Whale's Belly Bangkok
Winner of Iron Chef Thailand
Whale’s Belly - whose head chef recently won the title of Iron Chef Thailand on television - is a restaurant that exceeds expectations. The playful name comes from a fairytale but the comfortable surroundings, friendly service and astonishing creative cuisine are a real winning combination. Located on Sukhumvit Soi 39, the restaurant is open every day from 17:30 until 23:00. Taxi or car is the best way to get here.
The kitchen is under the supervision of a young, visionary chef who trained in the seafood section of Le Normandie at Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental. With an interest in molecular gastronomy, some of the techniques used are inspired by those used at the famed Spanish culinary school elBulli. Ingredients are imported to ensure that Whale’s Belly serves the finest quality produce available.
Iron Chef Champion Winning Menu
In honour of his recent victory on the acclaimed television show Iron Chef, Chef Mai has recreated his winning dishes with a special a la carte menu at Whale's Belly, all based around tuna. The first dish, bluefin tuna tartare, is a favourite from the regular menu with jellied apple, caviar, croutons and horseradish offering a new sensation with every bite.
The second dish of Yuzu Cold Capellini delivers a real kick of spice, yet the cold pasta with truffle oil and caviar is rich and soothing, with sliced tuna fillet, caviar and chunks of blue crab underneath.
The third dish, Verde, is artistically plated with thickly sliced fillets of seared tuna, 10 mix spice, dehydrated kalamata olives, deep-fried cauliflower balls and crispy chicken paper. It’s filling, fragrant and beautifully presented. The final dish is an innovative take on a classic dish: tuna Rossini. A premium akami loin is cooked sous-vide and served with two generous slices of truffle, foie gras and a mango-lemon emulsion to cut through the rich flavours and bring some light fruity tastes to the dish.
It’s a quirky themed restaurant. The whale’s belly is central to the theme, with white slats on the roof making up the bones of the large mammal and the walls decorated in a deep sea blue. Although the tables are laid with crisp white cloths and a selection of wine glasses, there is a childlike playfulness in the dining space as well. Pinocchio was the inspiration, and you will find a framed puppet in the private room to honour him. Other quirky decorations include the Rose’s necklace from Titanic and the Captain’s Hook. The food may be fine dining but the atmosphere is designed to be welcoming and comfortable, with golden lights twinkling in the window. The staff are efficient and quickly serve warm bread buns with butter and terrine, a little extra treat.
Welcome mocktails are served to every guest, with a new blend mixed every day. The refreshing juice was an aquamarine colour on our visit, fluke rather than a nod to the restaurant’s ocean theme. It’s nice to have something to sip on whilst you relax in the comfy bucket chairs with their jolly navy and gold nautical cushions. There are eight wines by the glass, which makes it easy to mix a match with the fish and meat courses. Served first is the amuse bouche, a piece of thinly sliced duck fillet surrounding a pinch of aubergine. The smoky flavour of the meat and vegetable make an excellent combination.
We start with the Atlantic Bluefin tuna tartare. This dish is a medley of textures and tastes, the fish served with delicate cubs of soya jelly, granny smith apple, buttered croutons and a sweet and sour reduction. The lime gives it an extra zing and the micro greens offered a hint of warming pepper with every mouthful. It takes someone who really knows their ingredients to create a balance in the different flavours so well, and this dish really showed that keeping it simple is not always best.
Although this restaurant comes under the banner of European cuisine, there are some Asian influences on the menu. The cold capellini pasta with crab and mentaiko is another dish that delivers, especially due to the fact that cold pasta reminds me of dull buffets rather than gourmet treats. Here, the chilled pasta is refreshing, and the slightly spicy blend is infused with yuzu (a Japanese orange style fruit), truffle and served with crab and black cod roe in a hand carved bowl created from mango tree.
Another unusual dish on the menu is the Mc'n Cheese Duo of Ravioli: double stuffed ravioli served with two different sauces. In one half of the pasta parcel was chicken and shitake mushroom, and the other, four different kinds of cheeses. Although the concept was interesting, and each parcel was lovingly created, the taste was much more subtle than the other dishes we tried, and is comforting rather than surprising. Designed for those who enjoy the simpler things, it’s a favourite with younger guests as well.
The chef may be a fish connoisseur but he’s pretty good with all things meaty as well. We try the slow braised wagyu beef cheek, cooked over 36 hours and served with a peppercorn sauce. This tender meat has an intense flavour, but the accompanying honey pickled radish has a clean, fresh taste that prevents it from becoming too rich.
Dessert is the chef’s take on tiramisu, a tower of lady fingers, cashews and cream with a gooseberry garnish. The crunchiness added an extra depth to the creamy coffee notes and it wasn’t overly sweet.
The passion at Whale’s Belly is evident and brings a certain charm to the place. Here, the cooking is from the heart with plenty of style and skill. This isn’t a cheap night out, but we think such interesting cooking is worth it. Five courses with two glasses of wine costs 1,700 baht.
- Opening Hours: Every day from 17.30-23.00
- Address: 39 Boulevard tower, 2nd floor, Sukhumvit Soi 39, Sukhumvit Road.
- Tel: +66 (0)2 1600 333