The warmest time of the year returns again, and it’s good to know that besides air-conditioning and ice-cream, there is another rather ancient Thai way to cool down. Khao chae, translated as “rice soaked in cool water”, was introduced during the time of King Rama II (ruled 1809 to 1824) and is regarded as a royal dish. It is meant to be consumed during the months of March and April, the time when Thailand celebrates Songkran and is at its hottest, reaching temperatures that exceed 40 degrees Celcius. We rounded up seven highly recommended places that’s serving up classic khao chae.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
The Mandarin Oriental has a khao chae promotion at Sala Rim Naam Restaurant and The Mandarin Oriental Shop from April 1-30, 2018. The hotel welcomes the arrival of summer with its own rendition of the traditional Thai delicacy, which features the distinctive flavours of fried sweet pepper, deep-battered salted egg, stuffed shallot, fried shrimp paste, sweet fish, salty beef and pickled vegetables and fruits including cucumber and mango.
This delightful dish at Sala Rim Naam Restaurant and The Mandarin Oriental Shops is available daily and is priced at 455 Baht ++ for a small set for two and 695 Baht ++ for a large set for two, all throughout April.
For more information, please visit: www.mandarinoriental.com.
The Peninsula Bangkok
At The Peninsula, you can enjoy khao chae and a cool breeze from the Chao Phraya River at the same time. The hotel serves up the summer dish of steamed rice scented in jasmine water with sweet dried fish, shredded beef or pork, stuffed shallots with fish, sweet dried turnip, stuffed sweet chilli with shrimp and pork, green mango and galanga.
It is available daily between April 1-15 at The Lobby from noon to 10.30pm and Thiptara, the riverside Thai restaurant, from 6-10.30pm. The Peninsula’s khao chae is priced at 520 Baht ++ per person.
For reservations and more information: www.peninsula.com/bangkok
The Okura Prestige Bangkok
The Okura Prestige welcomes the Thai New Year with its version of khao chae, which it served at Up & Above Restaurant. The popular summer dish includes rice in iced jasmine-infused water and is served with shredded sweet pork, shredded sweet beef, fried fish with shrimp paste balls, and sweet bell peppers stuffed with pork and encased in an egg wrap. The dish is first steamed and then fried to a beautiful consistency before being allowed to cool. Other condiments include fried shallots, fish balls, and stir-fried sweet pickled Chinese turnips with egg.
It is available daily from noon-10.30pm from April 1-30 at Up & Above Restaurant. It is priced at 525 Baht ++.
For information and reservations, visit: www.okurabangkok.com
The Athenee Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok
Smooth Curry, the Thai restaurant at The Athenee Hotel offers lavish interpretations of the established favourite Thai dish of the hot season. It uses the freshest ingredients and generations-old recipes, enhanced with a refreshing spark of originality – the main being certified and organically-grown Thai rice sourced directly from farmers.
Smooth Curry’s Chef Montri Jiratitikankit orchestrates all the classic side dishes to accompany this famous dish. His khao chae set menu combines rice soaked in flower-scented cool water and serves it with shrimp paste balls, stuffed shallots, stuffed sweet peppers, shredded sweetened beef or pork, pickled turnips with egg, sweetened sun-dried fried fish, fried minced pork with salted fish and salted egg yolk with minced pork.
The khao chae set menu is available daily for lunch and dinner and is priced 850 Baht ++ per set. Reservations are recommended. Please visit www.theatheneehotel.com for more information.
Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson brings back the seasonal favourite with its “Jim Thompson Khao Chae Set”.
Take pleasure in the distinctive aromas and flavours of the “two-tone sao hai rice” soaked in chilled Jasmine-scented water. This unique delicacy is served alongside a varied selection of delicious side dishes according to royal court cuisine: fried shrimp paste created using only premium quality finely-grounded shrimp paste infused with rare finger root; stuffed sweet peppers filled with shrimp and ground chicken, delicately wrapped in duck egg; stuffed shallots containing smooth-tasting sun-dried snakehead murrel; salted fish fritters made from premium salted Indo-Pacific king mackerel, minced chicken and egg white; sweet radish sauté (which provides a smooth taste of pickled radish sautéed with coconut sugar); and sweet spotted eagle ray sauté made with fine ray meat, sautéed with fried onion.
A selection of fresh vegetables and fruits like green mango, finger root, cucumber and green onion are also served. To end the delightful culinary journey, diners are presented with Jim Thompson’s signature “Mango with Sticky Rice”.
Jim Thompson’s khao chae is served until May 31, 2018 at Jim Thompson Restaurant and Wine Bar in Jim Thompson House; Jim Thompson Restaurant and Lounge, Surawong Road and BOMBYX, M Floor (north wing), Siam Paragon Department Store, and is priced at 490 Baht ++ per set.
For more information, visit: www.jimthompson.com
The St. Regis Bangkok
The St. Regis Bangkok welcomes the Thai New Year in style at VIU Restaurant with stunning views over the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and city skyline. As Songkran is a time for making memories with loved ones, The St. Regis Bangkok celebrates the Thai New Year with the finest Thai cuisine. What awaits is an authentic and refined sharing menu, expertly crafted and befitting of the occasion.
Guests can savour the extravagant royal Thai khao chae, with chilled, jasmine-scented soaked rice, shrimp paste balls, sweet fried pork, crispy sesame fish, sweet turnip with egg, and green mango, cucumber, turmeric and chilli.
It is available only from April 13-15 (during the Songkran festivities), for lunch and dinner. The Thai Songkran Sharing Menu is priced at 650 Baht ++ per set.
On April 13 only, enjoy “Khim”, a Thai musical instrument performance and a complimentary garland-making class from noon-3:00pm.
For more information, visit: www.stregisbangkok.com
Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
Treat yourself to traditional Thai cuisine and feel refreshed from the inside out with Anantara’s version of khao chae, presented at Spice Market.
The khao chae set features the traditional steamed rice soaked in Jasmine-scented water alongside six tasty traditional Thai side dishes which are deep-fried shrimp paste balls (kapi song krueng), sweet dried turnips (hua pak kard warn), deep-fried shallots with shredded pork (hom sod sai), sweet shredded fish (pla yie soan), steamed green chilli stuffed with minced pork wrapped in egg net (prig yuak sod sai), and sweet shredded pork (moo foi warn) carefully prepared by Thai Chef Warinthorn Sumrithphon.
This summer speciality is available from April 2-30 every day except on Sundays, between 11.30am-2.30pm for 720 Baht ++ per set.
For more information, visit: siam-bangkok.anantara.com