Whale’s Belly – Best Unlimited Tasting Menu – Unpretentious Fine Dining

IMG_0186
Comfy and Beautifully Cosy

On our way to another restaurant we spotted the Poster of Whale’s Belly.  All you can eat weekend brunch chosen from their Brunch menu.  The pictures looked very well presented and in dainty portions.  We detoured and set for the restaurant.  The warm welcome that we received from the staff already signaled the level of service for this restaurant.  Warm. Inviting. Sincere. Unpretentious.  This was a 10/10 for me already.

The drinks menu ranged from cocktails, imported mineral waters, juices, beers, virgin cocktails and coffee all ranging from 150 onward.  Let me say that the honey lime soda was exceptional and worth it’s price.  It was fresh, and well balanced drink – To make it perfect i think is very hard which they executed perfectly.

IMG_0161
Starter Menu

 

They have a nice variety of choices that should satisfy everyone – Maybe some more non fish options would be nice but considering it’s called Whale’s Belly maybe the lean was on seafood.  We ordered the Tuna, Salmon Tartare and Onsen Egg to Start with a Lobster Bisque and the Truffle Soup to start and nibbled on warm I think Charcoal and Sunflower seed bread with salted butter in a nice swirl pat.  I appreciate the spreadable butter still cold but not rock hard.  I believe that in fine dining restaurant this should be something that is cared about.  10/10 again.

IMG_0164
Delicious, warm and crunchy with the Sunflower Seeds.

Our first three starters arrived in succession.  The salmon tartare was a pretty sight, i appreciate the generous topping of ikura. Sometimes chefs think garnishes are really a garnish but i think if it’s on something it contribute to the taste at least.  If you are going to add an ingredient make sure you can taste it.  And yes the saltiness of the eggs counterbalanced the creamy wasabi dressing and the yuzu cut through your tongue plus the firmness of the salmon was very good.  I liked the fluffy chip on top for some texture.  It was a bit different from most Parmesan chips i had this one was definitely fluffy. It was a great start definitely.

IMG_0165
Delicious!

Now on to our Iron Chef winning dish.  It really peaked our interest that this dish won – It came in a very pretty looking noodle spiral and the chunks of tuna on top.

IMG_0167
Iron Chef Winner!

I like how the layers work together – The Blue crab was not watery and tasted like fresh gulp of the sea.  I admit i think there was a bit too much capellini but it was al dente and felt like those HK abalone noodles in texture.  The lumpfish caviar helped with the saltiness and the tuna was fresh and dense with flavor.  This time the yuzu is cut with a more intense peppery taste.  I like the spice factor with this dish.  But less noodles.  Let’s say this portion is 2 bites – Perfect for sharing.

IMG_0168
Beautiful Beautiful Onsen Egg

Our third course was the warm onsen egg with beurre blanc and crispy bacon pieces.  Even though i prefer a more sharper beurre blanc but this dish had a dimension of creaminess although not overpowering until it was too creamy.  The crispy bacon bits gave that nice crunch with every bite.  Only problem is it wasn’t a 62 degree egg.  I think the yolk over cooked somehow.  I think the problem with Bangkok is fresh eggs are a bit hard to find.  To find a new egg to make that perfectly poached egg with complete whites will holding together if a bit difficult.

IMG_7546

I think maybe it waited a bit too long in the sou vide and the yolk set.  All in all it’s still a beautiful dish and tasted how eggs should.  Creamy, buttery and bacony.  9/10

IMG_7547
Almond Slivers works so well with Mushroom Soup…. Heavenly!

I’m not a truffle oil fan.  Usually it’s artificially flavored you can feel the fakeness of the oil.  Mushrooms on the other hand i love.  I think it’s the combination of mushrooms used to make a soup sometimes it feels grainy.  This was a thick watery puree of well made mushroom pillowy goodness.  The milk foam on top lent that pillowy feel. Then you crunch on an almond sliver.  This is the best mushroom soup i ever had.  Truffle oil… Not so much.  But they should rename this the Best Mushroom Soup ever… Period.  It didn’t even need the truffle oil.

 

IMG_0173
Hints of  Booze.  My favorite flavour.

Lobster bisque is a tricky thing. That delicate creaminess and lobster taste with the booze.  There must be a balance.  I’m not a fan of those heavy roux based soups.  Sometimes the flour is too much and you can taste the uncooked roux or it’s just too thick and not in a good way.  This bisque was made well – Balanced Boozy , creamy mouth feel with a sweetness i figure from the carrots.  Slightly too sweet for my liking but as mentioned i like boozy bisques.  Everyone mopped the bowl clean with the bread.  Every foodie has a mean streak.  Either they like to complicate menus just to see how the chef will perform or ask for crazy food combos.  I do the opposite.

IMG_0162
Main Course & Desserts

I like to order the most basic thing on the menu and see how well they performed.  Thus this is what i ordered to test the chef…. Can you guess?

