The newly refurbished Erawan looks terrific. Two shiny thai guardian angels painted in gold and framed in red, greet patrons who visit this cosy Thai restaurant. With the renovations, Erawan now lets in a lot more natural light, looks spacious and expansive. I really love the latest chi-chi additions to the restaurant – a rust gold leaf chandelier, a couple of elegant looking cupboards and other artefacts that the owner/chef Korn and his partner Anan had just brought in from Bangkok.
the newly refurbished Erawan – two thai angels painted in gold and framed in red
loads of natural light that makes this cozy restaurant looks spacious and bright
The highlight of the lunch this time for me, was the Khao Chae. The whiter than snow, fragrant rice, chilled in jasmine-scented water, served with at least seven condiments, was a delicious treat to the senses. We learnt that this was actually a summer dish – one of King Rama V’s favourites, who loved cooling off with a meal like this in the hot summer months, in Thailand.
an incense candle is used to smoke the rice for this special thai summer dish known as the Khao Chae
The rice has to be cooked 70 to 80 per cent, then cold water is poured in, and the rice washed with both hands till the water runs clear, sometimes up to 20 washes! The rice is put in a muslin cloth and steamed 20 per cent. The rice is cooled, then an incense candle is used to smoke it for half an hour. For the jasmine water, the organic flowers are soaked in water, covered, for one night. The flowers are taken out, then smoked for half an hour. It’s kept in the fridge till needed. The rice is served in the jasmine water. Wow.. what a lot of patience, and dedication – talk about love’s labour! Only Chef Korn will toil like that, for his art!
the beautifully presented Khao Chae
jasmine water, where organic flowers are soaked in water, covered, for one night. The rice is served in the jasmine water
The seven condiments are pretty exotic- stuffed shallots with grilled catfish, herbs and spices, and sweet chilli stuffed with shrimp paste, salted fish, garlic, coriander root and pepper, then steamed and wrapped in a thin omelette. Another tasty favourite was the fried shrimp paste with grilled mackerel combined with herbs and spices, and ikan kurau saltfish soaked in water then grilled, pounded, then deepfried and later stirfried with sugar and crispy shallots. The beef jerky was actually tenderloin marinated in soy sauce, fish sauce, pepper and dried in the sun for a day, then grilled, and pounded, shredded by hand, deep fried, then fried again with crispy shallots. There was also a sweet preserved radish fried with palm sugar and garlic and finally, the last condiment was the beautifully carved wild ginger and cucumber – the ginger to tone down the taste of shrimp paste, and the cucumber to cool the tastebuds.
The seven condiments
Apart for the impressive Khao Chae, there was also a Rama V soup ( Tom Jeu ) , eaten by the king when he was feeling under the weather. It had beef, sweet potato, sweet basil and Thai basil and shallots, vegetables and chilli in a soup with tamarind and lime juice. It had a hearty flavour to it – no wonder the King liked it when he was feeling fluish!
Khao Yam – Blue Rice Salad
The fabulous Khao Yam or Blue Rice Salad which had a layer of blue rice – coloring from the blue pea flower, topped with shredded mango, beansprouts, long beans, shrimps, roasted coconut and wild ginger flower brought together with a sauce of budu water boiled with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, salted fish and palm sugar. Even I ate all my blue rice!!
One of my all time favourites of Chef Korn’s creations is a simple noodle dish, the Beef Noodles – delicious beefy stock, with loads of crunchy veggies and aromatic basil to bring out the gorgeous flavours of the meaty stock. Lovely!
Another all time favourite – the Mieng Kam which has a thick, sticky shrimp paste that is bursting with flavour
Thai beef Satay
Finally, dessert a nice, rich, and sticky yet smooth tapioca in a syrup streaked with santan. I really loved this – carbo quota out the door!
All in all a terrific lunch at Erawan. Chef Korn is one helluva Chef, and worthy of many accolades.
Add: Erawan, No. 22-1, Jln PJU 5/16, Dataran Sunway Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-6141 2393 Pork Free Erawan is ranked third in the prestigious Miele Guide FY2011. Their website: http://www.erawan-classicthai.com/ (you must make reservations before hand)