Ahead of our visit, I sent some questions for PR about the property and the in-house Public Relations Rep, Beau said she would meet me during our stay. We saw some of the suites in the property and she showed us some of the restaurants open to guests and the public. Within the hotel there is a massive restaurant in the lobby, downstairs a western-style bakery, a small restaurant opposite that one with convenient lunch options, and then in the adjacent mall, the Dining Room.
On the same lower level as their bar and street cafes was the Cigar Room. This is as good as it gets. The cigar room was everything you would hope it to be, private, dark, filled with big leather chairs and a full bar. The only thing that was missing was Winston Churchill with a 12 inch cigar and a top hat. While the cigar room is for paid members only, guests staying in the hotel (not just any diamond member that happens to be in the city) can also partake. They have cigars for sale but mostly hold their clients cigars in their humidifier.
The Team Room
My mother, brother, the Sherpstress and Sherpita were meeting there for lunch and Beau offered to order for us at the Dining Room. If you are ever presented with the opportunity for a local Thai person to order you food and explain what you are eating, do not pass it up.
Beau was amazing and so was the food. It is important to note that my mother, while wonderful, is not experienced with travel as the rest of us are. She visited us on an extensive trip with my Dad to Europe while we lived there, and has been to many Caribbean countries but nothing like Asia, nothing so far out of her comfort zone. She also has her own likes and dislikes, as anyone does and Asian food is not on her like list most of the time. This made our time with Beau at lunch, which was certainly one of the finest dining experiences we have had in Asia, a little nerve racking for me. Beau was sharing her culture, her childhood memories with us through her food and I was worried about my mother’s desire to participate.
Instead of listing the individual courses, I will simply say that I had never had such a variety of Thai cuisine. There was a mix of northern and southern Thai food, some classics like curry and crab fried rice, but nothing was as good as the Mango Sticky Rice.
Here are some of the dishes we tried:
(Tom Yum Goon! How I miss you)
Mango Sticky Rice
In perhaps the ultimate expat sin, my wife and I never tried Mango Sticky Rice the entire time we lived in Thailand. It doesn’t make sense on the surface. It’s savory rice served warm with a layer of coconut milk and then chilled, peeled and diced mango topped with sesame seeds. Eating them all together in the same bite is the probably the greatest thing in the world. If you want to convince yourself that it is health food (coconut, steamed white rice and fruit – that’s health food right?) then sure, go ahead and do that. But it’s probably not. It is, however fantastic!
Back to Mom for a second. I couldn’t have been a prouder son. There were things that I could tell were not her cup of tea (though she had a cup of that too) but Beau couldn’t- and that was huge for me. She ate things she could not identify, food that was completely foreign to her and tried to find the good in all of it. But that’s what good mothers do, right? They find the best in every situation and don’t show their cards that it’s not going as planned. Who would have thought that over a meal in Bangkok I would have found this new level of respect that only comes as an adult witnessing your mother’s reaction in an uncomfortable situation.
Beau picked up the tab on dinner which was generous but unnecessary. We will be returning to the Dining Room in a few weeks because it was excellent food and now I know exactly what to order… when I show the waitress pictures on my iPhone.
Lastly, following lunch, Beau showed us something I will never forget. She took us out of the mall and down to the Erawan temple, from which the Grand Hyatt Erawan gets its name. She is a Buddhist and explained what was going on in the temple, why the dancers were dancing and singing and participated in some of the rituals. I am not Buddhist but I really appreciated her showing another side to her culture, it was a very personal exchange.
Months ago, terrorists bombed the Erawan temple outside of the hotel. Reverberations struck hotel and guests were shaken up though not physically harmed. More than a dozen people lost their lives that day for reasons political and not religious. I covered some of these things previously in the post about the incident, but it’s worth repeating. Innocent civilians did not come home, civilians that could have been the manager, Adam Zilber, Beau or even us if we were visiting at the time. I emailed to ask if everyone was safe right after the blast and thankfully they all were out of harms way.
However, as I prepare to return the Grand Hyatt Erawan, it will be with a heavy heart for those that perished, but also gratitude that Beau and the team will be there to greet me. This time, lunch is on us.
More on the Grand Hyatt Erawan to come…