 

IMG_0181
Spaghetti – Garlic – Chilli

Spaghetti Aglio – I never understood why it was so appealing until i went to Italy.  Before it was an oil bland tasting dish.  But Italy was another story.  I must say Whale’s Belly impressed me.  I would prefer a bit more garlic and a more firmer pasta but they had that nice balance of dried chillies, basil and the dried tomatoes for a bit of a kick.  Although i wouldn’t call this traditional it was done well.  I dare to say better than 90 percent of the ones i tasted in Bangkok.  Good Job.  Maybe a smaller portion with the same ingredients would have made this a 10.  Let’s throw another curve ball to the chef with another annoying dish made so badly in many restaurants it’s a pity.

IMG_0182
Proudly created in Mexico

I doubt that alot of people know that it’s created in Mexico – Although the owner was Italian American but it’s not a traditional dish per se. A Caesar salad done well is a nother rarity.  Usually it’s over dressed, or too little dressing – too sharp tasting – too watery.  I think the perfect Caesar salad is right here.  Salads need to be done right.  Each leaf cleaned dried and coated with just the amount of dressing and served right away.  Balance of saltiness – sharpness – creaminess i like a heavier hand of anchovies but this is a perfect salad.

IMG_0166
Fresh greens – Lightly dressed – Didn’t overpower the crab.

Lovely – Totally Ethereal feel.  The crab was light and tasted of the sea and not waterlogged which seems to be a big problem many times we had a crab salad.  Very well done. The rocket was fresh – dressed and gave that not overpowering bitterness to compliment the crab. The dressing was a fruity lightness that really went well and made this dish a 10.

The raviolis came under a puffy cloud of milk foam.  Well i presume it’s milk foam.  The buttery taste felt like creamy savory warm milk shake.  Fluffy and not dense and heavy.  I like that there was a lot of stuffing and the spinach was well seasoned.  Sometimes you get a spinach ravioli which is a watery yucky mess.

Finally on to the main course…..

IMG_0177
Best Sea Bass Ever!

Sea Bass is so plentiful in Thailand it became a boring fish.  It’s everywhere.  So again, let’s see how the chefs here made it amazing.  Firstly Sea Bass is quite a delicate fish – You over cook it and it’s tough.  At Whale’s Belly they made the skin so crispy like you can hear it popping between you teeth.  Like you were eating a very thin pork belly in HK.  Fluffy Ethereal crunch of dry crispiness deliciousness.  The meat was not overcooked at all.  The thin fillet was a yin yang of crispy and soft flakiness.  I see the base creamy sauce here in alot of the dishes with a few tweaks to make the taste not boring so I think it’s not a crime that isn’t unforgiving.  This is the best Sea Bass i had in a not Asian Way.  it’s a 20/10 dish.  I think the next time we come we’d have 10 of this.

IMG_7554
Intense Sweet Peppery Sauce combined with the smoothest potato puree…

Lamb Chops are everybody’s favorite dish.  My mom in particular.  She wont eat lamb any other way.  It’s because stewed lamb has a tendency to become stringy and dry.  I stopped making lamb stew at home cause she wont eat it.  Period.  To my surprise.  This lamb shoulder was dense and moist enough not to be dry and stringy.  IT was tender and delicate.  Then the peppery, sweet rich sauce kicks in to flavour the dish.  The black pepper has that bitter spiciness which can stand up to the strong flavour of the lamb.  I’m not sure if the Chef learned the insane Potato Puree from Joel Robouchon – It was such a smooth light buttery heaven that just mixes with everything and takes it to another level.  Maybe a danger to your heart but it would sure mend a broken one.

IMG_0178
Rolled Pickled Daikon – Wish there was more of it on the plate!

The Wagyu Cheek was alright – I think it was the superbness of all the dishes that made this poor Wagyu last.  We actually ate in order – Fish, Beef and Lamb as to not overpower our palate.  Poor Wagyu – The delicate pickled roll up daikon which cut so sweetly with a balanced sourness through the red wine sauce and the pull apart cheek shed a poor tear when he heard us discussing we like the other two dishes more.  It wasn’t his fault poor thing – sometimes getting a 9.5/10 just isn’t enough.

IMG_0183
Complimentary Fresh Oysters – Check in and get 2! VERY GOOD!

With barely enough room for dessert the 3 of us managed 1 Brownie and 1 Affrogato.  I like crusty brownies.  I’m not a fan of oily rich brownie mixes that half of what you are eating is vegetable oil.  I like dark rich crusty brownies which puts up a fight with the cold ice cream.

IMG_7571
Perfect Brownie Dessert

With sucha heavy meal i was hoping the espresso will wake me up.

It came in a cute little up with chocolately crumbs on top.  The espresso was so rich rich rich.  The ice cream did it’s best to soften the blow and you chomp your way through delicious balls of crunchy cookie / chocolately bits.  It’s a dessert.  Not a drink.

