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Monday, October 29, 2012

Aston Gastro Bar - Modern European Restaurant Review - CDC, Bangkok

Aston Gastro Bar - Modern European Cuisine at CDC, Bangkok 

Overall Score  9.5/10
Taste   5/5
Ambiance  4/5
Service  4.5/5
Value   4/5

Aston Gastro Bar - European Restaurant on BumRes.com

About two years ago, I got to review the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC for the first time.  Now it is the occasion for the second visit since I have heard that the menu is different from when the restaurant first opened.  The menu is new and improved.  The Chef Zra or what Thai people know as Chef Ton commented that earlier in his cooking career being less skillful he wasn’t brave enough to create farfetched unique dishes when he first opened the Aston.  Until now that he has gain more confidence of his tricks and he is proudly presenting the remarkable creations to distinguish his skills from others.  Chef Ton, the brave chef who challenged the Iron chef Thailand but unfortunately he was defeated.  With his great ambition to be the great chef, he continually explores cuisines of the world and adapts his skills to the new found techniques.  The vision of this energetic young Thai Chef is narrated in the form of culinary arts that can be experienced at the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC

Atmosphere of the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC hasn’t changed much.  The décor is European and with green earthy tone, it actually evokes an Irish bar when it’s closed.  With the dimmed lighting to set the relaxing atmosphere, it was best for a small gathering of closed friends to enjoy a nice dinner.  The two seater tables could be good for couples as well.  Customer service was not to be worried.  The staffs were helpful and knowledgeable of food just like my previous visit.           

At the time of my first visit at Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC, I actually thought this place was pricier than most, especially when compared to other restaurants in this community mall.  And perhaps I was still new the restaurant outing in Bangkok.  Now that I have gone to many upscale restaurants in Bangkok, I actually think that the price is reasonable.  The fact that the average price in the menu barely went up after two years was nice surprise for me.  Main dishes mostly cost less than 500 baht and appetizers cost around 100 baht. 

On this visit, we had all the Chef’s recommendations.  The first and most welcoming enjoyment was the Ume Bomb - Chinese plum spherified (65 baht).  Served in spoons, the round-edged liquid floating had the amusing look.  One slurp is all it takes to be delighted.  So fresh and so plum flavored; how it was wrapped in gelatin sphere intrigued me most.  Coming up next was the Watermelon CRU - Compressed with Vodka, lime zest, and Sea salt (135 baht).  The feeling was like having a fruit cocktail before a meal but much lighter and more friendly.

The Mushroom Capuccino – Truffle foam and croutons (165 baht) was the soup in a cup.  It was startling to see a cup of coffee before the main dish, strange but so tasty.  The temperature was mere perfect.  I could drink the mushroom soup from the cup and get the foamy touch like the cappuccino while crunching on the croutons as if it was a biscuit.  So far, what a playful dining at the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC.   

The next appetizer was the Cold Smoke Tuna – Spicy dressing, nashi pear, and spring onion (195 baht).  This menu was also from the old menu.  It must be the top seller.  I am not surprised at all.  This dish was just delish; spicy and sweet dressing, fresh and firm Tuna, refreshing and crisp pear.  All combined to the perfect harmony.  I freaking loved it, despite the fact that I thought it had the Sriracha sauce in the mixture.  Fifth round was the Organized Caesar Salad – Bacon, crouton, anchovy, parmesan (150 baht).  This dish was a Vietnamese born European.  A spring roll was what it looked like.  Nicely thought out and its taste was very much a Caesar salad.  Perhaps adding the blue cheese would accentuate it as being European more. 

We still have two more appetizers.  The first to come was the Foie Gras Terrine 2.0 – Granola, sorret gelee, strawberry (475 baht).  The heart was beautifully garnished with colorful flowers.  I liked the dehydrated fruits and the granola with the terrine foie gras.  The other appetizer had the traditional origin, the Caramelized Foie Gras – apple, umeshu, walnut, gaufrette (495 baht).  The green apple sauce really lightened up the foie gras.  The foie gras was actually great by itself, but the addition made the flavors more complex and modern.  Nice presentation, of course - with the crispy curvy crust thing, made of walnut?    

