Andreas Caminada's Igniv at The St Regis Bangkok is a Fanciful Feast
Should you ever at any point on your trip to Bangkok crave something fancier than an aromatic Thai fry-up, fret not, as the nation's capital boasts some of the best fine dining in Asia – and with it, a staggering variety of cuisines to choose from.
Such is the case with The St Regis Bangkok's Igniv, a modern European restaurant by Swiss celebrity chef Andreas Caminada. The famous founder is also the brains behind the three-Michelin-starred Schloss Schauenstein in Switzerland, and Igniv's first international outpost in Bangkok also hails from the chef's motherland.
We visited the ultra-chic eatery to try the indulgent four-course tasting experience – a meal that we highly recommend adding to your to-eat list whilst in the city.
All images courtesy of Faye Bradley | CSP Times.
Igniv means “nest” in Romansh, which is Chef Caminada's mother tongue. Upon entering the whimsical space, it'll soon become clear that its theme is reflected in its interiors and menu. A subtle colour palette and a design inspired created by Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola make you feel right at home. What intrigued us upon entry though was the playful bar where we sat for our first part of the meal. Walls are decked in head-to-toe scarlett-red hues, contrasting vividly with the rest of the pared-back restaurant. A gigantic photo book dedicated to and signed by Rihanna herself brings a touch of Art Deco to its aesthetic. Vibrant artwork fills the walls, and we eagerly watched from our high seats as the chefs prepared the first bites in front of us. Now is also the best time to get that cocktail sundowners flowing.
With Igniv, sharing is caring. For the four courses head chef David Hartwig prepared, gourmands can expect an array of dishes for each part of the meal. And so, the snacks include the "Taco" served with water chestnut, truffle, gold leaf and mulberry; celery with sea bass and dill; a cornetto filled with foie gras and corn; and the "tartelette" with radish, sorrel and trout roe. Each bite-sized delight stimulates the senses with an empowering flavour at each nibble – especially with the ingredients like truffle, foie gras and dill.
We entered the main dining room, a spacious hall split up into two main areas. Floor-to-ceiling windows fill the room with natural light – we thoroughly enjoyed dining here during the day though we can imagine it's more romantic at night. The second part of the four-course menu serves the starters, six of them. The fruity mocktails were very tasty too.
A refreshing plate of lettuce with green apple and cabbage cleanses the palette for what's to come. Gracefully plated, each starter arrives at the same time, and is served in sharing portions depending on the size of your party. Dishes include the cucumber with tuna and ponzu; green pea, snap peas with buttermilk; hamachi surrounded by tomatillo puree and citrus; a mini toasted sandwich filled with tartare, egg yolk and caviar; jalapeno, tomato and flowers; and langoustine with curry and perilla seed. We especially loved the tartare, a decadent upgrade to your "toastie" to say the least, while the langoustine served on the steaming BBQ offers much more than a show – the succulent Norway lobster takes the Asian perilla seed to new culinary highs with its enticing flavour.
For the mains, we were greeted by four hefty dishes to complete the savoury experience of the meal. The cauliflower with garlic is smothered in creamy brown butter that adds the perfect hint of sweetness to the crispy vegetable. Meanwhile, the BBQ pork neck and pork belly come with onion over a bed of consommé; and the delicate veal striploin with grape and ever-so-thinly-sliced beetroot are a feast for the eyes. To add to your five-a-day the carrot and onion with kimchi are drizzled in rich jus that elevates the dish to juicier flavours.
Those with a fondness for the sweeter things in life will be delighted to hear that there are four desserts – and you won't be stuck for choice, since all of them come out together for sharing. The pickled mango with saffron and sorbet; soufflé, coffee salee and the most innovative of them all, the kai dao with citrus and coconut. In case you're wondering which one that is, it's the one that looks like an egg – but no, it's not a real egg. Pastry chef Arne Riehn created this magnificent dessert that's almost too pretty to eat. And it's wrapped in a make-shift nest.
To top off the meal, waiters will bring you to the "candy store" to take home some of Igniv – and chef Riehn's – confectionary treats.
It's easy to see why Igniv Bangkok already has a Michelin in its pocket as it carries the legacy of Andreas Caminada's Swiss flagship from distant shores. We'll certainly be making a return and be adding Igniv St. Moritz, Igniv Bad Ragaz, Igniv Zurich and Chef Caminada's other culinary ventures including OZ Vegi and Mammertsberg to our itineraries on the next visit to Switzerland.