Today was another day of food glorious food. Lunch was bad enough complete with dessert and dinner, now that is a whole new episode of what food is suppose to be. Erawan opened in 2008. I remember going there on the 14th of July that year with Aunty Nancy when it just opened and its owner Robert Ooi was his usual harried and hurried self making sure we were all served and happy and contented and if we were not served, happy and contented back then he would have probably gotten a heart attack!
Now almost two years to the day, I go back there because my sister is back and Jo Ann (Aunty Nancy’s daughter) decided to take us there for dinner. I was a little apprehensive about going because I did not go to the gym today again, but since it rained I thought I would just follow them.
Upon entering Erawan, after two years I might add, it just looked so nice and bright and clean and its simplicity simply added class to the place. Now do not look at Erawan and think it is anything less because everything in Erawan is handmade, painted or specially chosen by Korn the chef and the artist extraordinaire. Everyone I know who knows Korn just loves him. I have never heard anyone utter a bad thing about him. Although Korn does not know I am friendly with some of the people he knows, they just think he is so loveable and kind and you know what….this transcends into his cuisine.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today I had the best Thai food I have ever had in my whole life!
Today is the day when the standard of Thai food has been risen so high that I will not settle for anything less!
Today I ate the finest Nouveau Thai Food where quality is of the highest order that you better not take me to any other Thai Restaurant in the country unless you can promise me that I will get this kind of food.
I have never started my review with so much niceties, simply because I would find fault with anything and everything, just because I am the way I am. Today Erawan was flawless! I cannot understand how Robert and Korn have done it, but believe me with passion, belief and love, you can do anything your heart wishes. Erawan proves this like no other.
Well let me start by saying Erawan is not cheap. I am trying to find some negativity about the place here, so yes, it is not cheap. And when you look at your surroundings and all, you would think I would refer to this place as a joint. But right from our first course, Stuffed Pineapple was placed in front of us. I knew I had to bite my tongue! It was simply divine! The pineapple sat on a plate and in the middle of each pineapple slice or piece, there was a mix of dried prawns, and friend onions, that had a sweet piquant taste to it. Now this was hard for me to breakdown so I could study it because it was just too nice. And unfortunately there was only one each per person, so it was kind of difficult to start asking the person next to me if I could see what was on their plate. I ate too fast. I could not help it. It was the beginning of one of the best meal experiences I have had in a long long time.
The next was Pomelo Salad. Now I have had Pomelo Salad many times, and often the pomelo is so stingily placed on the plate you would think it was a rare and near extinct fruit. Not at Erawan. What we got was chunky pieces of Pomelo, not the old dried ones but juicy and fresh, and instead of the sweet chilly sauce and peanuts, Korn has concocted this wonderful mix of freshly fried Garlic with Fried Onions and Crushed Peanuts and coriander leaves, and with a hint of dressing that is so slight and subtle, that as Jo Ann mixed it she inadvertently let out the juices of the pomelo, and this tangy sweet juice from the sacs of the fruit infused further with the mix of the flavors from the onions and garlic and it was simply scrumptious. I am not a sauce person, but a pouring sauce of sweet chilly sauce and thick coconut cream blended together to give it a hint of sweet, coconutty chilly flavor was simply out of this world.
Mind you I do not like coconut milk in my food! So this really took me by surprise.
Next the main courses came, the first was the Crab Fried Rice. Now this is literally how I said it CRAB FRIED RICE… note it is not fried rice with crab meat, but really more crab then rice so to speak. Another thing, I am not too keen on crab, and I swear to the Good Lord above, Korn made me change today. The Crab Fried Rice was simply divine to the power of a trillion. Mind you I am on diet and I had to eat so little (I shake my head and wonder why I do this to myself). I had two mouthfuls and wished I could have more. The Wok Hei taste was evident and yet the rice remained white and the while there was not much ingredients, the simpleness and the mix of the ingredients just made this fried rice out of this world. Korn used fresh crab, not the frozen ones you find in the supermarket freezer section. I am sorry to say I use Frozen Crab because I am lazy, and as of now, I shall never use Frozen Crab ever again! Just look at the photo of the single spoon of fried rice on my plate and look at the amount of shredded crab meat there is. Shocking right?
The next main course was the Scallop Omelet. I have never had Scallop Omelet in my life. Tonight I am a changed man. No more Oyster Omelet again. I want Scallop Omelet. Now once again Korn used fresh scallops. Not frozen rubbish! And it was not too huge and overpowering, it was the small scallops that still had its sweetness and crunch to it.. A simple dish, so simple but Korn has taken it to another level. I noticed by now that Korn does not use much ingredients in his foods and how he derives his flavors is by using very good products and only the freshest and by using these good and fresh products, one actually can taste the difference when these ingredients are put together and how such few ingredients when cleverly complemented together and give such a wonderful taste to food.
The Thai Green Curry was also wonderful. I don’t like Thai Green Curry because it is usually thick with artery clogging coconut milk and a mix of ingredients, but not Korns Green Curry. It was rich, wholesome, full of ingredients, not oily and actually I could have had it as a bowl of soup with spaghetti. I would have made it like a Green Curry Laksa of sorts. I should not say things like this but I am fussy, and yet I actually ate quite a few spoons of Korns Green Chicken Curry. The blend of fresh wild brinjals, and other ingredients are cooked so lovingly that you can even eat the tiny little brinjals which my sister thought was Capers. Most restaurants use wild brinjals as garnishing, but not Korn. Again it was just wonderful.
