Nothing brings out the spirit and soul of Thai culinary culture than combining grandma’s secret recipes with fancy modern cocktails. Nothing brings out the party like this pairing, either. Coconuts recently had the opportunity to experience this unique pairing at the Mekhong Elite Table, a sophisticated event that showcased the finest selection of locally sourced ingredients and spiced rum-based cocktail.
Don’t worry, we’ll show you how you can get in on the action at the end. Read on, and get hungry.
Sabai, Sabai: A refreshing welcome drink starts the evening.
The first thing we noticed as we entered the event was the unique setting of the family-run Thai restaurant, Sri Trat. It has the ambiance of an elegant speakeasy bar with a fine dining feel. We could get used to this!
The evening started with a welcoming refreshment, ‘Mekhong Thai Sabai.’ To say this cocktail is rejuvenating is an understatement, it translates to Thai comfort, after all. Just imagine a mojito, with mint leaves replaced by zesty basil leaves — a cool palate cleanser and an outstanding summer cocktail. (Recreate it at home with Mekhong, fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar syrup, basil leaves, and ice.)
First up: Riceberry crackers served with a creamy dip of crab meat and crab roe, with the Winter Star cocktail.
The first of many incredible delights over the 6-course dinner was riceberry crackers served with creamy dip made from crab meat and crab roe. Sounds impressive right? Wait until you hear about its pairing. The Winter Star is a mix you cannot find anywhere else. It’s elegantly fizzed, and has a pleasant scent and taste of starfruit and bread flower. No, that’s not a typo by a carb-crazed writer. Bread flower is rare specimen, picked only at night, and often used in Thai candle scenting cooking techniques.
The pairing was unusual to our taste buds, yet it worked well. The rich creamy dip on top of the riceberry crackers and the cleansing cocktail looked (and tasted) like yin and yang. They balanced each other out very nicely.
Appetizers: Grilled okra with Trat shrimp paste and sweet shredded sillago fish, with My Roselle cocktail.
Enter the appetizers: grilled okra with Trat shrimp paste and sweet sillago fish, paired with My Roselle cocktail. Curious as we were about the unorthodox combination, it turned out surprisingly well. The shrimp paste provided a savory sensation, while the sillago fish provided a pleasantly salty hit. The cider-like sweetness and sourness of the starfruit helped balance the okra, shrimp and fish paste extremely well. Surprise surprise — okra and roselle have the same Thai name kra-jiab, and in reality they are pretty similar. Same family, different species, one interesting pairing.
Palate Cleanser: Pearl grouper and fried taro clear soup.
A break from the cocktail ritual. This specialty requires no pairing; it’s meant to cleanse the palate before making the leap to the main course. Gentle in both consistency and flavor, this soup achieved its goal, as the peppery broth left us feeling fresh, clean, and ready for more. Also, props to the playful teapot design which made it even more visually stunning.
First Course: Grilled squid in curry paste, fluffy jasmine rice tossed with eastern curry paste and coconut, accompanied by grilled tiger prawn, with Spice L’inferno cocktail .
The presentation and taste definitely live up to the very long name of this dish. Be warned, should you ever try this at Sri Trat, because the grilled squid in curry paste is hot, hot, hot. It was kind of like someone forgetting to turn off the oven in our mouth, but you know what they say, pain is pleasure! The curry sauce is made from a blend of red curry paste and southern-style curry paste, and we all know what southern Thai curry is famous for…🌶🌶🌶.
Despite its spiciness overload (we dare you to try it), the dish carried a unique composition of herbal, coconut-y richness. (Anything with coconut is always our fave — wink wink.) But the squid was the star of this dish due to the incredibly soft, and perfectly chewy texture.
Just when we thought our mouth was turning extremely flammable, the hotness was extinguished by the fluffy rice. Smell is so important in Thai cuisine and the aroma of the curry was mellow and as pleasing as a savory main dish could be.
The drink to complement these dishes needed to be cooling, chilled and smooth to counter the spice. Spice L’inferno cocktail was exactly that. It provided a (very!) much needed soothing remedy. With a green herb aroma clouding over it. In case you’re curious why the drink has ‘spice’ in its name, it’s because it contains a syrup extraction from pepper, clove, and galangal, not to mention that Mekhong is already a spiced rum carrying notes of ginger, chili, honey, caramel, and cinnamon. A spice-tastic combination, that miraculously put out the heat from the main course.
Dessert: Rice balls with jackfruit in sweet coconut milk broth.
We meet again, coconut milk! The classic bua loy recipe is given a makeover here, with a softened jackfruit seed stuffed inside the rice ball. It’s hard to describe, but you can imagine it as something like a potato crushed and mixed with pumpkin — that’s boiled jackfruit seed. Balls of rice flower along with sliced jackfruit float daintily on the coconut milk broth. Fun fact: coconut milk is made infinitely better by adding jackfruit to enhance the scent and flavor. No cocktails needed here, because this little bowl of heaven works just fine on its own.
Mekhong Elite Table and Sri Trat’s new winter menu
So, did the pairings go well? We’d say they were every bit the success. And to our surprise, we found a new pairing of our own when we accidentally sipped My Roselle with the grilled squid in curry paste. The sweetness of the cocktail perfectly offset the spicy curry.
Dish after dish, the chemistry between the food and the drinks played out nicely on our palates. One didn’t overpower the other, just the way that the creator of Sri Trat planned.
Now, how can you, dear reader, experience this dining wonder? Follow Mekhong on Facebook for more delicious Thai run-infused cocktail recipes, like the ones we tried, and stay updated on the latest events, including the next Mekhong Elite Table.
As for Sri Trat, these pairings were a preview of the restaurant’s upcoming winter menu. To match with dropping end-of-year temperatures, the menu was created to make diners feel warm and cozy. Also, almost all of the ingredients are locally sourced during the winter season only.
Just remember, when you’re dining at Sri Trat this December, warm your inner soul with a Mekhong-infused cocktail that showcases true Thai flavors. Head to Mekhong’s official website to learn more about the history of this iconic Thai spirit.
What: Sri Trat
Where: Sukhumvit 33 (BTS Phrom Phong)
When: Sun-Thu 12PM – 11PM, Fri-Sat 12PM – 1AM (Closed on Tuesday)