It’s been more than a year and every good memory about it remains still. Sukhothai successfully brought back the sweetest of my dine outs memory with its carefully preserved, authentic Thai cuisine. As one of the oldest Thai restaurant in Jakarta and still a hidden gem, I feel the urge to share you my fantastic culinary journey there recently.
The recently rebranded The Media Hotel & Towers (previously Sheraton) is now unrelentingly promoting the new image both as a hotel and as a culinary destination. The director of PR, Mr Muhammad Iqbal who happens to be a good friend of mine, again invited me for another dinner session at Sukhothai and this time with several of my fellow food bloggers.
I remember my last encounter with Sukhothai during my assignment for Hang Out Jakarta magazine like more than a year ago to interview Executive Chef Firdaus Fadly (currently somewhere in Africa according to Mr Iqbal). That time I was instantly fallen in love with Sukhothai – the place, the atmosphere, and definitely, the food.
My second visit was again during dinner time or to be exact, for an Iftar. Although we had to commute quite far but I knew it that it’s for something good. The journey itself felt as if blessed by The Providence. We were still on the bus during azan Maghrib and we had forgotten to bring a mineral water for Tajil. Stranded with nothing to break our fast apart from a candy my wife gave me, all of a sudden a stranger gave me a labeled mineral water. It’s what my jovial friend used to say as, ‘Ada pekerjaan di atas’ which literally meant that there’s a building construction going on but here, it was more of God’s work and I am grateful for it!
It was timeless in Sukhothai perhaps as far as 15 years of its existence. Still the same color, the same tone, the same ambiance, and the same design that made me comfy. Traditionally, we all sat upon a cushion on the wooden floor and like Japanese style tatami flooring, where being barefooted is a must.
The all-you-can-eat menu here is something that you shouldn’t underestimate even though the choices are pretty limited. There, you can choose from appetizers until the desserts. To start the evening, we had the most appetizing opener ever namely pla takrai or very similar to Bali’s sate lilit. It’s a fried marinated fish with lemongrass and the herbs were quite strong but it created a beautiful mixture of savory flavor and traditional feel. While other appetizers we tried were gai hor baytoi or the fried marinated chicken wrapped pretty with pandanus leaves and mango sambal known as yam mamuang. The sambal may be also familiar for us Indonesians but the Thai signature style involves a higher rate of sourness and intense flavor. It may not be easy but it’s definitely refreshing.
The spice and sour thing also found in Sukhothai’s seafood tom yum soup (tom yum thalay). The taste was very fresh, but some may consider it too strong for their palate, and richly filled with fish, squids, clams, and prawns. Other options you can try here are also involving soupy dishes such as tom som (sweet and sour soup with crispy deep-fried fish) and kwe tiaw phed yang (perhaps quite similar with Chinese kwetiaw but added with duck).
Main courses were interesting and abundant, both of them were my favorites – the phad poh taek or the stir-fried seafood with herbs and chili and phad kapraw nuea or more like minced meat with chili and basil. Plenty of original Thai herbs involved and particular Thai style flavors – rich, sharp, and unique. With those came the most exciting side dishes. It’s pretty much similar with Chinese style dishes of fried rice or stir-fried vegetables but definitely Thai self-stylized.
For instance, the khao pad sapparod was one of the most delicious fried rice dishes I had ever encountered. Served upon a pineapple, the fried rice made with optimizing the spices and herbs at their best serving time after cooking them and to be then diluted with the rice. Not only was that it tasty but also fragrant, sweet, and rich. Other good alternatives would be khao pad plakem or the fried rice with salted fish and add that with stir-fried broccoli or water spinaches for your vegetables intake.
To seal the deal, I personally chose the tam tim krob where the main ingredient was merah delima or red water chestnut made crispy with yams and served in a cold, sweetened coconut milk syrup. If you want something ‘dry’, the man suam would also prove to be formidable to end your dinner. It’s basically a simmered cassava with sweetened coconut milk syrup.
While some dishes may be already quite familiar with our culinary culture but a small journey to Sukhothai has always been fruitful and pleasant. I am definitely looking forward for another visit and the all-you-can-eat scheme is indeed valuable package for everyone to share. Plenty of great, classic cuisine standardized well for years under the masterful skill of Chef Sidik, known to receive personal tutelage in Thai culinary from the masters back in Thailand years ago.
So, if you happen to plan yourself a visit there, don’t forget to tag me along then!
SUKHOTHAI (THE MEDIA HOTEL AND TOWERS)
Some menu suitable for vegetarians
Address: Jl. Gunung Sahari 3, Jakarta – Indonesia
RSVP: +62.21.626.3001 ext. 4605
Opening Hours: Daily – Lunch 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm, Dinner 6 pm – 10.30 pm
BB Pin: 276AE2CE
Pricing: All-you-can-eat currently available at IDR 175,000 nett per pax (on limited dishes).
More pictures will be added soon!