down and bash out paragraphs of praise or even declaring it Most Loved Thai Restaurant (Fine Dining) for 2016 like Time Out did.

Which just goes to show, you can’t trust the media, #best whatever lists nor accolades for shit.

superhanscanttrust

Verdict:
FUCK NOOOO.  Put this one firmly in the category of “I endured this mediocre meal and waste of holiday calories so you fuckers don’t have to”.

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