By Kupluthai Pungkanon
The Nation Weekend
PERCHED ON the 26th and 27th floors of the Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel, Seen Restaurant and Bar offers a magnificent view of both the city’s skyline and the Chao Phraya River below.
The brainchild of Olivier da Costa, one of Portugal’s most successful chefpreneurs and social scene doyen, Seen Bangkok joins its siblings in Sao Paulo and Lisbon as the place to see, be seen, sin and escape from it all. Adding to the ambience are the bold cocktails dreamt up by award-winning mixologist Mochammad Fadli.
The rooftop restaurant and lounge framed by floor-to-ceiling windows and designed by M&J London boast a 1980’s-meets-Art Deco hideaway of indoor and outdoor spaces with seating for up to 185 guests. The rooftop sky bar, meanwhile, has bold graphics, a flowing form, and a starry surface underfoot that creates a surreal and intimate setting for up to 64 guests. Daybeds face out over what must be one of the best views of the Chao Phraya with beats in the background spun by a roster of jet-setting DJs.
Executive chef Alexandre Castaldi, 26, showcases his talents with an extensive menu of artisanal tapas, cold cuts and cheeses, seafood and sushi. Signature dishes include the truffled lobster salad and beef tenderloin with da Costa’s original sauce. High quality ingredients from around the world add a foreign flair to the wealth of locally sourced and organic produce.
Every dish is well balanced with hints of acidity and sweetness, and impressive textures and crunchiness. And the a la carte menu is definitely made for sharing.
Organic Beetroot Carpaccio
Highlights include the interesting Organic Beetroot Carpaccio (Bt490) featuring Feta cheese, orange and caper vinaigrette, dill, and sweet macadamia. Equally tasty is the Seen Taco (Bt620) filled with Alaskan king crab, mango, guacamole, red cabbage, tobiko roe, pomegranate, and spicy mayo.
“Our concept is about sharing and that’s especially appropriate for Thailand, where diners want to sample every dish. Chef Olivier designed the menu and each dish is light with a balanced taste,” says Castaldi, who hails from France.
“I like the idea of carpaccio. Our salad menu is light with different textures, crunchiness and a slightly sour kick from the mayonnaise, the squeeze of lime and pomegranate. The taco has many textures too. The concept is kind of European, with recipes that originated in Lisbon. But we also have Brazilian dishes and sushi, which is very important to our concept as we get the best parts of really fresh salmon, Chu Taro, Blufin Tuna and Hamachi yellow tail, and scallops from Japan.”
The recommendations on the sushi menu include Chu Toro Nigiri with Caviar (Bt790), which features Bluefin Tuna belly, caviar, and golden flakes and Truffed Gunkan (Bt560), another interesting plate of salmon, soft shell crab, quail egg confit, black truffle and sesame seeds for added crunch.
Among the main courses, Sea Food Rice (Bt790) has biodynamic rice sauteed Western style with lobster, shrimp, fish, tiger prawn, seabass, crunchy calamari and bisque.
For the meat eaters, there’s wagyu (Bt1,390). “We use rump steak grilled on the outside to make it crispy while the inside is medium rare and juicy.We serve it with truffle spaghetti, and parmesan cheese on top. Our Iberico Pork Steak Secreto (Bt1,120) is from Spain. It’s the part behind the neck and is very tender, even when cooked medium well. We serve with it pineapple for a sweet and sour taste,” Castaldi adds.
Hokkaido Scallop Gratin
Hokkaido Scallop Gratin (Bt990), meanwhile, boasts a delicious leek, mushroom and truffle bechamel.
For dessert, Seen proudly presents “White Bomb”, a milk ice cream with marinated berries, and Banana and Peanuts, a creamy banana cake with peanut toffee. Both are Bt290.
At the bar, Fadli – he prefers to be called a bartender than a mixologist – puts his 20 years of experience to good use. A regular on the awards circuit and recognised for his weird and wonderful concoctions, the Indonesia-born Fadli has graced the counters of award-winning bars from Palmer & Co in Sydney to 1515 West in Shanghai.
For Seen, he offers concoctions from the Old and New World, adding contemporary Thai twists. The cocktails include the Sin to be Seen – Thailand (Bt400), a blend of jackfruit sous-vide plantation rum, citrus, sweet basil, peach bitter, and vegetal cucumber tonic water.
Award-winning mixologist Mochammad Fadli
Black Diamond – Portugal (Bt495) features cheddar cheese, Fermand cognac, Tio Pepe fino, and Madeira chocolate and can be enjoyed both before and after the meal. It has a dry taste with a hint of cheese.
“The cocktail concept is about the Seen bar, which appears on three continents – Asia, Europe, and South America. We have nine signature cocktails, all unique to our brand. Sin to be Seen uses local jackfruit rum, adding basil for a Mediterranean flavour and gets it bitter taste from the cucumber tonic. It’s refreshing and suitable for any occasion. The cocktail really has unique flavours particularly the jackfruit fragrance. It is very rare for a bartender to use this fruit. We have also created a Durian cocktail. Black Diamond is very strong and the cheese is European style. It’s dry and bitter, slightly chocolatey in the palette,” he adds.
“At Seen we are able to create any kind of drink that guests are looking for.”
EYES WIDE OPEN
>> Seen is open daily from 6 to 10pm. Spaces are also available for private events from product launches to weddings.
>> Make a reservation at (02) 431 9120 or visit www.SeenRooftopBangkok.com.