Feast for a King: Benjarong Restaurant, Dusit Thani Bangkok


A Feast Fit for a King!
Photo by thetravelguyshops
 
My family and I were recently treated to a wonderful pre-Christmas day lunch at what I now consider to be the best Thai restaurant in Bangkok, or possibly in all of Thailand. I’m not just saying this because of the invitation to a complimentary meal extended to (not just) me; the food is actually impressive, as you will see further down below. 
 
From our hotel, we boarded the train for a few stops going to Benjarong Restaurant, located at the ground floor of Bangkok’s classic and iconic international five-star Dusit Thani Bangkok whose existence in the city spans nearly five decades. Today, it is very accessible through both the Silom MRT or Sala Daeng BTS sky train stations. Incidentally, Dusit Thani Bangkok was the other of the two options we were considering for our stay in Bangkok precisely because of its accessibility and reputation.
 
 
Upon arriving, I informed the hostess of my name and our reservation was immediately located. The restaurant had a foyer that was delicately yet tastefully designed which ultimately led to the dining area. 
 
The path to an authentic Thai dining experience…
 
…in a luxurious setting no less!
Photo by thetravelguyshops
Not knowing what we were in for, I soon discovered the stark contrast between the minimalist little hallway into the grandiose dining area. It was truly, for lack of a better word, fancy. Everything was in exquisite detail, from the placement of silverware to the design of the ceilings. We were certainly getting the royal treatment. The seats by the window provided a refreshing view of the hotel’s outdoor fountain with plenty of natural light pouring through.
 
We were seated at one of the best seats in the house at one of their biggest tables. A few minutes later, we were greeted by my contact Ms. Ploy of the hotel’s Communications department, as well as by the chef in charge, Chef Oom. His background includes having studied at the Dusit Thani College and trained with the Admiral at the Thai navy. He also worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant where he taught the Thai technique of cooking for a year. 
 
I learned that no less than the Thai royal family used to dine at Benjarong, and in recent years it became so popular that it spread throughout the other Dusit hotels worldwide, namely Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Guam and even Manila. Ms. Ploy explained what makes Benjarong exceptional: it is thanks to the vision of Dusit Hotels’ new Group Chef of Thai Cuisine Morten Boejstrup Nielsen (previously with Nahm Restaurant in London) of incorporating modern and Western techniques learned through training in order to successfully bring out and enhance the authentic Thai flavor, as opposed to imposing a Western palate on how dishes are supposed to taste. To me, this was truly a mind-opening perspective on culinary approaches to gastronomic perfection.
 
 
Soup and Salad
 
(Center) Tom Yum
Soup of Prawn, Galangal and Lemongrass

Photo by thetravelguyshops
As soon as I had a first taste of the Tom Yum, I was reeled in and looked forward to the rest of the course. Why? Because I generally do not like Tom Yum, as in I wouldn’t voluntarily order it, but I absolutely loved what was served in front of me! Unlike the Tom Yum I’ve tried before, Benjarong’s version was not overpowering at all, and the lightly charred prawn blended so well with the Tom Yum and really brought out its flavor. You know how you think (or in my case, reminisce) about a sour-tasting food that just literally makes your tongue tingly and your mouth water? That’s me right as I write this. In any case, I never would have imagined that I would be able to finish an entire bowl of Tom Yum, but I did that day! 
 
 
Yum Pla Duk Foo Deconstructed
Crispy Catfish Salad and Green Mango with Crab meat and Tom Yum custard

Photo by thetravelguyshops
Although I can’t call myself a foodie (just yet?), at least compared to hardcore foodies with dedicated food blogs out there, I believe I am aware of recent trends in culinary techniques: deconstruction. This dish is very unique in terms of its taste and the way it’s served (photo below). It has the following properties: crunchiness of the catfish, tenderness of the crab meat, and creaminess and mild spiciness of the Tom Yum custard. I highly recommend this dish because of the way the textures and flavors blend harmoniously.  
 
Photo by Dusit Thani Bangkok
 
The Main Course
 
Pad Thai
No explanations needed!

