The first of three snacks paired with a 2014 Ameztoi Txakolina from Basque Spain. Each bite was an explosion of flavors that transported us to central Thailand without ever leaving Portland.
First course: soup of bouncy pork meatball, cuttlefish, chanterelles, pea tips and pea shoots served with a 2014 Teutonic Pinot Gris from Crow Valley Vineyard in Oregon. The peach flavors of the Pinot Gris sang with the rich yet subtle flavors of the soup. Perhaps my favorite course and pairing.
A duo of salads paired with a 2012 Kesselstatt Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett from Mosel, Germany. The first salad was absolutely brilliant in it’s flavors and textures. The second salad was nice but the flavorings over powered the delicate nature of the salmon. The residual sugar in the wine paired phenomenally well with both dishes.
The main course was a trio of more substantial dishes served in an interesting order: Black Cod followed by stewed Duck and curried Maine lobster. They paired it with a Pear cider from Eric Bordelet in Normandy, France. The dishes were very good. I loved the cider and would buy it in a heartbeat for my home. We both felt it lacked the depth and structure to pair seamlessly with any of the three dishes. If it had a touch of acid on the finish to provide a more three dimensional feel in my mouth it would have been a grand slam. Nonetheless we love the interesting pairings and thought the wine director should be given a gold star.
The two desserts were very good. The custard of pandanus was unbelieveable. It was such an unexpected combination of flavors and textures that it left me longing for more and more and more. The first dessert of a tapioca with summer melon and granita could have been better. The problem was the way the kitchen was plating everything in stages and serving the entire dining room en masse. When I got up to go to the restroom I saw our plates sitting on the edge of the kitchen counter with the granita already melting. By the time I returned to my seat there was no chance the granita was still a granita. It was completely melted and should have been replaced to provide the icy texture one longs for.
The crew behind Langbaan, from their web page:
Akkapong Earl Ninsom: Chef/Owner
Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. He grew up cooking since an early age, making curry paste and dipping sauce are always part of his family dinner. His mom would send him to get ingredients from a neighborhood market every week. He cooked his 1st dish at 8 years old when his mom got sick. During summer break, his family takes him to visit his grandma’s in Suratthani (in the south) and learn to cook Southern style food from the small charcoal cooking stove. Also, visit another grandma in Lopburi province to have a very delicious old school Central Thai food, his grandma’s sweet pork belly dish is still in his memories.
After college in 2000, his mom sent him to stay with his uncle in Los Angeles who has a very delicious Thai E-san restaurant. He started from cleaning everything, washing dishes, wiping table, mopping floor and helping them prep.
He became more obsess about cooking and start reading more cookbooks and ask to stage at the restaurants including Nahm and Bo.lan in Bangkok, Thailand. When, he went back to Thailand he would learn from a friend’s sister and her mom who used to cook in The Thai palace.
In 2008 he helped his family start Thai cottage restaurant on N. Lombard (St. Johns), now run by his brother & sister. In 2009 he co-found Mee-Sen Thai eatery and co-found PaaDee restaurant in 2011. He helped designed & builded Tarad Thai market and restaurant, which run by his brother in 2013. LangBaan is the latest addition to his creation in February 2014.
Rassamee Ruaysuntia: Chef
Buriram Province, Thailand
Born and raised in Buriram province (Northeastern of Thailand). She has worked in several of Thailand’s best restaurants including Asia’s No.1 ‘Nahm’ and Bangkok top 10 restaurants at Appia Italian restaurant and Soul food mahanakorn. She moved to Bangkok when she was 15 and start working at one of the most famous traditional Thai dessert house. Then, went on to work in a Japanese restaurant and later on was hired to be one of the opening cook at Soul food mahanakorn, then was hired to work at Nahm. Later on, she was part of the opening team of Appia before decided to come to Portland in October 2013.
Duangduean Tattaruji: Chef
Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand
Born and raised in Hatyai, Songkhla (Southern of Thailand). She has started cooking at an early age at her family restaurant in Hatyai for 15 years before decided to move to Bangkok to work at Sukhothai hotel, one of the best Thai cuisine hotel restaurant in the country. She has spent time at several hotel restaurants including Metropolitan hotel where she was in charge of the hotel chefs’ food preparation which is one of the most difficult job before moving to Portland with Rassamee in October 2013.
The good, the bad and the ugly:
The meal was an amazing sensory trip to Central Thailand. I thoroughly enjoyed the range of flavors that encompassed our meal. The kitchen staff expertly created dishes that dazzled my mouth and left me longing for more. It is not often you get a wait staff as extremely knowledgable and passionate about both the food and wine. They were very attentive and responded quickly to our needs.
My complaints are at times I felt the servers should have slowed down a bit. I felt a bit pushed to eat quickly. Both Lisa’s wine glass and soup bowl were yanked before I was finished. It’s my biggest service pet peeve in any restaurant or even eating at someone’s home. When glasses or food is cleared before everyone is done it signals to the rest of the table that you better hurry. I hate that. Dining on this level should be done leisurely to fully savor the flavors and the experience. There also should have been a longer space between courses. We ate eight courses in 1.5 hours. For me, three hours would have been better. I have French blood. I love to talk about my food and ponder it.
My complaints about the food are only it would have been nice to have a bit more texture to the food. A bit of crisp and crunch sets up a great foil to soft foods by providing contrasts. I know we were going to a Thai restaurant but I felt both the wild Hokkaido scallop and salmon were overpowered by spice. The spice was amazing but how often does one taste a Hokkaido scallop? It was a bit lost. I wish they had used wild troll caught salmon from Oregon. Since I sell this fish I can attest that at this time of year the fish is nothing short of amazing.
Everyone should definitely go eat at Langbaan. The food is so fucking amazing and tasty. Earl’s food will transport you to Thailand and leave you wanting more. I would go back tonight if I could get in again. Make a reservation right now. Do not be intimidated by the well deserved six month waiting list. It was great experience with a few hiccups.