If I tell you how old Chef Apirawait Chaopo-en (Chef Mai) is, you may be surprised. At a very young age of 26, Chef Mai is already the Executive Chef of Whale’s Belly Restaurant & Bar.
Chatting with the young chef energized me with his passion for cuisines. His previous experience at one of the best French restaurants in Bangkok – Le Normandie of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel has exposed him to ample opportunities to work jointly with quite a lot of 3-Michelin-Starred Chefs from around the world. It was at Le Normandie, as explained by Chef Mai, where he learnt that food could be presented in a beautiful way. Since then, he has developed an intense interest in cuisines and culinary arts. The infusion of his philosophy for cuisine creation is reflected in every dish he creates or prepares – “Everything on the plate must be edible, beautiful and absolutely delicious”.
Despite the fact that he is a talent in blending both French and Italian styles in his culinary techniques, plating and dish presentation, his experience in Chinese cuisine has also made him endeavor to create unforgettable East-meet-West dishes for diners at Whale’s Belly.
(1) “Surf & Turf” 36hours & 62degrees sous-vide pork belly
This dish explicitly shows Chef Mai’s exceptional culinary skills in Chinese cuisine. The Cantonese-styled roast pork was cooked so well that every bite of it melted in my mouth. It had a delicious crisp crackling with tender, moist meat, which was exactly what a roast pork should be. It didn’t taste greasy in the mouth at all. Instead of cutting the roast pork into small pieces, as in Cantonese cuisine, it was presented nicely in western way. It, in fact, surprised me, a Chinese of Hong Kong’s origin, with delight.
(2) Cold Capellini with Crab & Mentaiko
This is another East-meet-West dish that I couldn’t forget. Shiitake and mentaiko were used to add Japanese flavours from the sea to the capellini. Additional flavours from the blue crab meat, white truffle oil and yuzu vinaigrette further made this dish so delicious and irresistible. As one of the signature dishes by Chef Mai, I finished the dish with high satisfaction.
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert that many foodies love to end their meals with. Here, at Whale’s Belly, Chef Mai layers it with distinguished flavours of cocoa, white chocolate, caffeine, etc. It is also not too sweet, allowing you to taste each flavour and experience perfect blend in your mouth. It is the kind of dessert that I would love to order more.
Recently, Chef Mai has created a 9-course set dinner at Whale’s Belly. You may want to visit this charming upscale restaurant for your special events, and experience the culinary skills that Chef Mai could bring you.
For the review on the 9-course set dinner at Whale’s Belly, please click here.