We at Taste of Thailand are always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to enjoy the incredible flavors of Thai food, so when we heard about the soft-opening of Wang Hinghoi or Palace of the Fireflies, we jumped at the chance to see what it was all about!
Temporarily located in a completely unassuming spot, it is nestled between the Airport link tracks, Petchburi road and the hot nightlife area, RCA. An odd location, but perfect in that it makes use of a quiet, underused piece of land for this unique experience to unfold.
Wang Hinghoi was designed around the idea that guests would dine amongst the fireflies. Everything from the site, to the space, to the food and the experience are designed around the concept of the four elements: : earth, air, fire and water.
Upon arrival, you are greeted by a long walkway leading you to the carefully designed grand entrance to sweep you outside the city and into a quiet forest environment. The walls are crafted of multiple layers of earth from different regions of Thailand, creating a colorful backdrop for the Wang Hinghoi logo, which is a combination of a firefly and a spoon.
The restaurant is meant to simulate being inside a forest, including sights, sounds and smells (yes, smells) even utilizing aromatherapy to create the smell of an earthy, rain soaked forest.
The interior is a mostly glassed-in, dark space allowing just enough light for diners to be able to see their food, keeping the rest of the space dimly lit. Outside, environments are created to help fireflies thrive. Some true fireflies are visible in the darker areas of the space, while special lighting enhances the style of flickering bugs outside.
The meal itself is a five-course set menu that will change through the 4 elements as time goes on(at a slightly pricey 2,400 THB/person) of deconstructed Thai dishes. The current set menu is of the Earth there and has a mix of dishes, some authentic, others have more of a western feel. They source some of the produce directly from a garden grown on site or from organic farms in Suan Peung, Ratchaburi. Two of the stars were the Miang Dok Bua, a delicate spicy shrimp paste in a beautiful lotus petal, and the crispy duck confit, a take on the favorite Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (Duck Curry).
The star of the evening (besides the fireflies and the space) was clearly the Tom Yang Goong. A resounding favorite for most, this dish was truly uniquely presented in a modern twist. The flavors were all there, had a strong Thai limey zest, while providing a thick, almost tomato-soup consistency which was poured over a large prawn and mushrooms.
Drinks were just as interesting, focusing on Thai flavors melded with western classics. Jasmine flowers adorned some, emitting a perfumed essence, while the the Farmer’s Delight (pictured below) is Sangsom infused with Thai spices, egg white and a sea salt/chili powder rim for a extra spicy punch.
Overall it was a lovely evening of quiet dining allowing you to focus on having an intimate conversation and consideration to the particulars of what you were eating. The menu will change seasonally, based on the four elements, currently starting with ‘earth.’ The kicker? It’s only open for 18 months, the lifespan of a firefly. So, if you are up for an interesting take on Thai food in a creative atmosphere, give it a try before it’s gone. Just another experience that makes Bangkok all the more interesting!