Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don Giovanni Italian Restaurant In Bangkok

Don Giovanni, the Italian restaurant in the Sofitel Centara Hotel, is indeed named for what may the greatest opera of all time. At least, that’s what the menu introduction here says and not being an opera buff I can’t comment on that one way or another. However, I do know that they orchestrate some very nice dining experiences as I’ve had dinners and lunches here on a number of occasions over the years and have always been satisfied with the food and service.

Some parts of the menu have changed over the years and some have stayed the same as different chefs have come and gone. However, the basic philosophy has remained in place and that involves serving top-quality food and wine with formal service and attention to details. Also, the menu always has always had many traditionally-based dishes as well as some updated versions of classic dishes from the chefs’ own repertoires.

One thing that is definitely classic at Don Giovanni is their strict adherence to the traditional way of making a Caesar’s Salad. This is, I believe, the only place in town where you can get a Caesar’s Salad made at your tableside. This may not seem like a big deal but to some purists a Caesar is not a Caesar unless it’s made at the table. I’m not that strict about it personally but I do think that the original recipe should be followed or it’s really not a Caesar Salad is it? Many times I have eaten in a trendy Italian place, or others too, and the chef in the restaurant decides that his interpretation of a Caesar Salad is superior to that of Chef Caesar Cardini who originated this creation in his Tijuana, Mexico restaurant in 1924. The results sometimes are ludicrous with the chef throwing in everything but the kitchen sink in a vain attempt to put his personal mark on this signature dish. They should just do themselves a favor and follow the original recipe as they do at Don Giovanni’s. It will taste better, the purists will be happy and the gastronomic gods will smile upon them.

There are other dishes here, though, where the chefs have used their own ideas as to how certain dishes should be presented. I don’t always agree with them: carpaccio, for example, should be made of beef and not tuna or veal, but usually we’re on the same page, so to speak. In the appetizer section there’s a great example of mixing top-end ingredients when they serve a goose liver creme brulee with pan-fried foie gras, apple mousse and black truffle sauce. The richness of foie gras and truffles together is just plain delicious and only on the edge of overdoing it.

The rest of this ample menu contains enough choices to keep anyone happy whether you want something simple like spaghetti with an oregano and tomato sauce or something a little more elaborate like a baked rack of lamb with black pepper crust and tarragon-infused lamb sauce. My own favorites include the deep-fried seafood plate, the Australian sirloin and the pan-roasted tenderloin wrapped in pancetta bacon with foie gras. There are many more that I like from all the sections of the menu – risottos, pastas, soups, appetizers and the meat and fish entrees – but these are the ones that have left the deepest impression.

There are plenty of good wines to accompany your meal here as well in the enclosed wine cellar inside the restaurant. These, along with the service and the food here, will have you singing Don Giovanni’s praises yourself, perhaps not in an operatic style, but joyously nonetheless.

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