The Oriental Thai Cooking School is a charming option for anyone looking for an introduction to cooking Thai cuisine, with the courteous service for which the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is renowned. Much of the pounding, dicing and grounding is prepared in advance by a team of chefs behind the scenes so don’t expect to get into the nitty-gritty, although there is plenty of explanation about ingredients and techniques, and a very easygoing atmosphere throughout the morning.
Situated in a period teak house, cooking classes at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok run from 08:00-12:00 daily. The classroom has several benches for partners to cook on and a central station for the teacher, the charismatic Chef Narain, and his diligent assistants who seem to be on hand for anything you may require – from a tissue to another cup of coffee. But, realistically, classes are very small and you will receive a lot of one-on-one instruction from the teacher, who keeps the class moving along gracefully.
During the class, four separate dishes are prepared, but always stick to classic Thai recipes. The menu changes daily according to a schedule so, if you like, you can take a course to learn all the dishes in the cookbook for that class cycle, and, occasionally, chefs even return when they know the entire menu has been changed year after year.
The day I visited we tried our hand at pork balls wrapped in pickled cabbage, pork red curry, fried egg Thai salad, with steamed coconut pudding for dessert. Dishes are never too difficult to prepare. It was nice that Chef Narain offered advice about alternative ingredients readily available back home, in place of the typical Thai ones. Each was delicious and I had the chance to eat it all afterwards in the comfortable surroundings of Sala Rim Naam Restaurant next door.
At the end of the class, everyone is given a goody bag with herbs and spices, an apron and a huge certificate for a touch of achievement to an otherwise easygoing day.
Weekend Class with Market Visit
To add some cultural relevance to your trip, arrange your Oriental Cooking School lesson for Saturday or Sunday, as the morning starts with a trip to the local market. Bang Rak Market is a very small wet market with just a few stalls, but it nevertheless gives you an accurate snapshot of local Thai life in the capital, and all the buildings leading from the pier to the market are old Chinese shophouses with life mainly unchanged for the last 50 years.
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Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
The legendary service of The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok dates back 125 years when it was first opened as a seamans lodge along the Chao Phraya River.It typifies a golden age of travel and attends the needs of guests at the highest levels.The recently retired legendary General Manager of the hotel, Kurt Wachtveitl, has spent 41 years ensuring that the Oriental has no rival for excellence of comfort, dignity and style. Read More...
The Oriental Thai Cooking School