“I never want to eat in a restaurant, ever again.”
These words shook me up a little bit, when a food lover I know uttered them the other night. We were eating outside, sharing another great outdoor meal in a city full of them. I have recently shared that same feeling, when eating in Bangkok. The food and the laid back, anything-goes vibe of street eating here is so tangibly pleasing that I very rarely dine any other way. When I want to go upscale, I cook at home, ice down the wine, and splurge on the cheeses. Otherwise, you’ll find me outside, plastic plate and silver spooning it.
But my singular love affair
with street food had to end sometime, and it did this week, in a most unlikely
place. Atop the Centara Grand Hotel, at one of Bangkok’s handful of rooftop
eateries, Red Sky. The meal there was far from perfect, but one dish stood out so
much that it restored my faith in the Bangkok Western Restaurant.
It wasn’t terribly original, or particularly beautiful, but it was the sort of luxurious dish that justifies the fine dining experience, and brings out the best in a jarringly overpriced wine. It was a little slab of slowly roasted pork belly, deeply infused with garlic and sitting in a splash of red wine reduction, with a perfectly seared oval of foie gras on top, sprinkled with crunchy sea salt. A few tiny scoops of sour apple sat beside it. When eaten at once, it was silky, fatty, extravagant and fabulous – sort of like Elvis in the Las Vegas years.
And it made me want to eat in restaurants again.