The second branch of Paste
is a beautiful restaurant serving refined and delicious Thai dishes. The double-height window panes facing CentralWorld make for an impressive backdrop for the minimal decor and handful of showpieces: giant strips of silkworm cocoons rising up to the ceiling, glass domes housing leafy arrangements and circular nooks formed by sculptural banquettes.
Paste’s plating is equally becoming: relaxed and effortless despite a painterly attention to color. The vibrant multitude of ingredients makes for a complex layering of lively flavors, too, like in the duck salad, which comes with (deep breath) banana flower, coriander, chili, lychee, white sesame seeds, cucumber, toasted rice, roasted coconut slices, soy sprouts, fried garlic, flecks of seaweed, shallots and Vietnamese mint. Despite this incredible diversity, flavors and textures remain distinct. Take the watermelon salad: the fragrant fruit’s juicy flesh contrasts clearly with the dry ground salmon and crispy slithers of coconut—delicious!
Mains are pared back in contrast with the yam, leaving more space for the quality meats to shine through: Australian beef cheek, wild seabass, kurubota pork belly... Our top pick would be the seabass, served in a curry so light they call it a foam (thankfully, it remains rather creamy), whose white turmeric, lemongrass and fennel notes support the fish’s firm, white flesh perfectly. Service also gets high marks for actually knowing what’s on the plate. More importantly, you can really feel husband and wife chefs Jason Bailey and Bongkoch Satongun’s creativity and personality in their food, which is not always the case at traditionalists like Nahm or Bo.lan. Dishes here remain clearly and authentically Thai, but also refreshingly unique.
Before you book, a few caveats. The place is in a mall (even if it is easy to forget once you’re inside) and a walk through Gaysorn’s corridors is not a fun way to start a meal—neither is an empty dining room. Does it have to do with the prices? Appetizers are mostly B300-390, mains B500-750. The sets are gargantuan but ring in at B950 for lunch (per person, 2 diners minimum) or B1,600/1,900 for dinner (per person, 4 diners minimum). And do note that water comes in the shape of B190-plus-plus bottles of Vittel—French water with Thai food, really? At those prices, the tables’ cheap and chipped laminate deserves mention, as does the absence of the pastry chef on our last visit—not that dessert is included in any of the aforementioned sets. Nitpicking aside, Paste deserves much, much more recognition for its superlative offerings.