Savoey is a chain of Thai restaurants with nine outlets in Bangkok — all in malls. That should tell you a bit of what you need to know if you haven’t visited before. They make decent food: mid-priced Thai dishes with an emphasis on seafood and recipes that aren’t too spicy to accommodate tourist palates.
Among their signatures are pad thai, spare ribs, spring rolls, green curry fish balls, and pineapple fried rice — a dish a Thai friend once told me no Thai person would actually eat.
We stopped in recently expecting a quick, decent lunch that wouldn’t be too memorable, and it delivered. But when the server placed a dessert menu in front of us, we were surprised.
Savoey is letting their chefs get pretty wild with the finishers and we had to try some of these weird and wonderful Thai-meets-Europe treats. We were not sorry at all.
The one that sounded the tastiest was Coconut Panna Cotta with Stuffed Water Chestnut (THB85). This dessert wouldn’t have been a surprise if it popped up on the menu of one of the restaurants recently named to the Michelin Guide, it was that good. A pretty, creamy white patty of rich panna cotta — a traditionally Italian sweet cream gelatin dessert — this one gets some of its slippery texture from fresh coconut. The pink bits, which we originally mistook for giant mutant pomegranate seeds — were actually candied water chestnut that provided a nutty, savory foil to the panna cotta. The whole deal was swimming in a pleasantly sugary coconut broth.
Up next was Coconut Ice Cream with Diced Mango and Butter Cake (THB85). While none of these items is unusual in and of itself — coconut and mango being the most standard Thai dessert fare — the mixture of traditionally Western rich diced butter cake made the dish much more satisfying. In the same way that the rice in mango sticky rice adds a depth and salty heaviness to the dish, this does the same but with a Western touch. It was nicely done.
The third in the trio of things we had to try was one that appealed least in form but most in creativity. Affogato with Grass Jelly and Rolled Thai Wafers (THB85) was a bit off-putting. We are not fans of grass jelly. The texture, like overdone Jell-O, and the bitter taste repel us equally. While we are lovers of the ice cream-and-espresso combo known as affogato, it has to be made with good ingredients. Chain restaurants aren’t known for producing great ice cream or espresso, both critical to the affogato experience.
However, the idea of affogato, a caffeinated drink/dessert popular in Italy, and grass jelly, an ingredient added to the most Asian of Asian drinks, was interesting.
As we expected and feared, the espresso was overdone with a slightly burned taste which was tempered by the ice cream. The grass jelly did not fail to be grass jelly, so we weren’t into it — but the addition of the Thai rolled wafer added yet another textural (and cultural!) dimension. It incorporated the concept of coffee being served with a small biscuit in parts of Europe, but instead they used the cookie everyone buys in the airport as a souvenir of Thailand. The ideas seemed so playful that it almost didn’t matter that it wasn’t the best tasting dessert we’d ever had.
We applaud Savoey for their fun, fusion, risk-taking desserts. We’d love to see them let these dessert chefs loose on their main menu.
We visited the Savoey in Mercury Ville mall, but you can find all their locations on their website.
Mercury Ville, 2nd Floor
540 Ploenchit Rd.
Open daily, 11am-9pm