Seafood and Champagne at the World Gourmet Festival
The 17th annual edition of Thailands’s famous food festival at the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel offers all sorts of surprises.
Published on Sep 21, 2016
“Anyone cook crab at home?” asks Dharshan Munidasa with a twinkle in his eye. As a theatrical touch, he’s holding two massive crabs, one in each hand, for his rapt audience to see. The half-Japanese, half-Sri Lankan chef certainly knows a thing or two about these crustaceans. Ministry of Crab, his eatery housed in a restored four-century-old hospital in Colombo, holds a place of honor on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list and has made him a household name among seafood aficionados. “Now, before we start to cook, the first step is knowing your crab. Can anyone tell me what the best part is?”
Again, the audience members are silent, waiting to see what the maestro might say.
“Most people go for the claw, but this part here happens to be my favorite,” he holds up a finned leg. “That is because this meat, this muscle, is the most exercised part.”
To demonstrate his point, he begins preparing one of his signature dishes, a sublimely simple creation seasoned with little more than a touch of Japanese soy sauce and fragrant olive oil, on the gleaming work kitchen. He offers up tasting samples and he’s right—that little morsel of meat is sweet, saline and bursting with flavor. Even more satisfying are his crab shells stuffed with more crab, panko and Japanese rice, a combination he attributes to his Tokyo roots. “Even as a kid, I only wanted to eat Japanese rice with Sri Lankan curry.”
As satisfying as these buttery morsels and this live cooking demo are, they’re just a small taste of the offerings at the 17th World Gourmet Festival at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel. Over the course of the week, Munidasa and eight other all-star chefs will dazzle guests with elaborate multicourse tasting menus. Some of the other heavy-hitters include Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur in Menton, France, Anthony Genovese of Il Pagliaccio in Rome, and Hideaki Sato of Ta Vie in Hong Kong.
While the dinners are the main culinary event, the festivities also extend to daytime hours. When entering the sumptuously decorated lobby, it’s impossible not to notice the elaborate displays of bottles from six of the world’s top champagne houses. Guests looking to savor the ambiance with a glass of bubbly in hand can embark on a tasting “journey” with one of two passports. The silver offers three glasses, while the gold grants the owner a full six.
If that sounds a touch too decadent for one evening, don’t worry—you can stop by each day of the festival between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. for a passport stamp and an aperitif. It’s the perfect way to add a bit of glamour to any day. We’ll cheers to that.