A Pan-Asian Master’s Sumptuous Search for Turkish Roots
Claim to fame: A lovingly assembled homage to Turkey and Japan
Reason to go: Sweet scallops swathed in Black Olive Leather
To look out for: The personal attention of Chef Fatih Tutak
Where in the world can one find the finest fish, meat and specialty vegetables from Japan, Spain and elsewhere, mounted artistically to match the opulence of the former home to the Russian Ambassador, recombined lovingly to pay homage to the flavors of a brilliant chef’s native Turkey? You might be forgiven if your first guess wasn’t Bangkok. But it’s only here, at the elegant counter set with sculpted columns, in the hushed front room of one of the city’s best restored fin-de-siècle mansions that Fatih Tutak, Istanbul’s gift to the world of pan-Asian fare, is now working his way home, one remarkably reimagined plate at a time.
The resulting nightly tasting menu, with each dish a story personally narrated by the fastidious chef, is not exactly Turkish cuisine, but more an ironic mosaic of Asian minimalism and nostalgia for the Mediterranean. From his private lair, often blissfully uncrowded and as yet under-patronized by the “high-so” Thai crowd, Tutak enthusiastically brings forth a cavalcade of the simple made luxurious, and luxury made simple – a truly “Signature Journey,” as he calls it, bearing suggestively tongue-in-cheek, and deliciously tongue-in-mouth, titles like “Umami of Anatolia,” “Thracian Terroir,” and, predictably, “Surf & Turk.” Beginning with near-molecular reiterations of Middle Eastern “mezzes,” like a dolma topped with sea urchin, a super-rich baba ganoush and a mini börek stuffed with wagyu, diners’ taste buds are soon led to the heights of intense Kyoto-sourced tomatoes infused with aged pomegranate, topped with frozen parsley and an amazingly fresh Norwegian scallop covered in a “leather” of black olive concentrate and fennel-dusted foam, all presented on slate and stone trays.
The most Turkish touch of all is a single manti dumpling, labeled “From My Mum,” swirled with a thick cheese and a hint of mint. To top it all off, there’s a truffle of Peruvian chocolate ready to be plucked from a miniature bonsai tree as well as chestnut tarte accompanied by a granite-like ice cream of bitter Turkish coffee. The chef more than lives up to his philosophy of “sharing art, culture and roots through innovation.” And, he vows, having at last found his unique niche in the culinary world, this is just the beginning.
Service is utterly personal, augmented by an adjoining bar that conjures a gentleman’s retreat. This House, in the shadow of the city’s tallest highrise and the glitzy youth-oriented W Hotel, is not a home, but it is a dazzling showplace flowing from one Bangkok chef of singular background and imagination.