Photo by thetravelguyshops
Initially, we weren’t supposed to be served Pad Thai since Ms. Ploy assumed that we’ve already tried it on our trip, especially since it’s also considered street food and you can have it anytime, anywhere in Thailand. But we had just arrived the night before from Hong Kong and haven’t actually had any, and she responded by saying Pad Thai was actually Benjarong’s signature dish! She had one prepared and served for us right away without any hesitations.
 
Photo by Dusit Thani Bangkok
Their version of Pad Thai stayed faithful to the essence of the de facto national dish of Thailand, but improved. There was a generous serving of the non-negotiable elements such as peanuts, bean sprouts, a wedge of lime and some lemongrass. The cherry on top, both visually and otherwise, would have to be the ginormous prawns – its crowning glory.
 
Kang Kiew Wan See Krong Neau Toon
72-Hour Cooked Beef Ribs in Aromatic Curry of Green Herbs and Spices

Photo by thetravelguyshops
There are a few moments in life where we can’t really be sure of things. To me, this experience was one of them. It was impossible to select a “favorite” dish out of everything that I’ve tried so far, but if I had a gun pointed to my head I would have to choose the curry beef ribs. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this dish was slow-cooked for 3 days to tender perfection and soon accompanied by a sweet, tangy curry sauce that turned it into a match made in heaven.
 
Photo by Dusit Thani Bangkok.
 
(Center) See Krong Moo Krob Wan
Crispy Sweet Pork Ribs and Salted Sriracha Cabbage
(Right) assorted rice (Jasmine Rice, Gaba Rice, 
Riceberry)

Photo by thetravelguyshops
I can still remember the honey-sweet taste and crispiness of the pork ribs. Like the curry beef ribs, the meat just slides off the bone and tasted PERFECT with the rice. 
 
 
Pla Yang Samunprai,
Grilled Fish in Banana Leaf with Aromatic Herbs

Photo by thetravelguyshops
The last dish served was the grilled fish served with sweet chili sauce. It definitely proved to not be the least since I recall it to be the favorite dish of one among our group of diners as well as Ms. Ploy. I attribute this to the special herbs used and the method of grilling the fish in a traditional banana leaf that reminds you of lunch at a tropical beach destination.
 
And for dessert…
 
Mango and Sticky Rice
Photo by thetravelguyshops
 
Cake Kalamae with Fudge Ice Cream and Crispy Banana
Photo by thetravelguyshops
 
Orange Cake and Passion Fruit Sorbet, Cocoa Crumble and Cream Cheese
Photo by thetravelguyshops
 
I ordered the Mango and Sticky Rice because I wanted to see Benjarong’s take on the simple, classic and iconic Thai dessert. It was served chilled and the house-made mango sherbet on top was a fine addition to it. If you like chewy chocolate cookies, you’ll like the Cake Kalamae with Fudge Ice Cream which can be definitely considered comfort food. Lastly, for something edgy and different, go for the Orange Cake and Passion Fruit Sorbet served artistically atop some cocoa crumble.
 
 
The Final Verdict
 
By now you know that the food is without-a-hint-of-doubt good, but before you quickly assume and dismiss that this restaurant as being excessively overpriced (as I would if I didn’t know any better, since they are located inside a five-star hotel after all), that is where we could not be more wrong. As some of you may know, my travel philosophy and this travel blog are all about finding excellent value. As an example, it would be more sensible to pay USD 50 for a 4-star hotel stay when the cheapest option available is a USD 30 hostel bed.
 
Well, I’ll tell you one thing: the curry beef ribs were only THB 470 (just USD 13~) and everything else was priced lower than that! I don’t know about you, but that to me is unbelievable value, if not unbeatable. Even without the fancy tableware and 5-star hotel location, the taste of the food alone prepared by excellently-trained chefs makes their prices prices more than reasonable. (Although do note that there is an applicable 10% service charge and minimal government tax, if you didn’t know that already.)
 
So whenever you’re in Bangkok, I highly recommend for you to go out of your way to treat yourself to a fine, delicious and authentic Thai dining experience at Benjarong. You deserve it! 🙂
Benjarong Bangkok
946 Rama IV Road, Bangkok 10500, THAILAND
+66 (0) 2200 9000, +66 (0) 2236 6400
 
 
GET YOUR FREE DESSERT by checking in with: #benjarongfreedessert on your social media profile when dining at Benjarong.

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