Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin in Bangkok gives Thai food a French twist

Frozen Red Curry with Lobster Salad and Lychee Foam.
Frozen Red Curry with Lobster Salad and Lychee Foam.PHOTO: THE NATION

BANGKOK (THE SUNDAY NATION) - The travelling can get a little tiring but Danish chef Henrik Yde-Andersen is more than happy to commute between his Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen and his second home, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. 

He recently was in Bangkok to take care of his second venture and also host a “Thai Gastronomic Masterclass” for some 20 members of the media during which he demonstrated how to cook the restaurant’s signature Frozen Red Curry with Lobster Salad and his latest dish, Slow-cooked Beef with Homemade Oyster Sauce.

“Some people say it’s easy to make tom yum soup but it’s equally easy to get it all wrong if you don’t have the right balance. As a foreigner, it’s hard to achieve and I’m still learning about Thai food every day. Thai cooking is so complicated,” Yde-Andersen told his guests.

Danish chef Henrik Yde-Andersen demonstrates how to cook his famous dish of Frozen Red Curry with Lobster Salad. PHOTO: THE NATION

The chef is out to change diners’ perceptions of Thai food. The familiar tastes are there, but are joined by delightfully peculiar new notions. Red curry is transformed into frozen ice cream, and green curry becomes a frothy mousse. Tom kha (galangal in coconut-milk soup) morphs into a chilled frothy mousse and tom yum seafood comes in jelly with the hot and tangy broth served separately on the side

“It’s about original flavours in a modern way.”

The Dane says he was inspired to create his Frozen Red Curry with Lobster Salad during a visit to Koh Chang in Trat province where he saw a long line of foreigners queuing outside a restaurant every night to try its famous red curry. Yde-Andersen discovered that the chefs had added a little condensed milk to the red curry to give it a creamy texture and he later adapted this for his creation.

Yde-Andersen started his demonstration by stir-frying coconut milk with red curry paste and using a whipping siphon to get a creamy but light texture. He later used liquid nitrogen to freeze it. The frozen red curry was served with sous-vide lobster topped with lychee foam and seasoned lightly with fish sauce before being dressed with slices of onion and coriander.

Frozen Red Curry with Lobster Salad and Lychee Foam. PHOTO: THE NATION

This dish happened by accident, he said, explaining that he left out a red curry overnight during the Danish winter and it froze. “It was very tasty though,” he recalled with a grin. At the restaurant, it’s presented on two stacked plates. The top plate has the sweet curry topped with lychee foam and the sous-vide lobster salad with slices of lychee and onion on the side. The lower plate holds liquid nitrogen to keep both the curry frozen and the dramatic fog billowing.

Yde-Andersen fell in love with Thai cuisine while on holiday here in 2000. The holiday, which was planned to last just 10 days, turned into a life-changing trip as he stayed five years living, working and travelling across the country to gain more experience in Thai cuisine.

“I arrived in Krabi and tried, for the first time, Kai Palo (Five Spice Pork and Egg Stew) from a roadside food stall. It was delicious and that remarkable flavourful taste led me to the world of Thai cuisine. It was destiny,” he said.

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin evokes all the elegance and warmth of an old Thai teak house. PHOTO: THE NATION

Upon his return to Denmark in 2005, he teamed up with Thai entrepreneur Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong to open Kiin Kiin (Thai for “let’s eat”) in 2006. The restaurant won its first Michelin star in 2008. The sister Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (Sra Bua means “lotus pond” in Thai) opened in 2010. 

“Fine dining and Michelin stars tend to be associated with French cuisine. How can we bring Thai food to that level? Today, we have a lot of modern equipment in our kitchens that allow us to blend French techniques with Thai flavours. That’s how Kiin Kiin was born,” says the chef, who trained in traditional French cuisine.

During the demonstration, he also showed how to make real oyster sauce. 

“The problem is that oysters are very expensive, but the sauce you get from real oysters is nothing like the bottled one. And it’s very easy to make.”

 Slow-cooked Beef with Homemade Oyster Sauce. PHOTO: THE NATION

 His take on the sauce is to blend of oyster, clear soup derived from steamed mushroom, soy sauce and caramelised sugar in a food blender to get the dense dark brown. He then stir-fries it with garlic, lesser ginger, peppercorn, sweet basil leaves and a bit of sugar and serves it with juicy, sous-vide slices of beef, beef crisps, topped with crispy fried savoy cabbage.

 Seabass with Apple, Celery and Spicy Meringue. PHOTO: THE NATION

When Yde-Andersen is away, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin is under the direction of the head chef Chayawee Satcharitchan. He also introduced his Seabass with Apple, Celery and Spicy Meringue. Here the seabass is pan-fried and slightly seared until the skin is crispy and served with spicy meringue foam. Julienned apple and celery are served on the side and topped with Asian celery and mint leaves and a spicy dressing of passion fruit and yuzu juices, sugar and fish sauce, chilli and garlic.

 Mango with Sticky Rice. PHOTO: THE NATION

  • Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin

  • WHERE: Siam Kempinski Hotel, behind Siam Paragon on Rama I Road. 
    OPEN: noon to 3pm and from 6pm to midnight, daily
    TEL: (02) 162 9000

For dessert, Chayawee offered an innovative version of Mango with Sticky Rice – a glass of sticky rice, ripe mango and mango sorbet topped with cotton candy. It came with a separated pitcher of coconut cream to pour in the glass before eating. 

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin offers a three-course set lunch priced at Bt1,350-plus (food only) and a four-course set lunch at Bt1,500-plus. The signature eight-course dinner set menu “The Journey” costs Bt2,900-plus.

The menus are updated regularly by Yde-Andersen, who frequently visits the restaurant.