More than two years ago, we heard whisperings about Aaharn –award-winning chef David Thompson’s ode to the best of Thai cuisine in Hong Kong – and the fine-dining restaurant finally opened in October of last year at heritage complex Tai Kwun, a fitting location considering the chef’s dedication to the gastronomic culture and history of Thailand. But, since then, Aaharn has gone a bit quiet, with seemingly none of the opening buzz surrounding a restaurant launched by such a high-profile chef. We’ve always wondered why…
Aaharn’s elegant interior showcases modern artwork by Asian artists
So it was with great anticipation that we headed to Aaharn this past week for a taste of some of the new seasonal dishes on the menu, cooked and served by Chef Thompson himself, whom many consider the world’s leading authority on Thai cuisine – winner of the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award by The World’s 50 Best in 2016. Although Chef Thompson has called Bangkok home for more than 30 years now, he travels to Hong Kong every few months to check in at Aaharn, changing up the menu according to the seasons and his never-ending exploration of the cuisine of Thailand.
Aaharn’s new Thai head chef, Boonyapat Pariyasakul, has worked for over a decade at fine-dining restaurants and consulates around the world, including alongside Chef Thompson at Michelin-starred Nahm in Bangkok.
This month, Chef Thompson has also introduced lunch service, with a a well-priced set lunch menu available on Tuesday–Saturday ($198 for courses; $228 for 3 courses). Current items on the set lunch menu include a punchy banana blossom and river prawn salad to start and a comforting main of aromatic chicken curry with ratte potatoes and shallots – both of which we sampled, and they were sensational. It’s worth noting that steamed jasmine rice, which serves as a canvas for Thai cuisine, is unlimited and makes for a soothing partner to the flavour-packed dishes at Aaharn.
Banana blossom salad with river prawns
For dinner, there’s both an à-la-carte menu and a tasting menu ($748/person or $698/person for the vegetarian menu; wine pairings available). We’d recommend sticking with the tasting menu (in particular, the vegetarian version, where veggies are taken to new heights) – for example, while delicious, we find the aromatic chicken curry ($328) and relish of smoked kingfish ($218) on the current tasting menu to be overpriced when ordering à la carte.
Aromatic chicken curry with ratte potatoes and shallots
With Chef Thompson on deck on the evening of our visit to Aaharn, the flavours were bound to be on point, and we weren’t disappointed. Although it’s hard to pick favourites, we’ll do our best – we couldn’t get enough of the canapé of crabmeat with pickled garlic, crunchy rice and peanuts to start. The acidity of the pickled garlic was the perfect foil to the sweetness of the Dungeness crab atop the deep-fried rice cracker, enlivened by a green-chilli dressing. For us, this dish symbolises all that we love about the sweet-spicy-sour components of Thai cuisine.
At the opposite end of the spectrum was a dessert: glacé kaffir lime with pineapple. We crave something sweet and refreshing to end a highly spiced Thai meal, and this dessert may overtake even our beloved mango sticky rice for the Thai dessert crown. A cross between a cold soup and a granita, this delicate but intense liquid pudding achieved a pleasing balance of sweetness from the sugar syrup and heady sourness from the poached kaffir lime.
1/F, Armoury, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2703 9111, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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