I would say for this price range it was one of the best tasting menus made to order meals i’d ever had.  You can spend the same somewhere else and get a crappy pizza and half hearted pasta with rushed service.  Are we coming again?  Definitely.  Will i spread the word around? I promise.  Thank You Whale’s Belly for reminding me and Bangkok what 5 star service and a fine dining experience for a reasonable price looks like.

IMG_0185

*** Review is entirely from my point of view and we paid for our own food.

Whale’s Belly Restaurant & Bar

39 Boulevard Tower, 2nd floor, Sukhumvit Soi 39,

Sukhumvit Road | Boulevard Tower A

Bangkok 10110, Thailand

Homey French Birthday Dinner at JP French Restaurant (Bangkok)

Specialties of the Day!
Specialties of the Day!

Reservations at Gaggans proved to be a difficult task since they were completely full, maybe due to the fact they ranked 3rd place in the Top 50 resetaurants of Asia.  Which to my prior experience there, Chef Gaggan Anand deserves every accolade there is, but without any regret I had the chance to suggest a French Bistro in its stead.  JP French was talked about by many groups of people being homey comfort food at acceptable pricing.  I felt it came along the lines of Chez Pape (one of my favorites located in Soi 11) simple ingredients cooked well.  Ok this is what we ate;

  1. Complimentary Amuse Bouche, one with parma ham and one with a pate.  I liked both, the pate was very dense and intense flavoured but not over powering.  Good Job!

    Duo of Amuse Bouche
    Duo of Amuse Bouche
  2. Lobster Bisque – A bit flat but tastes were fine, i preferred a creamier or a heavier bisque.  Mushroom soup is as is, mushroom.  Cream and a intense intense mushroom taste, very earthy and a great comfort food.

    Not a bad bisque
    Not a bad bisque
  3. Frogs Legs – Dad ordered it, too adventurous for me actually but they said it was just like in France.

    Looked really yummy and well presented.  Smelt lovely btw....
    Looked really yummy and well presented. Smelt lovely btw….
  4. Escargots – Over baked, it came out dried and chewy.  Sad, i usually have a thing for snails.  The buttery herby topping was under seasoned and the poor snail was well not good. A sad miss.

    Wish it was better...
    Wish it was better…
  5. The JP Chef Salad comes packed with a poached egg, slices of smoked duck breast, parma ham, duck confit and some foi gras pate on toast and of course the salad.  Personally I’m not a fan of the salad dressing, it was a clear but doesn’t really taste French to me (my preference is towards a more mustardy taste), ill admit however with hot baguettes you can turn this into a heavy lunch or a light dinner.

    Well packed with many great ingredients.  Foi Gras... Yum!
    Well packed with many great ingredients. Foi Gras… Yum!
  6. Hot Goats cheese Salad – Same salad but topped with generous goats cheese, again the goats cheese wasn’t as expected, it turned out dry.  Usually it should have been a crispy topping and a melty oozy character, this was dry and brittle.
    A sad miss...
    A sad miss…

    As seen there were a few hits and misses but so far I would rate this dinner going at a strong 6, and a 10 for service and hospitality now on to the main courses:

    1. Duck Confit – Crispy, meaty, moist.  Definite 10 10 10 10 10

      Delish!
      Delish!
    2. Steak Tartar – A hit more mustard, tabasco, salt and less gerkins this dish was also a star.  The meat was of great flavor nd quality you could taste the meat.  It has a presence even over so many of the other ingredients in the dish, alas too much capers and gerkins, i had to pick them out.

      My favorite dish of all time!
      My favorite dish of all time!
    3. Spaghetti with seafood and tomato sauce.  Not bad, but not exactly a dish to reorder.  Too tomatoey and dry.  It’s hard to explain but pasta lovers will understand exactly what i’m saying.  You couldn’t taste the seafood and the pasta was overcooked.

      A tough dish to master... really...
      A tough dish to master… really…
    4. Beef Tenderloin – As you can see in the picture it was a big hunk of meat, nicely seared and perfectly cooked.  A 2 thumbs up.  The beef here is of great quality!

      The tenderloin was huge! Compare it to the gravy boat!
      The tenderloin was huge! Compare it to the gravy boat!

    As mentioned earlier, we said the hospitality was great and it was true!  We had a complimentary creme brulee with candle compliments of the owner, very nice!  The creme brulee was excellent by the way which was why i didn’t eat the other desserts except for a spoonful of the apple tart.  Yum!

    Complimentary Birthday Creme Brulee.. Happy Birthday mommy!
    Complimentary Birthday Creme Brulee.. Happy Birthday mommy!
    Nice desserts!
    Nice desserts!

    All in all it was a more than decent restaurant, stick to the traditional dishes and you wont be disappointed.  Great pricing, great service and some above average dishes!  We will be back!

    My lovely family!!!
    My lovely family!!! (Except me..) I took the picture!