Ok first negative of the night. I am not a fan of Seafood Tom Yum. Finally, Yes, I found something wrong with the food of the night. The Tom Yum was the clear kind with prawns and something that I thought looked like fat scallops. I was not too keen to eat it but Jo Ann poured me a bowl minus all the seafood, and while I must say I unwillingly took the first spoon and burnt my mouth, but the special thing about it was the so called fat Scallop was actually mushroom, known as Chiengmai Mushrooms. Now I have always had oyster mushrooms and even tinned button mushrooms in my Tom Yum, so this was a nice change. Ok I lie, I loved it, it was too hot for me but I still enjoyed the Tom Yum. It was not a big bowl full like you would get in most Thai restaurants, it was a small pretty bowl but yet there was more then enough.
Mince Beef with Basil was next on the list and first mouthful you know this is freshly minced beef that is made on the premises. I like minced
beef and I like it minced by hand and this was perfect. The basil was not overpowering and most importantly, the mince beef was not fried with too much garlic like most placed I know. There was a slight hint of Worcestershire sauce, probably used to tenderize the beef, but that gave the Thai Mince Beef a slight fusion taste. I simply loved it, and with the slivers of chilly that was seeded, it really looked appetizing and not oily. On a good day, I could have eaten this with plain hot white rice. This was a dish that was created and prepared with no pretense.
The next was Kailan with salted fish. Now I had Kailan with salted fish this afternoon in another restaurant. Korns was by far superior. The vegetable still had a lot of snap to it and the flavor of the salted fish was not overpowering at all. Once again very little ingredients were used and yet the finished product was just too nice. Simplicity yet totally divine.
I think by now everyone was full and I did hear Robert going around telling other customers there was no this dessert and that dessert, so we were surprised when he brought us Lemon Grass Ice Cream, Mango Sticky Rice, Ice Cream with Banana Fritters, and Durian Sticky Rice. I am not a fan of Sticky Rice because it makes me burp. I am not a fan of banana fritters, and most of all I am not a fan of Durian with Sticky Rice, but guess what?
I ate everything!
Korn uses the purest glutinous rice for his desserts. Not the mixed kind we are used to over here. Before I forget, Robert (or Anan as he is known) and Korn go to Thailand a few times a month to buy food products for the restaurant and so when this happens, the restaurant is closed. It will be closed this weekend as they will go to Thailand to do marketing. This is how finicky Korn is when it comes to cooking his food for his customers, only the best will do or not it will not be sold. No second best. And the taste of the food is a reflection of this.
The Lemon Grass Ice Cream had a nice creaminess to it. It had a hint of lemon grass, and not like some places where they think they need to add lemon to lemon grass ice cream. Not Korn for sure! His was light, yet creamy and it is home made not some import. Perhaps someone should import this ice cream from Erawan.
The Durian with Sticky Rice was wonderful, now I hate sticky rice and durian and most of all coconut milk, yet I ate it up. Just three ingredients and it was just wonderful on the palate. I asked Robert what Durians he used and he said he used XO Durians, and Musang King. ( I think that’s what he said). This is seasonal and he will not use other durians. Robert said he would rather not sell the dessert then destroy the taste with something inferior.
Now the Banana Fritters was something else. I expected limp fried bananas served with ice cream, Korn’s version was otherwise. A sliver of banana was wrapped in Spring rolls skin and fried and so he banana was actually a real fritter so to speak. It was crunchy and was like an unusual banana wafer so to speak with the vanilla ice cream. I think this was cleverly done. Korn will go very very far in the culinary world. No doubts about it.
Finally, the Mango with Sticky Rice. While most people would consider this ordinary, and in most cases it would be, but with the combination of pure glutinous rice, and succulently sweet mangoes with just the right amount of coconut cream, this was another dish of divinity.
Erawan is truly a 5 Star Thai Restaurant. No bluff in the fancy uniforms of its staff, and the décor and ambiance. This is a place of strictly good food, fine food and customers that keep coming back for more.
You want to have dinner at Erawan you better preorder your food or sit there and wait like the VIP customers who were on the next table. Although they are regular, they always never order in advance and so they actually waited more then 45 minutes for their food to arrive. So you may be the Queen of England, but at Erawan, you do not order your food earlier, you sit and wait like everyone else. But trust me the wait is truly worth it.
Watching Korn and Robert mingle with the customers is truly something you only see in most European Restaurants overseas. While Robert is as usual harried and hurried, Korn is a picture of pleasantness and gentility. Together they make awesome hosts.
Be warned Erawan is not cheap, but remember good things are not cheap, cheap things are not good. Erawan stands as a beacon of Nouvelle Thai Cuisine. I do not think there will be any copycats out there for a long long time.
Erawan is only opened for Dinner from 6 pm to 10.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday. It is opened for lunch on Friday to Sunday 12 pm to 3 pm.
For more information on Erawan, please check out http://www.erawan-classicthai.com/