After a major renovation, the North Wing of Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok, one of Bangkok’s iconic hotels, has finally opened its door. Evidently, the concept of ‘Revival of the Original’ has enticed an eclectic mix of customers, from the hotel’s loyal fans to urbanites who came to visit the famous Ruenton restaurant with a fresh new vibe. Soon enough, the new European cafe and wine bar Phar-Ram IV Bistro, located next to the restaurant, was launched to welcome customers who seek a nice, cosy place to chill.
The comeback of Classic French cuisine
The French master chef Herve Frerard, the Director of Culinary of Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok is the chef behind Phar-Ram IV Bistro. He said that he would like this place to make simple meals special. “In French, the word ‘bistro’ means a casual restaurant with affordable prices. It is the place where people can enjoy the classic French cuisine and European dishes that we are familiar with. Take pastas, for example.” He proposed the concept of a ‘French cafe’ where people can come and have a great time from day to night. For breakfast, Phar-Ram IV Bistro offers some freshly-baked croissants and bakeries, while offering healthy and hearty dishes like pastas, salads and sandwiches for lunch. For dinner, it is time for classic French dishes paired with fine wines, the perfect combination for loosening up a little bit after work.
Growing up in southern France, Chef Herve said that his family’s recipes are heavily based on a Mediterranean diet which focuses on using fresh produce. “When I was a child, I remember that our dishes at home were based on vegetables that we grew by ourselves. We had a kitchen garden. It was very European and very local.” As a result, he became a chef who enjoys having lots of vegetables in his dishes. He actually is famous for his style of mixing classic French cuisine with a Mediterranean touch. “You will find it here at Phar-Ram IV Bistro,” said Chef Herve.
The seasoned French chef also said that his journey with Montien Hotel Surawong is some kind of a destiny. “I never thought of working in a hotel. It is not my style. However, when I learned about the history of the hotel which is linked to the beginning of the French food culture in Thailand, I could not resist. You might have heard about the hotel’s Le Gourmet Grill restaurant that used to be famous in the 60s and the 70s. The restaurant used to welcome the royal members, ambassadors and global VIPS. As a French chef who is good at classic French cuisine, I see this as a golden opportunity to revive Le Gourmet Grill and rewrite its history.”
Chef Herve Frerard was born and raised in his family’s farm in Burgundy, south of France. He moved to Paris when he was 14 years old to learn cooking. After spending years in a cooking school, he became a professional chef. Frerard used to be the private chef of the late French President Francois Mitterand and has cooked for nobles, including Queen Elizabeth of England. Decades of experiences have brought him to every corner of the world, as he worked with many Michelin-starred restaurants in Switzerland, the United States, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore and many more. Apart from cooking, he currently focuses on sustainable production and consumption cycles and has devoted himself to work with Thai farmers as much as possible.
Unrivalled Street Food
At the helm of making Montien Hotel Surawong’s famous Thai-Chinese food is Chef Amnuay Aneksuwan, the hotel’s Executive Chef who has worked here for more than 20 years. Chef Amnuay was the one behind the success of the hotel’s ‘Hainanese Chicken Rice’ for decades said that the Thai-Chinese Ruenton restaurant was a go-to place for many Thais and foreigners for more than 40 years, long before the restaurant received Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand awards in 2019 and 2020. Many dishes are everyone’s favorites, including Khao Mun Gai or the Hainanese Chicken Rice, Kanom Pakkad or fried turnip cakes and Rad Na Jakkapad or rice noodles and seafood in thick gravy sauce that are very unique in terms of tastes and premium ingredients.
After 18 months of renovation, the comeback of Ruenton restaurant was expected to be as grand as possible. To make that happen, Chef Amnuay assembled a team of more than 40 staff members, both old and new, to deliver a fresh new gourmet experience under the concept of ‘Thai-Chinese Street Food’ featuring carefully-chosen dishes that would not disappoint. “They are delicious a-la-carte dishes that are so good that you cannot keep them to yourself,” said Chef Amnuay.
He continued that since the concept after the renovation is quite different, many details, food included, are reinvented to match the taste of the new generation. “Of course, we would like the dining experience to be more modern, but we could not overlook our original spirit, which is Thainess. Today, I interpret Thainess as street food, the kind of food that every generation is familiar with, like fried noodles, rice with curries or chicken rice. But how to make these simple dishes special, that was my biggest challenge.”
To resolve the challenge, he chooses to pay utmost attention to seasonal material selection and high-quality suppliers. The production costs might be higher, but he believes that these elements are at the heart of leveraging the whole experience. He wants the restaurant to deliver well-being and lasting impressions, just like Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok always did in the past.
Apart from the authentic Thai-Chinese tastes and superior quality, he realized that the presentation of the food has to be special as well. The experienced Thai chef said that he has spent a tremendous time visitings the restaurants favored by young foodies to get a sense of a ‘delicious experience’ according to the new generation. “First impressions always matter for our customers. The appearance of the food, the presentation, the scales of the dishes and the proportions… all of these are what make the food more delicious and enjoyable. We want this place to share happiness with our customers,” concluded the Thai chef.
Happiness is the Goal
Chef Amnuay’s principle corresponds with the philosophy of Chef Pornchai Daomasratsamee, the hotel’s Executive Sous Chef who oversees the kitchen and design menus for functions, events and receptions at the hotel. Specialising in both Asian and Western cuisines, Chef Pornchai said that his ultimate passion is to deliver ‘happiness’ to every customer. “The best moment is when we see that our customers are happy with the food. In the kitchen, I focus on 3 things, which are the ingredients that we use, the safe cooking methods and the happiness we get from work, which is from compliments of our customers.”
To create innovative menus, Chef Pornchai said that he likes to play with what he has in different ways. “For example, we need to find out how we can present authentic Thai-Chinese food in a modern way. Nowadays, events and receptions have become more challenging, with steeper competition as well. We need to always come up with new ideas to excite our guests and keep the original taste, which is our forte, at the same time. ”
“At the end of the day, no matter what you do or where you serve, the food needs to taste good. Many times, too many sophisticated techniques are just for show. It is not what we do here,” concluded the young chef of the Montien spirit.
Despite different backgrounds, experiences and styles, the three chefs agreed that the happiness of working at Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok comes from the culture of caring that everyone can feel. It is the culture that has been passed on from the management team to the staff and customers. “A good mix of young and senior staff in our team is something that is very rare in typical lifestyle hotels at present. And we believe that we can transfer these shared values through our food design and services.”
See more detail of Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok at montienbangkok.com or facebook.com/montiensurawongbkk or contact tel. +662 233 7060