POTONG is a rising star in the gourmet world in Bangkok. This saying is not an exaggeration. As a fine Chinese dining restaurant, POTONG surprises local foodies with how Chinese food can be presented and savored. POTONG literally means ‘ordinary (普通)’ in Chinese. It is the brand name of Chef Pam’s family business in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Now, the brand has come into the hands of the fourth generation. It no longer cures customers’ illnesses. Instead, POTONG satisfies their thirst for experiencing authentic Chinese food.
I visited POTONG after nearly two years of compulsory home cooking due to COVID-19. It was a fine dining experience that I had been longing for. It was also the very first time when I could enjoy a meal in a restaurant with wine after two years. I felt genuinely excited to dine inside a century-old building where nostalgia and modernity (aka. Yin and Yang) agreeably met. The ground floor of POTONG is a reception area. The dining areas are on the second floor and above. We were lucky enough to be seated at a table in front of a Guandi altar on the third floor.
Chef Pam’s dinner menu consisted of 20 courses. They were full of sweet memories of her Chinese origin in Bangkok. The dinner was far better than expected. The balanced and delicate taste of each course exemplified our Chinese traditional belief in the balance of senses. The original flavour of the ingredients used in each dish subtly complemented each other. Not one single ingredient or flavour was overpowering. Each bite was so pleasing and immensely unforgettable on the taste buds. Her cuisine is a combination of food authenticity and fun dining. Each diner was given a special postcard that tells the story of POTONG and its neighbourhood. Modern cooking techniques were introduced to her cooking, changing a familiar Chinese dish into a new dish through creative plating and presentation. The recommended wine pairing was definitely a plus for the dinner experience. Each wine was carefully selected to enhance the overall enjoyment.
The dining experience was a journey of Chinatown’s history. The dessert box was surprisingly fun. It is a turnable model of the alleys around POTONG; it is the memory of Chef Pam’s childhood. While turning the model to explore all the sweets, I felt like looking at the mini-Chinatown from the top. Vivid memories of exploring the bustling Chinatown’s alleys came back. It was always crowded, noisy, and full of enticing smells. Delicious delicacies could be found along each alley and at intersections and corners. That’s the golden time when street food and local shopping were inseparable. That’s also the charm of the Chinatown