Described by 18th century French gourmand Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin as “the diamond of the kitchen”, the not-so-humble truffle takes the culinary spotlight at Urbani at Sathorn Square. The gemstone analogy is apposite. The restaurant opened in June 2018 as a venture between seasoned local restaurateur Roberto Ugolini and the Urbani family, which established its truffle empire in northern Italy in 1852 and today controls approximately 70 per cent of the global market in the coveted fungus, effectively becoming to the truffle what De Beers is to diamonds.
In Bangkok the Perugian powerhouse has established an 80-seat restaurant with an adjacent 30-seat truffle bar, where there is also a neat display of truffle-related merchandise produced by Urbani, including oils and a selection of intriguing locally-made crisps flavoured with truffle, which are exported all over the world. The chic outlet certainly has a lavish feel that is every bit as rich as the cuisine promises to be. Here there are acres of marble countertop, plushly upholstered banquettes and chairs, polished dark wood tables and flooring and the warm glint of polished brass fittings and gold-trimmed Urbani motifs.
In the semi-open kitchen Italian chef Marco Prilol and executive chef Saharat Tangthai practise their culinary arts with aplomb and this New Year they will be serving a fantastic seven-course menu that features dishes taken from the regular a la carte menu and new offerings created just for the occasion. A great starter is abalone, crab and saffron gratin. Before cooking the abalone is brushed with lobster reduction for a concentrated taste of the sea and the dish is served with Urbani truffle pearls and osetra caviar. Also excellent is a creamy white truffle and mushroom soup served with a puff pastry truffle-crusted breadstick for a nutty, crunchy element.
The chefs really show their skills with a beautiful dish of thinly sliced Hokkaido scallop with yuzu, otoro tartar and truffle tuile. It arrives dressed with what looks like luscious black caviar but turns out to be gleaming spheres of balsamic. It is a zesty prelude to a wonderful homemade foie gras ravioli served with butter truffle sauce, slices of white truffle and parmesan cheese. Simple it may be but this is a standout dish and a popular choice on the menu.
The pasta parcels also contain a fine paste of chicken breast, which provides a firmer bite and a counter-balance to the rich and earthy flavours of foie gras and truffle. Those who enjoy seafood will doubtless be torn between steamed turbot with Jerusalem artichoke, micro greens and white truffle, and grilled Canadian lobster with brie and a micro greens side salad dressed with white truffle shavings. The lobster is superb—the flesh plump and firm but also moist and full of flavour, with an aftertaste enlivened by the cheese.
In terms of highlights from terra firma, try either braised bone marrow and tender grilled tajima wagyu with white truffle chermoula, or smoked Australian rack of lamb with truffle crusted sweet potato puree and pistachio. Both are slow-cooked and very tender—the bone marrow has a creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture while the lamb is cooked to a delicate pink blush. Finally, a decadent culinary journey is rounded off with a dessert enhanced with…you guessed it…the diamond of the kitchen. So you can, for example, delight in cold chocolate log larva with mint gel and truffle soil crumble. Whatever the occasion, do treat yourself to a digestivo of chilled truffle-flavoured vodka with your coffee. It is a fittingly complex end to a sophisticated meal.
Urbani Truffle Bar & Restaurant
39/F, Sathorn Square, 98 North Sathorn Road
Open Monday-Friday 11am-11pm; Satursday 6-11pm