Bangkok Restaurant Review: Bo.lan

Posted by on Dec 29, 2014 in Travel | 1 comment

There are a few times in life when you will have a dining experience so exceptional you’ll be smiling for days afterwards at the memory of it.  My dinner at Bo.lan was one of those rare occasions. 

My entire review of Bo.lan could be the following two sentences: Phenomenal. Put it at the top of your dining bucket list.

However, that wouldn’t be doing it justice. 

In the weeks since, I’ve relived my experience at Bo.lan with many of my friends and family by showing them pictures and recounting the exquisiteness of each and every dish. I admit, that might be a little unfair of me. It almost feels like I’m gloating when I do. But dear friends, it’s really just because I’ve rarely eaten at a place that has inspired this level of visceral excitement. 

Bo.lan is an omni restaurant that offers a plant-based menu. The chefs, Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones, are committed to delivering Thai food that is both based on tradition and reimagined. They work with local producers and are working towards environmental sustainability, with the goal of being zero-carbon by 2018. 

You have the choice of a brief menu, or the full Bo.lan Botanicals experience, which of course is what I chose. And the best thing? When I asked whether they could accommodate gluten-free me as I made my reservation, they said yes without any hesitation.  

Bo.Lan's Plant-Based Menu

Bo.Lan’s Plant-Based Menu

I was greeted with a herbal drink of pandanus leaf juice and lemongrass and snacks. I’m a little in love with pandanus leaf juice and with the lemongrass it was spectacular. Not too sweet and extremely refreshing.

Pandanus Juice and Lemongrass

Pandanus Juice and Lemongrass

Among the various snacks, the crispy rice with chilies and herbs was my favorite. It was a little spicy and a little sweet. I had to remind myself not to eat everything put before me at that stage, knowing that there was so much more to come. 

Candied Rice Crackers

Candied Rice Crackers

Crispy Rice with Chilies and Herbs

Crispy Rice with Chilies and Herbs

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

The first course was a Thai rice spirit, paired with pandanus juice and sour fruits-cucumber, green mango and tamarind-along with chili and salt for dipping.

Ya dong grachai dum served with local sour fruits

Ya dong grachai dum served with local sour fruits

I’m not a big alcohol drinker and had the spirit been served on its own, I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed it. But paired with a sip of the pandanus juice, I did. 

When they delivered this gorgeous amuse bouche I knew that if this was the start of the meal, it would be hitting heavenly heights. 

Bo.lan Amuse Bouche

Bo.lan Amuse Bouche

It’s hard to say what I liked the most.  The wafer with curry spices was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. The mushroom ball with ginger and cabbage was just amazing.  The herb salad with shallots, garlic, chili, lime and soy was spicy, but delicious.  The crispy rice cake with shallots, herbs, chili and a sweet sauce was bursting with flavor. And the rice dumpling with sweet and salty coconut filling: Wow. 

The single plate of the day was a curry with rice noodles, banana flower, cucumber  and local vegetables.

Bolan single plate of the day.

Bo.lan Single Plate of the Day

I was instructed to combine vegetables with noodles, pour the curry sauce over it all, and stir to combine. It was incredibly pleasurable. 

Bo.lan Single Plate of the Day, Assembled

Bo.lan Single Plate of the Day, Assembled

For the main course I was offered brown rice or jasmine, and I chose the brown. As the dishes were served, I was told not to eat a full dish at a time, but to combine them and enjoy a little of each. 

Southern style ‘red turmeric’ soup with lotus shoots

Southern style ‘red turmeric’ soup with lotus shoots 

The soup was lovely: loaded with ginger, tumeric, kafir lime leaves and cilantro in a light broth with mushrooms and lotus shoots. It was extremely well balanced. 

Isaan Style Curry of Local Vegetables

Isaan Style Curry of Local Vegetables

At first I thought this curry was mild because flavors are subtle. But then came the heat. The beautifully cooked veggies made this curry purely delightful.

Preserved Tofu Relish

Preserved Tofu Relish

The absolute star of the main meal was the preserved tofu relish with chili, cilantro and lemongrass. Oh my! I couldn’t get enough of it. The flavors were incredibly intense, but amazing. 

Stir-fried mushroom and young palm heart with holy basil

Stir-fried mushroom and young palm heart with holy basil

Thai mushrooms are truly exceptional, and this stir-fry made them shine.  I loved the nice big yellow chili, which of course I bit into with abandon.  This dish was sheer perfection.  

Salad of grilled banana blossom

Salad of grilled banana blossom

The banana flower salad, topped with crispy shallots had a lovely balance of flavors: nutty, sweet, sour, and salty. topped with crispy shallots. Yum. 

The meal was deeply satisfying. Every bite had a different, beautiful flavor profile. I was pretty much in bliss at that point. 

And then, the multi-part dessert extravaganza happened. 

Pre-Dessert

Pre-Dessert

The pre-dessert was snake fruit in syrup with pomelo, mango and ginger and crushed ice, served with a rice cake in a beautiful caramel with coconut and nuts. It was sublime. There was a smokiness to the rice cake that was just gorgeous. 

Bolan Dessert
Dessert was a delicious pineapple dumpling in coconut cream. Give me anything in coconut cream and I’m in my element. 

That should have been enough.  

But this, my friends, this was the most spectacular grand finale… 

Bo.lan Petit Fours

Bo.lan Petit Fours

And the back...

And the back…

I am a sucker for Thai desserts. All of them. And this was just over the top: guava with salt, a sweet wafers, Bo.lan candy, tapioca pearls in pandanus juice with coconut, and so much more. Joy. That’s all I can say. 

Bo.lan Tea

Bo.lan Tea

As I sat sipping my tea, I felt extremely satisfied. I’m sure I had  a big grin plastered on my face. And at that moment, Dylan walked by and shot me a smile.

The whole experience was like a well choreographed dance. It was beautiful.

And that, is why I can say without reservation that this was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had or every likely will again. 

Yes, Bo.lan is truly phenomenal. It’s worth flying for. Put it at the top of your dining bucket list. 

Location: House number 24, Soi Sukhumvit 63, Klong Toey Nua Wattana, Bangkok

Hours:
Lunch: Thursday-Sunday 12.00 to 2.30pm
Dinner: Tuesday-Sunday 6.00 to 10.30pm

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One Comment

  1. What a gorgeous meal.

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