Nahm is the much celebrated temple to Thai cuisine in The Halkin hotel just off Belgrave Square. The décor has been described as more Crown Plaza than Crown Prince, but the minimalist and calm dining room allows the food to be the star of the show. The full house, however, spoke volumes about the quality of food we were about to receive.
The waiting staff expertly explained how to approach the menu: there were two options – one set menu of street food or an à carte la menu or Nahm Arharn, a traditional Thai meal where diners choose a dish from each category to share, which means half the menu can be covered between two of you. Greedy and indecisive, my companion and I requested dishes from both menus, and although not technically allowed, they indulged us anyway.
To prepare our palate we were brought minced chicken, pork, peanut and pineapple on mandarin – a crunchy paste that was stuffed inside a mandarin segment. The two of us cocked our heads in disbelief when our waitress described what this teaser was, not quite sure how the concoction would taste. My dining companion refused at first (the extent of his gastronomic repertoire was fish fingers with melted cheese) and so I slowly dropped a mandarin slice in my mouth. We should have had more faith – it was a sweet and savoury explosion of clean Thai flavours and we hoovered the remainder up.
The table was then laden with salted chicken wafers with longans and Thai basil, a grilled beef salad with mint and roasted rice and a hot and sour soup with mussels, turmeric and coriander. Each dish was delicately constructed but containing firey flavours. The chicken came as little wraps of gently curried moreish treats while the salad offered slithers of perfectly rare beef with some fiery hot chilli and cleansing mint. After mouthfuls of beef alternated with the sour and dynamite infused chili hot soup, there were beads of sweat soon dripping off the end of my nose, but my taste buds demanded more.
The heat continued like a Claxton to the back of the head with a red curry of green peppercorns with beef and holy basil and stir fried minced beef with fried egg and chillies. Despite epic amounts of fierce heat, we could taste every layer of curry, lemongrass, ginger and sweet basil flavours in these dishes. I was not quite sure how I managed to keep going back for more mouthfuls of the delicious clean flavours, but as soon as the heat had hit us, it left just moments after the plates were taken away. Luckily the flavours did not.
Delicious, oozy puddings of coconut cake and coconut and tarot completed our trip through Bangkok’s famed food markets.
Around for over 10 years now, diners keep coming back to Nahm for the excellent food. Beautifully composed, these powerful flavours will remain in your memory for some time to come.