The blue LEDs, the sturdy, Victorian-industrial furnishings (lamps plonked on vintage telescope tripods, cocoa leather seats riveted with brass): Elements speaks of a restaurant that was the height of trend five years ago. But while the dining room at the Okura Prestige hotel’s modern fine-dining flagship may have stood still, the food has not. From early insistences that it served something called “modern logical cuisine,” the restaurant has now found its niche doing French cuisine with a heavy amount of Japanese influences.
Their set menus start at B1,900 for four courses, but that’s not really enough, so instead you’ll be getting the B2,800 five-course set or going a la carte, and that means you’ll be spending a lot of money. We’d say at least B5,000 for each person at the table after a couple of glasses of wine. On the subject of wine: it starts at B450 by the glass, and that’s just way too much. This is not esoteric, hard-to-find stuff, either, and nor do they pour it with a care-free hand. And there's no getting round it with corkage, for which they'll sting you even harder at B1,500.
Good job, then, that some of the food here is excellent. The miso consomme with seared scallop (B410) has a broth so delicate to look at you’d never guess it was turbocharged with such flavor. A main course of soy-marinated duck breast (B950) is equally awesome: smoky eggplant; rich, sweet duck meat; a croquette of confit duck which is every bit as good as a croquette of confit duck sounds. The menu says the jus has yuzu in it. We don’t taste it and nor do we care. Then for dessert, a tangy miso ice cream (set menu only) that plays beautifully against a rod of tightly packed layers of stuff chocolate-y and gooey.
For the most part those Japanese touches work well, if not always. The “uni butter” in the crab risotto only interferes with what in its own right is a delicious dish underpinned by a powerful seafood-rich stock. On our last visit, it had needlessly been bumped into a “taraba” crab risotto, and with it the price hiked by 50 percent from B430 to B660. The tuna tataki starter (B410) with a few sad drips of ponzu sauce is also a criminally bland way to start the meal.
With its Japanese nods and conceptual tasting menu, Elements begs comparison with the House on Sathorn, where we can’t help feeling that the food is on that next level, the dining room more special, the service more at-ease, and the bill more understandable why you just paid it. Corkage B1,500