Address: Elements Okura Prestige Bangkok, 25 Floor, 57 Wireless Road
How to get there: BTS Phloen Chit
Phone: +66 2-687-9099
Prices: 6 courses for 3,600 baht (US$115)
Michelin Guide Bangkok: https://guide.michelin.com/th/en/bangkok/elements/restaurant
Michelin Guide comes to Bangkok: http://fwnn.com/michelin-guide-bangkok
The original Okura Hotel offered the height of design and luxury to its distinguished guests who visited Tokyo in the 1960s. The Okura Prestige in Bangkok also stands out for quality from the hundreds of five-star hotels dotted about Bangkok. It presents the perfect setting for the undercover restaurant reviewers for the Michelin Guide to be wowed.
Were we disappointed? Yes. Was it so bad that we need to take the good name of Element down? Yes. (Unless they pay us the Michelin reviewers fee that is.) But we’ll start with the positives. The service team was a level above what we have come to expect in Thailand: very well educated and unobtrusive. They have obviously been trained to recognise your movements, and judge the timing of table cloth cleaning, refilling glasses or offering more bread. The restaurant too was a comfortable space that generated a great ambience with high ceilings and a nice view of the city. Thierry just loved the industrial-style lighting that omitted a blue hue.
A dearth of flavours was the one constant throughout the meal. The enjoyable flow of conversation between four good friends was consistently interrupted by an outburst of whingeing about each course. Granted, the dishes were beautiful to look at. But Elements must be the perfect example of the backslapping, nods, winks, cliques and overhype that accompany the compilation of these commercially driven ‘best of’ restaurant guides. We found the food dire and the inflated bill offensive.
An amuse bouche before the courses began. The sushi in edible rice paper was a tasty starter that included a fusion of six flavours.
Sea bass from the Mediterranean, steamed with crispy skin and carrots, fennel and yuzu mousseline. Four courses in, the pickled carrot was the first non-bland element we’d tasted since adding salt to the unsalted butter and croissant.
Kurobuta pork belly roasted with sancho pods. One of the two dishes was overly moist. The other was served perfectly crispy. The combination of the cheek and the carrot skin was well flavoured and when enjoyed together produced a very pleasant harmony. The sauce was very sweet and played well with the citric notes of the clementine. For Lib, it made up for everything else.
Freshwater crayfish bisque scented with cognac and matcha. Isabella quote of the day: “I remember fishing as a child and eating it straight away and it was a sweet tasting meat. It didn’t taste like a vagina or a stinky old fish market. This was too fishy tasting for me.”
White asparagus and smoked tofu, onsen egg yolk, smoked daikon, salmon roe and soba wafer. Creative and a some interesting flavours but it lacked any wow factor. We wanted to reach for the table salt that fine dining restaurants don’t provide.
Its colour and texture gave it the appearance of a children’s sauce, but when combined with the fennel it made sense. The chicken was mostly sublime with sweet undertones. Both the breast and the leg were succulent but undercooked in places. The stuffing was a little too resonant of liver. Monsieur birthday boy gave it a sideways thumbs.
For dessert, we tucked into bee pollen ice cream with fresh mulberries, rosella and fruit rouge tea, and almond biscuit. It was mildly inoffensive; too subtle for our taste buds. By the end of the meal, we were left wondering why a top restaurant should serve up such vland flavours in a kingdom blessed with the richest, most interesting flavours in the world.