Packed with temptation, Iconsiam’s restaurant zone Alangkarn quite literally spoils diners for choice
ALANGKARN – means “splendour” – is a new dining zone in the Iconsiam mega-mall offering diverse cuisine including Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and French at more than 30 restaurants and cafes spread across the sixth floor.
The interior design is based on the concept of Thai rice, considered the heart of Thai food. The focal point is a tall waterfall playing with a kaleidoscope of lights. Rice paddies and rice barns as well as trees and water plants lend natural accents.
The dining zone Alangkarn at Iconsiam offers a diversity of culinary journeys to meet different taste preferences.
When it comes to spicy and tasty Isaan classics and fresh seafood, look no further than Lay Lao, whose first outlet on Soi Ari has been awarded the Michelin Guide Bangkok’s Bib Gourmand, representing value-for-money, for two consecutive years.
Hailing from the seaside getaway of Hua Hin, owner Panawat Chinwit knows how to find the best seafood around his hometown. Shrimp, squid and sea bass are freshly delivered from Hua Hin and Pranburi, while blue crab comes mainly from Surat Thani.
Lay Lao offers pungent taste of Isaan-style dishes with fresh seafood.
“My family loves cooking food with a pungent kick,” Panawat says. “People loved our family recipes and they urged us to open an eatery in Bangkok. We cook and serve it exactly the same way we do at home. The Ari outlet is four years old and has continuously received positive feedback, so now we’re ready to open a second branch at the mall.”
Panawat and his team personally buy vegetables and fruit at Bangkok’s Talad Thai market, rather than relying on food suppliers, to make sure they get the freshest produce.
“Many of our dishes are seasoned with aromatic palm sugar from Phetchaburi, which gives a pleasantly well-balanced flavour because it’s traditionally charcoal-simmered. We have to order a year in advance because they only produce a small quantity. The crab comes from a ‘crab bank’ project in Pranburi initiated by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol as a sustainable fishery.”
The menu at the 55-seat eatery offers 200-plus items, some exclusive to Iconsiam. A gluten-free selection is also available.
Deep-fried Squid with Secret Sauce (Bt265-Bt525) involves critters caught at sea and kept free of the oxidising bleach sometimes used to make it look fresh.
“We fry the squid stuffed with squid roe once and then again with sweet-and-sour sauce seasoned with palm sugar and lemon juice,” says Panawat. “It’s served with spicy seafood sauce that’s made fresh every day.”
Green Mango Salad with Raw Black Crab
The irresistible Green Mango Salad with Raw Black Crab (Bt480) features shredded, raw and tangy nam dok mai mango cooked with raw black crab and its roe from Surat Thani. It’s seasoned with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and palm sugar and fired up with chillies.
Sweet Corn Salad with Grilled River Prawn
Sweet Corn Salad with Grilled River Prawn (Bt550) is a large prawn perfectly grilled over smokeless charcoal to retain its juiciness and tenderness. It comes with spicy corn salad mixed with green apple, tomato and avocado.
Gaeng Som Prik Sod
A Hua Hin dish, Gaeng Som Prik Sod (Spicy and Sour Soup with Fresh Chilli, Bt235) cooked with sea bass and holy basil leaves has just the right combination of sweet, sour and spicy flavours. The chilli paste is seasoned with shrimp paste and palm sugar and the tartness comes from tamarind and lemon juice.
The resulting flavour is somewhere between gaeng run juan (hot and spicy soup seasoned with shrimp paste) and tom som (sweet-and-sour tamarind soup).
The famed Chinese restaurant Grand Palace brings its Cantonese feasts to the posh mall.
Lovers of Cantonese food will be pleased to find a third outlet of Grand Palace, one of Bangkok’s famed Chinese restaurants. The 33-year-old original on Mahesak Road is renowned for its dim sum and Peking duck.
Dim Sum Basket
At Iconsiam there’s a wonderful variety in the Dim Sum Basket (Bt235) – five mouth-watering choices. You get har gau (shrimp dumpling), steamed sumai with shrimp and crabmeat, fried dumpling stuffed with minced pork and shrimp and a rainbow bun with alternating layers of cream custard and salted egg cream.
Ideal for both the solo diner and couples is the small size of Peking Duck (Bt450). The crispy skin is cut into seven pieces and served with steamed pancakes and sticks of cucumber and spring onion. Varying from the usual sweet bean sauce condiment, Grand Palace opts for black sweet soy sauce.
Steamed Rice with Crabmeat in Curry Powder
Hungry diners should try the Steamed Rice with Crabmeat in Curry Powder (Bt270). It’ a large bowl of rice topped with well-seasoned crabmeat and more steamed crabmeat on top of that.
Thai dessert cafes are gaining popularity against Western and Japanese-style treats. The compact Waan Phor Dee, which literally means “properly sweet”, is one such choice offering a range of traditional Thai desserts with exquisite preparation and authentic taste.
The small cafe Waan Phor Dee offers a range of Thai traditional desserts.
Nuttinee Wongchalermtarn and her partner opened the first Waan Phor Dee in Chiang Mai and it quickly became so successful that they were invited to open another at Iconsiam.
So far there are 10 tasty items on the menu at prices Bt30 to Bt40 higher than what you pay in Chiang Mai.
“The recipes are based on centuries of collective wisdom,” says Nuttinee. “It’s a risky business because of the very short shelf-life of Thai sweets – because coconut cream and coconut flesh do not keep – and the attention to detail in preparation, but we want to serve Thai desserts like Grandma used to make.”
Pailin Siam (Bt85) has small water-chestnut “jewels” coated with tapioca flour in the appealing shade of blue sapphire, sitting in flavoured coconut milk with colourful, sweet, thin noodles and topped with frozen coconut cream.
Khao Fang Piak Lamyai
Served warm is Khao Fang Piak Lamyai (Bt85). Millet seeds from Chiang Mai are boiled in water flavoured with pandan leaves and seasoned with sugar, salt and longan flesh and juice.
A separate shot of coconut milk is presented for customers to adjust the flavour, and a skewer of cubed coconut flesh makes a chewy side snack.
Puak Chuem (Taro in Syrup), Guay Chuem (Candied Banana Topped With Coconut Milk), Sago Piak Lamyai (Sago and Longan with Flavoured Coconut Milk) and Krong Krang (Caramelised Crisps in Coconut Milk) go for Bt85 a pop, while Khao Niew Mamuang (Mango with Sticky Rice) costs Bt250.
MORNING TO EVENING
Alangkarn is at Iconsiam on the Thon Buri side of Bangkok and open daily from 10 to 10.
Learn more about Lay Lao, Grand Palace and Waan Phor Dee on their Facebook pages sharing their names.