There’s a reason why Saawaan has been awarded a Michelin star by the prestigious Michelin Bangkok guide. Yes, the name of the restaurant means “heaven” in Thai, and yes, you are going to feel closer to the stars after a meal here, but you also can count on an intimate fine dining experience that features authentic and creative Thai cuisine that is simply some of the best in Bangkok, prepared by a wildly talented chef.
Saawaan’s 10-course tasting menu is divided into dishes that represent all of the concepts and techniques found across the board in Thai cooking. You’ll get to sample raw, fermented, dip, boiled, grilled, stir fried, curry, and sweet here, and the fun starts before you even get to the menu. The complimentary starter, an amuse bouche of “kai luk koei,” a sous vide egg served with cream, tamarind sauce and chili oil, that comes served as if in a bird’s nest. It’s small and delicate, but packs such a wildly wonderful array of flavours, and sets the tone for what lies ahead.
Chef Sujira “Aom” Pongmorn, who runs a skilled kitchen team, has an incredible knowledge of Thai cuisine, and has put in time with some of Bangkok’s most noted dining establishments, such as Sra Bua, Issaya Siamese, The House on Sathorn, Lord Jim at the Mandarin Oriental, and more recently running the show at the Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded Baan Padthai. Here at Saawaan, she showcases regional dishes found at street level that have been elevated to some of the most delectable tastes you’ll find across the country.
Take the “nam pu ma”, served as the “dip” dish. This comes from rural Thailand, where farmers would make grilled paddy crab fat into a “nam prik” chili dip and eat it with sticky rice. Here, Chef Pongmorn has mixed the paddy crab fat with Thai herbs and grilled them in the crab shell, and it gets served with coconut steamed sticky rice.
Another total standout is the “gai kati khao luem pua,” a chicken curry in which free range chickens from Nakhon Pathom are flavored with a Central Thai curry sauce and served with pineapple and bamboo shoot, alongside of what is known as “forget the husband” rice, so called because it is so good that the housewife serving it would forget her husband was also at the dinner table while she was eating it! From presentation to the creamy curry and perfect spice balances, this is the final course prior to dessert, and pretty much sums up the entire experience here, one of total dining bliss.
You’ll also want to leave room for dessert, as Bangkok’s most noted pastry chef, Arisara “Paper” Chongphanitkul, a graduate of the French Gastronomicom culinary school, lends her expertise to the sweets here, serving up pumpkin and coconut custards alongside of durian-flavored chocolate petit fours to close out the evening.
Add to this Bangkok’s best wine pairings to be found, attentive service, and the intimate surroundings, which feature just six tables, dim mood lighting, and an open kitchen, and you’ve got all the trappings of one unforgettable “heavenly” evening.
Recommended for Restaurants with Michelin Stars because: For Bangkok’s best combo of authentic and creative Thai cooking, intimate ambience, and Michelin-starred cuisine, Saawaan really does mean “heaven.”
Dave’s expert tip: There are only 24 seats here, so best to reserve in advance. Note that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and that last orders are at 930pm. The closest BTS and MRT stations are Sala Daeng and Lumphini, but you’ll still need to grab a taxi for the short ride over to Suan Plu. Saawaan is just on your left as you head down Suan Plu.