When I think of delicious and inventive Thai food in Bangkok, hotel restaurants don’t normally spring to my mind. It’s been my experience these restaurants usually dumb down the Thai flavors to cater to the Western tongue. The menus also lack creativity and are usually filled with the basic foreigner offerings: Pad Thai, Green Curry, Som Tum, and so on. So when my gal and I were invited to check out the Ross Kitchen (official Facebook page) at the Akara Hotel I was concerned it might not be a good fit for what I like to write about.
That concern was immediately lifted with a bit of research in which I discovered that this family run hotel is so passionate about food they have their own onsite cooking school and culinary library. If they care that much about food the restaurant’s got to be good, right? One look at the inventive Thai menu at Ross Kitchen which covers Thailand’s regional food landscape convinced me it would be good, and I’m so glad we went.
Let me show you the dishes we experienced and you can judge for yourself!
Same same but different…
One thing you’ll quickly realize about the Ross Kitchen menu is that many of the dishes are Thai food but a little different. Not so different that I’d consider it “fusion“. Because the Thai flavors are all there…the chili heat, the sweet and sour tamarind, the pungent fermented fish paste. It’s just that the preparation or ingredients may be tweaked slightly to make it a little different.
The complimentary appetizer of pork rinds and greens with fermented fish paste dip and a Thai “salsa” are a good example of how the dishes are Thai…but different.
The head chef behind this inventive menu is Chef “Bank” Anusak Umpansang. His goal is to make Ross Kitchen a Thai gastronomical experience where guests can taste the countrysides of the 4 regions of Thailand. His formative chef years were spent working for various French restaurants. From this experience he began to experiment using the learned French influences in his Thai cooking. As an example of this, his use of liver pâté as an ingredient in their popular Larb Duck Confit dish.
Let me introduce you to the other dishes we had so you can see for yourself.
The Ross Signature Salad (450 baht) is more than a dish..it’s also an experience. It is brought out deconstructed (broken down into 9 small bowls of ingredients (veggies, herbs, and sauces) with a large plate holding the fresh greens, large raw hotate scallops, salmon, and oysters. It’s prepared table side in front of you, or if you prefer a DIY experience they’ll guide you so that you can prepare it yourself.
What we really enjoyed was the server describing each ingredient as she prepared the salad. It gave us an idea of how we might prepare the salad for ourselves at home (though I have a feeling it still wouldn’t be the same).
The finished result is a large portioned salad packed with tangy sweet/sour tamarind paste, fiery chilies, crunchy fried shallots, and incredibly fresh seafood. I highly recommend this dish both for the taste and the experience.
A cheeky curry!
If you’re a fan of Thai curries this Wagyu Beef Cheek Curry (450 baht) is a must try dish. The curry sauce is creamy, and intensely flavorful with kaffir lime, chili, and turmeric. But what sets this apart from other curries is that it’s completely loaded with super tender wagyu beef cheek meat and crowned with a bundle of slightly crunchy cha-om shoots tempura. This was one of our favorite dishes and I highly recommend it.
No tears shed eating this…
What’s in a name? With a name like “Crying Tiger” I thought this dish might be packing a lot of chili heat. I was certainly eying the dipping sauce with some caution. But this Crying Tiger (350 baht) dish doesn’t have that kind of bite. However the thin slices of wagyu beef are seasoned and cooked perfectly, and the sauce is more tangy than picante.
The meatatarian in me thoroughly enjoyed this dish!
A different kind of larb.
I write about dishes that impress me and I’d recommend to you, dear reader. That being said, this is a dish that may cause a bit of controversy. You’ll either dig it or you’ll have the opposite reaction. I dug it (otherwise I wouldn’t write about it).
I think I really enjoyed it because despite it being so different from what I was expecting it to taste like, it was still delicious and beautifully presented. I guess I’m just a simple guy who likes what he likes. But let me enlighten you about the dish so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you’d dig it, too.
First off, if you’re craving larb, this isn’t going to satisfy your craving. Larb Duck Confit (400 baht) gets its name from the fact that the duck leg is larb marinated and then slow cooked for 3 hours confit style. It is not served on larb, rather it’s served on a bed of liver pâté, king oyster mushroom, and aromatic black truffle oil.
See what I mean about expecting one thing and experiencing another? Did you like what you just read? Then you’ll dig the dish, too!
Save room for dessert!
Ross Kitchen offers many reasonably priced dessert dishes. It’s a good idea to save a little room for something sweet to finish with. My gal and I decided to try 2 different dishes and share them. The Local Fruits Infused by Pingent and Bitter Orange (90 baht) was a delicious way to end the meal with sweet fruits and a citrusy sorbet.
My personal favorite was this Thai Glutinous Rice Ball Salty and Sweet Egg (90 baht) dish. It consists of strips of coconut meat and tiny hand rolled colored balls of glutinous rice in a creamy coconut milk sauce with a poached egg. It sounds weird, right? An egg? But let me tell you, the egg yolk with the creamy coconut sauce is amazing!
I’m hungry. Where is it?
Opened since April 2018, the Ross Kitchen is located on the 4th floor of the Akara Hotel which is right across from the Ratchaprarop airport link station. The funky interior is decorated with old Thai movie posters and exudes diner chic vibes. You can’t miss the large Instagrammable neon Tiger signage.
There are private dining areas, and a small dedicated bar. For large groups the open space affords ample table combinations. The space is also available for special functions. No matter the size of your group big or small, they’ve got you covered!
A handy tip…
The Akara Hotel also has a wonderful little rooftop bar called Barracuda. It doesn’t tower above the city but because it is surrounded by a lot of green space it offers impressive views of the Bangkok’s cityscape. The prices for cocktails, beer, and wine are also pretty reasonable (the Old Fashioned I’m enjoying was 280 baht).
It’s a great place to have a sundowner before dinner or a few libations after a wonderful meal at Ross Kitchen.
I want to hear from you!
Should you decide to visit Ross Kitchen I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below, directly to me, or via message on either the Chow Traveller Facebook page or Chow Traveller Instagram. However you choose, I’d love to hear from you!