After years spent learning her craft in the kitchens of multiple Michelin-star establishments across Europe, including Frederikshoj in Denmark and the three-star La Belle Epoque in Germany, chef de cuisine Fae Rungthiwa Chummongkhon has come home to helm Front Room, the signature restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria on Ratchadamri Road.
Born and raised in Chiang Saen in northern Thailand, Fae recalls that as a girl she was always thinking about food. “Not because I was constantly hungry,” she laughs, “it was because I was fascinated by flavours and how they worked in combination. I still am.”
At Front Room chef Fae deftly blends a mix of fine French cuisine with New Nordic and Thai influences. “I compose my recipes so that main ingredients are accentuated and then add notes from other cultures and culinary traditions to surprise and titillate. I use Thai techniques in the preparation of traditional French and Scandinavian cuisine to create original visual and contextual flavours and impressions that are at once innovative and yet familiar to the audience. In this way I combine the new with the traditional and the West with the Far East.”
These sensibilities show in her imaginative tasting menu, from which guests can choose a seven or 10-dish meal. Some of the dishes also appear on her considered a la carte menu, which offers the choice of four appetisers, four main course dishes and four desserts, all of which change according to the season.
The tasting menu begins with Velkomen, an amuse bouche of five beautifully presented bite-sized morsels that include croustades with pomelo and shrimp, fish cracker with sweet-sour gel and sweet potato with peanut and green apple. The vibrant, tangy flavour combinations do a great job of warming up the palate for what is to come.
The Nordic influence in chef Fae’s cooking is apparent in an offering called Asia Pacific, a dish of thinly sliced smoked sea bass with coconut and broccoli. The flavours are delicate but punch is added through the smokiness of the fish and a zesty vinaigrette dressing. Next is Baking Beetroot, a visually striking dish of gelled and pickled beetroot, pickled papaya and caviar served with a beetroot sauce made with rich chicken stock. The natural sweetness of the beetroot combines with the saltiness of the caviar to give a subtle taste of the briny Nordic sea. This is followed by Mom’s Soup Memories, a homely serving of squid noodles in a thin but flavour-packed chicken broth. An extra dimension is added with a drizzle of garlic oil.
One of the standout dishes arrives next, Blue of the Sea, which comprises crab, celery crudité and a hollandaise-style yellow curry sauce that has a flavour and consistency not unlike the creamy mayonnaise-based sauce of coronation chicken. When the viands move to land we are served Raised in Chiang Rai, Cooked in Bangkok, a dish of deboned and re-stuffed chicken with black rice puree theatrically presented in a dome of smoke. Its tender delights are followed by an equally fine dish called The King of Beef, a seared piece of succulent wagyu striploin served with an oxtail and morel-enriched fumet stock.
To finish we enjoy the palate-cleansing dessert of Green on Ice—a refreshing basil and white chocolate mousse with mango and sesame—and a selection of chef Fae’s uniquely flavoured and beautifully presented hand-made petit fours.
Front Room, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
151 Ratchadamri Road, open daily 5:30-10:30pm