Right at the end of Soi One off Nieman Hamen, you will find the original Mix, established in 2008. The owner, chef and chief designer is Narissorn Somswasdi. Mr. Somswadi’s foundation is in Thai cuisine. The menu, for the most part, reflects this and his respect for Japanese cuisine is the second most prolific influence. In fact, they have a stand-alone Japanese / sushi section.
There is a Chinese section on the menu, as well as veins of Vietnamese, Italian, and French; and as it is impossible to accurately review the substantial menu here, I will leave it at that. It is difficult to categorize Mix. Most establishments fall fairly easily into some category or other, however, Mix does not conform. The food is difficult to pin down because the menu is so large and the variety immense. The many vibrant food photos depicted on the menu are important to convey the carefully crafted dishes. Mr. Somswadi told me that he enjoys using different techniques and applying them to cuisine styles that would be… excuse the pun… foreign. In fact, it is this need to experiment with different preparation and cooking techniques that is the key to explaining the Ethos of Mix.
An example would be the Sous Vide 36 hour braised pork ribs, cooked very gently at 60c, or the use of a Krok (mortar and pestle) to make the salsa topping for the Halibut wrapped seared prawns I tried. I tried some thin slices of Kobe beef set on a Japanese leaf known as Hoba leaf. A type of Magnolia, it, in turn, is sat above some gently smoldering embers and a pool of yellow miso paste loosened with some Mirin. After 15 minutes, the result is difficult to explain, but I will use four words – sweet, tender, marbling and exotic. This subtle and interactive dish feels very authentic Japanese and the ceremony involved adds dimension as well.
I then tried the fresh prawn wrapped in thin slices of Halibut (an oily variety of flatfish) briefly warmed with a blowtorch, topped with a rustic Thai inspired salsa of chili, garlic, lime, lemongrass and fish sauce, then finished with segments of orange. The prawn, very fresh and delicate; the fish, rich and subtle; the salsa, fiery and fragrant; and the orange sweet and cleansing. The textures in this dish play an important role. The freshness of the produce of key importance. An example of complexity meets delicate. Classic Thai flavors are the principle tastes here. Yet, the execution is Japanese. Each mouthful is a journey.
Next up was the Sous Vide pork (36 hours) and beef (12 hours), each in a different curry sauce. It’s hard to imagine something being cooked in a bag for a day and a half. One might expect the meat to be reduced to a mooch. However, as the temperature is low, only 60c, the meat itself stays intact. In fact, it does not really alter at all. It is indeed tender but it still feels like a rib and the tangy curry with tender braised morning glory beneath completed this new school Thai comfort food. The curry sauce here was dominant from a flavor perspective, beautifully balanced, complex and fragrant. Just as a well-constructed curry sauce should be.
I was then offered two desserts. One simply called Blueberry cheesecake. This was deconstructed version and very pretty to look at. Cheesecake puree is piped in small dots along the plate. A few piles of the crumb and some tangy blueberry paint is smeared down the other side. Fresh blueberries are dotted around the plate. The result? Still a blueberry cheesecake but three-dimensional. The individual components are still just those, but when you eat them individually they become more than the sum of their individual parts.
The other dessert was a type of baked Alaska – strawberry sorbet over vanilla sponge, covered liberally with meringue and doused, or rather drenched, with orange liquor. The finished product was akin to a very large toasted marshmallow. I was in no way hungry at this point but found myself reaching for more. Again another “interactive “dish from the Mix kitchen.
There is so much more to the Mix menu than I can explain with a few well-executed dishes, this is merely the tip of the metaphoric iceberg. And their cocktail menu is a whole other chapter. They even advertise “Molecular cocktails”. Mr. Somswasdi has gained my respect for carefully developing an eclectic menu and training a team of staff to convey his creations. I will return to Mix to continue this journey myself, I am curious to see where it will take me next.
Written By Luke, E-Table Asia Dining in Chiang Mai