British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver brings his popular Jamie
By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Sunday Nation
Celebrity UK chef’s restaurant offers Italian classics with a twist
AFTER A LONG WAIT, the eagerly anticipated Jamie’s Italian restaurant finally opened in Bangkok last week.
A partnership between UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and his Italian mentor, Gennaro Contaldo, the launch at Siam Discovery in downtown Bangkok is the latest of more than 50 outlets across the world, including Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The 200-seat, glass-wrapped restaurant on the ground floor of the mall allows diners to overlook the bustling Pathumwan intersection while indulging in Italian classics with a twist, at a price that won’t break the bank.
The first Bangkok outlet is a joint venture between Singapore-based Hotel Properties Ltd and Siam Piwat – the operator of Siam Paragon, Siam Center, and Siam Discovery.
Oliver, who didn’t show up at the opening of his latest branch, said in a statement: “Taking Jamie’s Italian to Thailand is incredibly exciting for me. Bangkok is such a vibrant, buzzing city with a great food scene and we can’t wait to be a part of it. We’ll be sourcing lots of beautiful, top quality local produce from fantastic local suppliers and making food that we just know you’re going to love.”
Designed in loft style, the restaurant boasts a mix of rustic, reclaimed timber refectory tables and industrial zinc tables with hand-painted floral tile flooring – all made by local artisans. The decor adds up to industrial chic with exposed metal ducts, vintage enamel shades and retro glass pendant lights, though there’s plenty of glass to let natural light stream in. Oliver’s cookbooks are also strewn on the shelves.
The open concept allows diners to look into the kitchen and watch their antipasti planks being made at the antipasti counter or they can just hang out for a pre and post meal tipple at the bar.
To follow the essence of Jamie’s Italian – tradition combined with innovative ideas and a twist – the Bangkok branch is committed to sourcing only the free-range, sustainable and ethically produced ingredients. The restaurant will work closely with Thai farmers to showcase local, sustainable produce.
Head chef Alex Barman, who has been with the Jamie’s Italian family since 2010, said: “Jamie’s Italian food is simple, rustic and inspired by dishes eaten all over Italy, delivered to the local market at affordable prices.
“One of the most exciting parts of the job so far has been sourcing ingredients that fit in with Jamie’s food ethos. It’s not always easy, but it is always enjoyable. I’m really looking forward to using some of the interesting products that are available here to create some brilliant dishes, with a new brigade of talented local chefs.”
Perfect for sharing and starting the meal are its famous antipasti planks available in meat and vegetarian versions. Placed on a large wooden board supported by tins of tomatoes, the meat version (Bt590 for two and Bt1,180 for four) lets you savour cured meats from light to intense flavours starting with nutty prosciutto, smoked mortadella, wagyu bresaola and fennel salami topped with pickled large green olives and chillis. There are also creamy fresh buffalo mozzarella, crisp breads topped with slices of aged pecorino and chilli jam, and rainbow slaw with crunchy shredded beetroot and carrot drizzled with lime juice and olive oil.
The Vegetarian Plank (Bt490/Bt980) offers a platter of char-grilled vegetables marinated in garlic and herb oil, with mini mozzarella, tomato and ricotta crostini, smashed pumpkin, crispy breads with aged pecorino and chilli jam, pickles olives and rainbow slaw.
Nine varieties of pasta are also made fresh daily. The pastas are value for money thanks to the generous portions and perfect al dente cooking. Most pasta dishes are available in two sizes – solo and sharing. The Prawn Linguine (Bt300/Bt390) is a popular order in many of Jamie’s branches thanks to its juicy, garlicky prawns in a tasty fish broth with fennel, tomato, saffron and chilli, topped with lemony rocket.
Crab Spaghetti (Bt290/Bt370) is cooked with crabmeats, chilli, fennel, capers, white wine and garlic and topped with lemon zest and extra virgin olive oil. However, I personally found the dish too salty.
Pizza dough is made by hand and proved for hours before being hand-stretched to create a crisp base. The simple, classic Margherita (Bt310) is dressed with a rich San Marzano tomato sauce, creamy bocconcini, shavings of British cheddar and whole basil leaves, while the Funghi (Bt340) is an earthy delight topped with porcini mushroom sauce, roasted herby mushrooms, mozzarella, cracked black pepper, chervil and tarragon.
For a meaty main course, the 12oz Rib-eye Steak (Bt1,450) is char-grilled and served with grilled wild mushrooms, chopped herb condiment of gremolata, balsamic onions, watercress and chips.
Chicken Al Mattone
Another option is Chicken Al Mattone (Bt520) offering half a free-range marinated chicken with a creamy wild mushroom sauce topped with lemony rocket and parmesan. This is a traditional Tuscan dish made by grilling a marinated chicken under a brick. The weight of the brick ensures that the chicken is pushed further against the grates of the grill, producing a smoky, juicy and intensely flavoured grilled chicken with a crisp skin.
Epic Chocolate Brownie
Whatever your choice, leave room for tempting desserts like Epic Chocolate Brownie (Bt230) with chocolate sauce, amaretto ice cream topped with caramelised popcorn, and Tiramisu (Bt220), the classic Italian dessert with chocolate shavings and orange zest.
Jamie’s Italian Bangkok is on the ground floor of Siam Discovery.
It’s open daily from 11am to 10pm. Call (02) 255 5222 or visit www.JamiesItalian.co.th