For the main course at Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC, we have six choices.  It was a feast, no joke.  The first was the Snowfish Japonaise - Miso, Yuzu soba, shishito pepper, seaweed, dashi (660 baht).  I questioned about the size of the fish to Chef Zra.  He told me that it was Sous vide, so the fish didn’t shrink much.  With this cooking technique, the fish was perfectly moist and had the firm texture.  This whole dish portrayed a great concept of East meets West.  With the dish being so Japanese, it also had the touch of European presentation and preparation technique.  It was a great menu.  The second dish was the Chicken – Moral, Barley cream, asparagus, turmeric, chicken jus (395 baht).  When I first bit into the chicken, I was speechless with pleasure.  Its texture couldn’t be better.  Well, it was a thigh but the color was as bright as the breast.  Later I found out that the chicken was brined to cleanse out the meat.  Brine is to submerge the meat in salt water for a period of time.  Alongside the chicken was the barley cream that was just mild flavor but rich and creamy.  The barley itself had a nice texture to enjoy with the chicken and the asparagus.  “Chicken” was another wonderful creation by Chef Zra.

The third menu in the main course was the Duck Breast – Cherry duck, confit nashi pear, duck fat potato fondant, cherry/juniper berry jus (395 baht).  Presentation was eye catching with the yellowish green garnish and the pear.  The sauce was tasty but the natural flavor of the duck didn’t do the trick.  Thai ducks are usually prepared with heavily spiced sauce or marinade (in Chinese and Thai cooking).  Presented here was different; French style, attempting to offer the nature of ingredients.  So, this dish was less impressive.

The other meat main dish at the Aston CDC was the Tenderloin Wagyu – Australian wagyu A3 tenderloin, smoked potato, pearl onion, mushroom, truffle sauce (1100 baht).  I assumed that this precious chunk of meat was Sous vide as well (prior to grilling) because its tenderness was beyond grilling logic.  The highlight of this dish was the paste like ingredient sitting atop the steak.  It is the Bone Marrow, with was so rich and buttery and tasty.  Again the garnish here was beautiful; garlic, sprouts, and onions.  I enjoyed every bit of my share of this outstanding menu.

The last two main dishes at the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC were the Italian creations by Chef Zra.  Firstly, the Pasta Mentaiko – Crab spicy Pollock roe, onion, toasted chili (345 baht).  The combination was evenly mixed.  I could feel the Mentaiko and shredded crab covered the spaghetti in every bite.  It was rather dry but still delicious.  The second Italian dish was the Risotto Sea Urchin & Wasabi – Nori, Kaiware shoot (450 baht).  Its distinctive flavor was so charming.  In one bite, I could taste Cheese, Uni, and then Wasabi respectively.  Honestly I didn’t know where the balance should be between the three but I found it very interesting.  My friends and I finished the whole dish of risotto so fast even though we already had so much food.

For desserts, Chef Zra of the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC presented three choices; the Truffle Waffle – Summer truffle, condense milk gelaton, egg waffle (195 baht), the Chocolate Foam – Hot chocolate foam, frozen white chocolate (195 baht), and Deconstructed Carrot Cake – Carrot jelly & poach, cinnamon ice cream, vanilla cream cheese, raisin gel (175 baht).  The first one was kind of awkward.  I never thought that the truffle would be good for dessert.  The idea was brilliant but the outcome wasn’t as lovable.  The Chocolate foam on the other hand was amazing from the start; created with liquid nitrogen on the table, in front of everyone.  It tasted chocolaty and crisps of frozen stuffs were fantastic.  I liked it.  And lastly the carrot mayhem came with full options.  Fresh carrots, carrot cake, carrot jelly; good theme but without the cinnamon ice-cream, I don’t know if I would enjoy this dish.  Though its overall presentation couldn’t be more lovely.

On this visit, we had special beer.  I have never heard of it ever before.  Estrella Damm Inedit is the name.  For a bottle of 750 ml, it cost 560 baht – expensive but surely worth the try.  This beer is originally from Barcelona, Spain.  So stylish it was; bottled in champagne like bottle, intended to enjoy in a wine glass, and recommended to keep chilled in ice bucket.  The color – like a lager; the taste – very smooth with a hint of wheat flavor; very easy to drink, I actually liked it a lot.  At Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC, there are plenty of beer selections if you didn’t want to go exclusive with the Estralla Damm.  Weihenstephaner Hefe from Germany is available during the Happy Hour – 2 pints for 350 baht.

To conclude about this incredible feast at the Aston Gastro Bar @ CDC, every dish was uniquely created.  Each one had a strong focus, which would be memorable for diners.  I couldn’t beg for more being in a community mall.  I have been to a few restaurants in the CDC and the Aston Gastro Bar must be the best one so far.  Good food, good service, reasonably priced, and the fact that my friendly and I were exceptionally fortunate to meet Chef Zra; the whole experience at the Aston Gastro Bar was absolutely impressive.  If you haven’t been there, you really are missing out, seriously!

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