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Friday, October 5, 2012

Bolan Thai Restaurant - Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok

Bo.lan - Premium Thai Restaurant at Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok

Overall Score  7/10
Taste   3.5/5
Ambiance  4.5/5
Service  4/5
Value   2/5

Bo.lan - Essentially Thai Restaurant on BumRes.com

Prior to going to dine at the Bolan at Soi Sukhumvit 26, I didn’t know anything about the restaurant at all.  I only heard the name from my friend.  I saw an article in the magazine, Eating Out which had an interview on the farang owner.  I finally made the decision to try it out.  I had a feeling that it was going to be pricey when I first called for make a reservation.  I asked for a table for two at 6pm but the staff told me that the table would be available at 8.30pm.  It was surprising to me that this restaurant would be fully booked on a weekday.  I arrived at the Bolan and they also had the Valet Parking service (must be added to the food prices).  When I saw that the restaurant was full of foreigners, I thought to myself, “oh crap, am I in the tourist trap?”  

The Bolan or Bo.lan is owned and operated by a married couple.  The wife’s name is Bo and the husband’s name is Dylan, so it came together as Bo.lan.  I have no idea why this restaurant is so popular among expatriates.  There were no Thai customers at all on my visit.  The menu of this restaurant changes seasonally.  On my visit, it was the menu of July and September of 2012.  Bolan’s concentration is on the quality ingredient.  They advertised all the ingredients with full details, such as what city the meat is from, what type of rice it is and where it is from.  It was something that I would expect to see in premium Japanese restaurants.  I heard that the owners go out to buy the ingredients every single day in order to get the best quality available.  I was told that the chef here pays attention to a lot of little details.  I can see that their target market is the foreigners with money.  So, all of these characters can be simply summarized to one word, pricey.    

Bolan serves both styles; a la carte and set menu.  Detail of the menu is available in the tab menu as usual.  However, be advised that this restaurant changes the menu seasonally.  So, when you go there, the menu may not be the same as my visit.  I believe that they will probably have a few typical choices that are always available.  I am also sure that their price will not get any lower.  The most expensive set is called Bo.lan Balance, costs 1,680++ baht (around 2,000 baht).  To make the choice of a la carte or set menu, everyone in the same table has to agree to go one way or the other.  If I wanted to get the set but my friends didn’t want to, we couldn’t be on the same table.  I don’t like how they mandate like this.  I have experienced this before at the Gaggan @ Langsuan but I didn’t mind because their food was fantastic.  There is a Mini Bo.lan Balance as well, for the price of 1,380++ per person.  For a la carte choices, I saw the price in the menu and I just wanted to walk out.  The price was around 500++.  My friend and I finally decided to order the Bo.lan Balance.  We wanted to find out what they really have to offer.   

In the set, there were two appetizers; Ya dong grachai dum served with sour fruits and Bo.lan amuse bouche.  In terms of flavoring, both of these didn’t impress me at all.  I was more intrigued by its presentation.  It was beautifully arranged just like a fine French dish.  The server explained to us about the ingredients and how everything came together.  For the beauty, I suppose it was worth the price.  However, the beauty wasn’t edible.  The taste was nothing attractive to me at all.

For main course in the set, we had a few choices.  The first one was the Salad of herbal-fed Thai chicken from “Karnjanaburi” with assorted Thai herbs and crispy organic egg.  The second was the Salted Spanish mackerel simmered in coconut cream with prawn accompanied with stuffed local flower and battered greens.  The third one was the Cassia leaf & flowery curry with slow cooked “KU” beef accompanied with pickled mustard green chili relish and pickled garlic.  In additional, I got to choose one bowl of soup.  I chose the soup of red turmeric and herbal-fed Thai chicken.   

At first glance, the main course still looked like Thai food.  I thought it was going to be the strange Thai like the Srabua @ Siam Kempinski.  Some menu actually appeared to be very traditional Thai but I wasn’t so impressed with the taste at all.  Fortunately we had one dish that was overtly delicious, the salted Spanish mackerel in coconut cream.  In Thai, we call this menu Lon.  It must be one of the best Lon I have ever had.  The Lon I had at Nahm was also good but this one was better.  With the thorough detail of every ingredient in the menu, it raised the value of the dish higher.  I must admit that I have had the simple Tom Yum Gai elsewhere that was much more enjoyable than this fancy Thai soup with herbal-fed chicken from Karnchanaburi at Bo.lan.  The origin or the name obviously didn’t make the food any more delicious at all.  

For dessert, we had three choices.  The first one was the Wan Wan Yen Yen (Bo.lan pre-dessert).  The second was the Bo.lan dessert dujour.  The last one was the Petit fours to accompany a cup of Bo.lan blend.  After the disappointment with some of the main dishes, the desserts actually rescued the scene with its beautiful decoration and its delightful taste.  It was wonderful even though the portion was so tiny.  My friend was a big dessert fan, so she had most of it.  I was already full from the main dishes, so I only get a quick taste of everything.

To conclude, the Bo.lan – Essentially Thai was a good Thai restaurant that had a top notch service, the beautiful food, and the magnificent atmosphere.  All of which was somewhat worth the high price paid.  I was wondering if Bo.lan actually intended to present this kind of light flavor to please the foreign palates.  All I can say that this flavor will not please the local diners, especially the flavors of main course.  Nonetheless, Bo.lan did a great job on the dessert.  Now that I think of it, I should have asked the kitchen to kick it up a notch to please the Thai customers.  Well, it was my only chance at Bo.lan because I probably won’t go back there again.  For 4,000 baht to get the romantic atmosphere and beautiful, I rather spend my money to feast on other nice Thai restaurants less expensive or enjoy premium sushi at Japanese restaurants instead.  

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