We usually shy away from "hotel restaurants"; the kind of restaurants which are there to attract guests to the hotel, and maybe not only to the restaurant. For our trip to Bangkok, we made an exception to this rule, as we just had to try the restaurant voted the best restaurant in Asia by the San Pellegrino list in 2014.
Nahm is the creation of David Thompson, an Australian chef which has been fascinated by Thai cuisine for a long time. After spending some time in Bangkok, he opened a few Thai restaurants in Sydney, before he was approached to open an upscale Thai restaurant in London, which he named Nahm.
Thompson used old Thai cooking methods which were hardly used anymore to recreate "lost" Thai-dishes. Nahm in London soon received a michelin star (the first ever for a Thai restaurant). Thompson was after this tasked with opening another inclination of Nahm, but this time where he first started, in Bangkok.
Nahm in Bangkok is situated in the trendy hotel Como, located by the hotels pool area. There's an exterior entrance, but it was locked and we had to enter via the hotel lobby.
The restaurant has a trendy and modern interior with a few Thai-style elements mixed in. The music playing in the background is typical "elevator-music", which sadly draws us into the "hotel-restaurant"-atmosphere. We see a few hotel guests trying to get a table, but the first seating is already booked, so they're told to get back later.
The set menu makes us able to pick dishes from all categories on the á la carte menu such as soup, salad, relish, curry and stir-fry. In traditional Thai-style we're also given all dishes at the same time (practically filling the entire table with dishes) to eat together with rice.
We're asked about our tolerance to spice, and we say "mildly", hoping that'll be ok for our palettes.
First up we're given a few canapés and amuse bouche. The initial bite of pineapple topped with pork with a mixture made from palm sugar and tamarind is very delicious. Out of the canapés we're very pleasantly surprised by the "taco" of prawn and coconut wafers with pickled ginger. The bite is a perfect combination of sweet, sour and spicy flavours.
As we've previously been dining at Bo.lan we can't help but start to compare the two, and we immediately sense that the flavours at Nahm are more suitable to a western palette and feels more "international". Perhaps losing in tradition because of it, but we're very happy with the tastes so far.
From our selection of main-dishes, we notice that the spice-level has been seriously pushed up. Our curry is so spicy that only one of us can finish it, but only with a burning mouth and watery eyes. Our fantastic server notices this and quickly comes back with napkins and a few small bites of rose apple (Jambu) with brown sugar to cool our seared palates. They're obviously used to "wimpy" europeans that can't handle "mild" Thai-spicyness.
All in all, the dishes were nice, but nothing mind-blowing (apart from its spiciness). We would have expected something else from a restaurant entitled "the best in Asia".
We're given another palette cleanser, a classic Thai bite which you can see all over the streets of Bangkok; green mango with sugar.
For deserts we chose a dish with rambutan's which were soaked in a fruity syrup and served with scallion thai cupcakes. The dish was very refreshing for the palette with the rambutan tropical fruit going perfectly with the fruity syrup. We also had a coconut ash pudding with a bowl of poached bananas. The pudding were so sticky and creamy it felt like eating a very gooey chocolate cake, which was really nice.
Even though the food was really good, the restaurant visit was sadly not very memorable. It actually felt very much like a "hotel-restaurant", and maybe not something you would venture out to, just as we were afraid of. There were no sense of "one-night only" or any ingenuity on the restaurant-experience side. As guests came and went, it was impossible to get a feeling that surpassed a level of "this was nice". It might also stem from the fact that the visit was rather quick. We entered, we ordered, and then received all the food at once — and then we were done. This type of Thai-"family-style" dining looses a bit in appeal when it comes to "experience". We would recommend Nahm because of its food, but don't expect much else.