Tapas, Talk and More

Posted on August 22, 2014

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Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok’s newest eatery encourages conversations over small bites of tapas amidst a sleek, laid-back ambience. By Reena Karim

I breezed through the lobby, past fictionalised residents Jay and Daisy and their adorable pup Marlee and into the lap of Hilton’s swanky new eatery, Mondo. Sonam Tatur, the F&B executive, and I exchanged pleasantries, got settled on a spacious couch and dived right into the passport-style menu.

I have always been a huge fan of tapas, especially during the hotter days when the grease from the khao phat isn’t appetising anymore. The whole concept behind tapas dining, when it’s done right, is to enjoy conversations with friends over simple food that it is supposed to be quick, inventive, fun, and, not to mention, to be shared.

The hotel’s trendy and chic Italian-American decor is an ode to New York’s 1920s prohibition era. Mondo shares a bit of this ethos with black and white New York cityscape painted murals and heavyduty industrial lamps, but lightens the grunge with a brightly-lit ceiling in pastel shades. The upscale, sleek decor and laid-back ambience of Mondo can very well be mistaken for an extension of the lobby rather than a tapas restaurant at a five-star hotel. However, it is precisely its laid-back aspect that adds the va va voom to this dining space. Stacks of suitcases, which I am informed belongs to Jay, and quirky sculpted pieces add a sense of eclecticism. High tables and colourful couches are not the only places to enjoy your meals; those willing to battle the heat can also choose to dine in the semioutdoor space.

Mondo calls itself a neighbourhood salumeria—based on the Italian concept of a trattoria or a small neighbourhood shop where one can find specialty cured meats and other delicacies. On the menu, we see combinations of Italy’s rustic charm with influences from the West and the far East. The kitchen spins out a diverse range of small plates and shared antipasti that make for an ideal brunch and light dinners.

The Food

Mondo’s menu serves up a mix of warm and cold bite-sized dishes, a fusion of East meets West, classics such as burgers and sandwiches and a range of sausages and cold cuts such as chorizo cular ibèrico, cured speck ham, pistachio bologna, and aged pork cheek.

Initially, we decided to go in order and start out with the warm and cold tidbits and so on, but somewhere down the line we got so caught up with our conversation that we lost track and just enjoyed the dishes that came our way. Oven-baked oysters (B80) were the first to arrive. The big oyster lay on a bed of sea salt and came topped with a spicy, creamy, and slightly bitter matsuhisa dressing that left a strong impact on our palates. Wagyu beef wrapped around green asparagus (B200) was next. The smokyness of the beef, coupled with spicy teriyaki sauce and herby mix of shredded Japanese pink ginger, carrot and beet shreds, combined refreshing and tangy flavours.

We also tried crispy-fried whole prawn (B200), which was a far cry from any of the greasy tempuras I have tried before. It came topped with a tart wasabi aioli. To complete the salumeria experience we just had to try one of the many combinations of cheese and cold cut platters they serve here. Ours came with cubes of Pecorina sheep’s milk cheese, parma harm, mustard-soaked baby fruits, salted crackers, and sliced olives on a wooden platter (B450).

Mondo also does a high tea special (B480) that runs every day from 11am to 6pm and we tried that as well. The elaborate platter comes with a mix of savoury and sweet treats such as homemade scones (with unlimited refills) served with jam and mascarpone cheese, a salmon or grilled chicken wrap, fresh fruit tart, fried potato cutlet stuffed with Spanish ham, and assorted berries, all accompanied by a choice of Ronnefeldt tea or Illy coffee and a glass of fruit punch.

The Drinks

The beverage menu has an extensive list of offerings that cover everything one might imagine. From gin (B360-380) to scotch, bourbon, Japanese, Canadian and Irish whiskies (B250-2,400) and classic cocktails such Gin Fizz (B320) and Manhattan (B420) to some of their own signature concoctions like the Al Capone’s Smoky Sour (B380).

Featured in Masala Lite, June 2014

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Posted in: Dining