Bangkok’s latest Spanish restaurant does arroz meloso, paella’s creamy cousin.
A house-turned-restaurant whose name literally translates to “rice” in Spanish, Arroz vies for the title of best-paella-in-town with the offerings of Spanish chef-owner Victor Burgos (formerly of Thyme), whose portfolio includes stints at Michelin-starred restaurants like The Principle in Hong Kong.
Thanks to one of those charming mid-century homes dotted around Thonglor, it has a quaintly residential feel. The colorful tiles, custom-made clay pots and dishware add a requisite touch of exoticism while a little garden provides outdoor seating. The menu balances some chef-driven specials with plenty of Spanish classics.
The latter span from tapas to paella, all of which have a bright intensity of flavor. The thin slices of jamon iberico (B750, 50g or B1,400, 100g) explode with umami and nutty notes. The boquerones (white anchovies marinated in vinegar, B650) have a zingy tartness, blasts of garlic and a briny flavor—fresh but strong. The assorted croquettes (B215) on special are no less muscular thanks to a filling whose blue-cheese kick almost overwhelms the ham and mushroom.
There are some seven paellas to choose from, such as the seafood (B1,200 for 2, B2,300 for 4), but also another eight dishes the menu describes as “brothy rice,” a translation of caldoso, which can be somewhere between a paella and risotto. As it’s not served in a pan, you don’t get those amazing crispy bits the paellas possess, but the black creamy rice with monkfish cheek (B460) is still an absolute must-order. The rice broth just bursts with beautiful seafood and shellfish notes; the chewy bits of octopus add yet another layer of texture to the firm but yielding rice; the monkfish is delicate yet flavorful.
If you do go for the paella, it’s hugely satisfying, but less restrained. We’d even argue it too is a tad too salty. Burgos is equally comfortable with more refined plating, such as the octopus on a bed of potato parmentier (B750). Here too, the octopus is somehow both tender and chewy, but the lightly charred pimento (paprika) coating takes the dish in a lighter, almost North African direction.
In contrast to all this, desserts are underwhelming. Nor is service fine-dining smooth. But they’re a smiling and helpful bunch; Burgos comes out of the kitchen to greet diners personally; and the wine is affordable (starting B165/glass). As such, we wish Arroz were busier. This is one hugely talented and honest kitchen Bangkok needs to keep. Corkage B400