There’s something about Chinese food in foreign countries that makes it much more delicious than the one at home. First of all, after a couple of meals consisting mostly of cold ham and tough bread, we Thais will crane our necks out for something hot and spicy, something more flavoursome. Most of the times, thanks to its availability, Chinese restaurants always come to a rescue. A bowl of sweet and sour soup, wonton noodle soup or even a plate of steamed rice with a simple stir-fry can miraculously restore our spirit, enabling us to go ahead in whatever journey we are making in any part of the world.
In London, there’s a famous little place called ‘Four Seasons’ in Bayswater area where Chinese restaurants outnumber anything else. Once you get off the tube, you’ll notice the change of scene with more Asian passersby in the area. For me, all the places there are pretty much the same. But for most Thais, they vow on Four Seasons. The place has become a semi-shrine for duck lovers, but there’re still quite a debate which duck is the more famous, the ‘it’ duck. The typical roasted duck chopped to serve with sweet and salty brown gravy? Or the aromatic duck deep-fried and shredded that is served with flour pancakes, onions and cucumber and thick gooey sweet brown sauce?
As you might have known, the place has become so famous that a group of Thai businessmen brought the chain over to Bangkok not too long ago. The result was a big success and now we have a couple of branches of Four Seasons here in Bangkok. One at Siam Paragon, one on Thonglor and the one we went to at the suburb Mega Bangna.
Four Seasons at Mega Bangna has two stories, and a couple of dining tables outside on the balcony of each floor which makes it a good place to dine alfresco when the weather was nice and cool during last few weeks. The sumptuous Chinese-style wooden tables and chairs and faux medicine cabinets that run along the walls warm up the place, making the mood and feel luxurious yet friendly and homey. The price tags are not too hefty either, but certainly this is not a cheap place to eat. We ordered half an aromatic duck, pictured above, and it was served crispy and aromatic and shredded right at our table. A good way to start a meal. The pancakes, obviously microwaved from pre-made, are ok, nothing extraordinary, and the sauce up to a good standard of balanced tastes, sweet, salty a bit tangy and well-rounded aromatic.
We also ordered prawns dumplings in tangy chili sauce which turned out to be my favorite. The tender dumplings were fresh and juicy and the mild tastiness of the sauce made it enough a comfort dish. I liked it so much that when we went back there again just last week, I also ordered this bowl, plus a bowl of noodle with roasted duck – the two things that made enough a hearty meal on my busy day.
Here’s their famous roasted duck which looks exactly like any other roasted duck readily available in Bangkok. However, the devil is in the details, for the duck here, as I found, was very tender and aromatic. Its thick skin is crisp on the outside, yet with a good layer of the luxurious fat underneath. I think the size of the duck does matter, for the meat is thick and fulfilling. Also, the duck’s wholesome taste – its uniquely sweetness with underlying aromas of secret spices – is downright delicious. It is worth every penny we paid. I think half a duck is about Bt800++.
If you come here by yourself, they also serve a smaller portion that is good for two. Or you can order noodle or rice with a single portion of the meat, too.
Above is their stir-fried egg noodle (mee sua) with bean sprouts which is great and scrumptious, showcasing the wok-skill of the chef. This may not be the best stir-fried noodle I had, but it is good and crunchy and big enough to share if you order a lot of other dishes like we did.
Here’s their scallops which is another famous dish from their original place in Bayswater. The scallops sourced in Thailand are not as fleshy and thick as the ones in the UK, and the asparagus is not our native plant. However, they made up those shortcomings with the bolder tastes. This is quite a spicy dish, scallops well-cooked, asparagus crispy and fresh. A good break from those milder combinations of the roasted meats and all.
Our last dish was this baby calamari with chilies and garlic, Cantonese style. They slightly deep-fried the battered squid and flash-fried them with the mixture of spicy garlic and fresh chilies, chopped up and crispy prepared along with spring onions and red peppers. Although there’s nothing extraordinary about this dish, it made a good munch all the same.
All in all, Four Seasons is a decent place to go if you like the crispy aromatic duck or roasted duck. Their other dishes were also good and their cooking, from our visit twice, are regular. We would go back there whenever in the mood for a good Chinese meal. Expect to pay about Bt800-Bt1,000 per person.