Words: Aulia R. Sungkar (Ollie)
Originally published on JPlus by The Jakarta Post
Gold medal guest chef Bee showcases Thai delicacies in Jakarta
Keraton at The Plaza is presenting “Taste of Thai” at its Bengawan restaurant, which ends April 24. For this two-week special event, the hotel invited Supaporn Chanvijit, better known as Chef Bee, from the W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand.
At a recent lunch gathering, JPlus had the opportunity to taste the award-winning chef’s a la carte menu.
For starters, we sampled yam pla tuna (seared yellow fin tuna with wing bean salad and sweet spicy dressing), yam talay (char-grilled local seafood with bird eye chili and lime dressing) and por pia sod (spring roll with cucumber, carrot and sweet chili sauce).
One of the stars of the Thai food world is, of course, tom yam soup, which Bee blended with the tantalizing flavors of a tom ka kai.
The chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal oil and mushroom was quite appetizing before we continued to the main course of khao pad sopparot (fried rice with pineapple, cashew and raisins), kaeng mussamun neua (braised beef shank with crisp potatoes) and the chef’s signature dish, pad thai koong (stir-fried noodles with tiger prawn and tamarind sauce-all well suited to the Indonesian palate.
To conclude our lunch, the chef focused on three quintessential flavors in Thai cuisine: Stewed banana with coconut milk, a sweet sticky rice with mango jelly and a fruit platter with a tom ya sorbet. The sticky rice in particular was perfectly matched with the sweet taste of the mango jelly.
JPlus had a chat with Chef Bee on what fueled her climb up the culinary ladder and about Indonesian and Thai cuisine. Here are excerpts of the interview.
Why become a chef?
I grew up in the kitchen. My mother used to own a small restaurant and I was only six years old when I first helped her out with various kitchen tasks. Later, I did “mix and match” with all the ingredients, and this is what makes the world of cuisine fun.
What does a newbie need to know about Thai food?
They should know about the ingredients and spices used in the food. Thai food is one of the healthiest cuisines and has won the heart of foodies from across the world. If you’ve never tried Thai food before, start with pad Thai. It’s casual local food with genuine flavor.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
Pad Thai. [Laughs.]
How are Indonesian and Thai cooking the same (or different)?
To some extent, there are similarities between Indonesian food and Thai food. One good example is fried rice. Pineapple fried rice is more in the Thai style, but generally we use the same ingredients, except that Indonesian food is spicier. As for the soup, ours is somehow a bit more sour.
How do you want guests to feel when you serve them?
I want my guests to feel at home. I use recipes to make high-quality versions of homemade food.