Forget the old Niche. The Siam Kempinski's casual-dining restaurant has been given a new, better lease of life
Niche from our previous experiences, was that typical hotel restaurant that served overpriced beef burgers and pork pad kra pao. Thanks to the new executive chef, James Norman, however, the sheer banality of its menu has been given a quirky edge.
The new Niche is all about simplicity. Norman, who previously worked the kitchens at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi and Grand Hotel Kempinski in Geneva, turns out a menu with zero pretension by putting the spotlight on a particular main ingredient. All a diner needs to do is choose whether you want it cooked in an Asian or Western style, and then leave the kitchen to work on some magic.
To our surprise, each dish we were served was a winner. Seared scallops were served with cauliflower purée and couscous for a non-Asian appetizer option (B340), and then fried and coated with crunchy coconut crisps (B340) for those who prefer a more Asian flavor. Recommended for mains are baked snowfish served with douchi black bean sauce,crisps and guava chive salad (B690) and a butter-soft wagyu sirloin spiced with piri piri (B790). We capped off our meal with oversized eclairs, one filled with bittersweet banoffee cream and topped with candied pecans (B250), and another stuffed with Thai milk tea and topped with whipped cream and chewy tapioca pearls (B250).
The bar also follows the same Asian/Western rules. If you’re into gin and want something with Western leanings, ask for the lychee cocktail with elderflower liqueur and fresh lemongrass (B290). For something sweet and refreshing, go for the Asian Berries cocktail (umeshu, banana liqueur and lime, B290).
In contrast to the fun menu, Niche’s interiors are simple, dimly lit and furnished with dark wood. To avoid dining in the dark, ask for a table by the glass window which looks out to the hotel’s swimming pool and the outdoor terrace. A chalkboard scribbled with an explanation of “Asian or non-Asian” theme seems a bit repetitive; some cool graffiti art would have given the place a sense of playfulness. Regardless, a meal at Niche has exceeded our expectations and, for the food alone, has become one of our favorite places for dinner in town.
Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan