The recently-opened boutique Villa Deva Resort and Hotel Bangkok on Sathon 1 is like a breath of fresh air in the concrete jungle that we call home.
From the minute you enter, view lush gardens, surrounded by a lagoon-style swimming pool and low-rise, resort-style suites. Villa Deva is the place where the hustle and bustle of the busy street outside is left just there, outside. The resort’s only dining venue, aptly named VelaBhirom, meaning “moments of pleasure”, has an al fresco dining area for those breezy afternoons or sundowners, but on hot days it’s the warm but air-conditioned interiors that are most welcoming.
Keeping in tone with the heritage design, VelaBhirom has textured teak wood panels, patterned stonework and warm brown tones. The indoor dining space seats 44, while the outdoor bar space can accommodate unto 40 persons.
The kitchen is under the helm of Chapornpat “Jib” Dapachutisan and every dish is chosen for a particular reason. “The dishes have been chosen from all over the country. Most of the dishes are famous in their regions and though they all have more than one way of cooking, this style of cooking is VelaBhirom’s. I grew up in the South and want to show the characters of the taste, so most of my dishes are spicy,” she says.
The ingredients are carefully selected and responsibly-sourced, while the recipes are still traditional, they are presented with a modern touch. The eight-course tasting menu is priced at B2,200++ and changes every six months.
“The irresistible nature of Thai cuisine lies in the wealth of high quality and unique ingredients in each region. We want to bring out the best flavours in every dish and create a memorable dining experience,” adds chef Jib. Having honed her craft in various five-star hotels and resorts, as well as embassy postings in Australia and England, chef Jib brings years of experience to the table.
The amuse bouche of Grilled aubergine with marinated shrimp and spicy local vegetables is a “mouth opener”, literally. It is spicy but I welcome heat in the first bite, though it is more than one bite. The housemade sauce in the Soft shell crab miang kham is thicker that normal and has a punch of shrimp paste that is balanced out with Thai herbs. Though, it would be best to remove the generous helping of fresh chillies as one can never judge the heat from looks alone. The soft-shell crab is sourced from local fishermen in Ranong.
It is getting harder to find a good Yum som-o or pomelo salad these days. Here the pomelo salad with shrimp and shrimp paste and tamarind sauce is yummy. Pun intended. Though once again on the spicy side. If you can’t take the heat, you can always ask them to tone it down, because as the meal progressed I did wonder if each dish really warranted the uber spiciness. Grilled beef with spicy shrimp paste and Thai herbs is a herbal soup that comes in a bottle gourd. Warming in the throat and absolutely delicious, this is the soup needed on a rainy evening.
The next course may seem odd in its placement in the tasting menu but as chef Jib explains, “This meat is quite heavy so I chose the first main to be. The dish comes from the North and is Beef shank with galangal dipping.” A welcome relief from all the heat, comes in the form of a palate cleanser of Pineapple with chilli and salt sorbet. Refreshing, tangy, tasty and most of all cooling.
The main course, or second in this case, is called the VelaBhirom Signature and is a serving platter of a few dishes. The classic Crab curry from the South, Sea bass wrapped in banana leaf served with a spicy chilli dipping, Deep fried shrimp with herbs and three different kinds of organic rice. “We use jasmine, rice berry and brown rice and they are cooked and then lightly stir-fried in rock salt before being served. “The shrimp fritter uses a herb called lep krood, which is similar to bai chakram and we grow in the garden at Villa Deva,” says chef Jib.
The dessert is a classic, inspired by bua loy, served in a Japanese pumpkin that is completely edible, including the skin. Pumpkin with coconut milk served with young coconut meat, roselle jam and roselle sorbet. The sorbet was so good and helping in cutting the richness of the coconut milk. Delicious!
Call 02-821-3888, Line: @villadeva or visit villadeva.com.