Blue Elephant – The legend continues

Peter Morrell reports on the blessing by Buddhist Monks of the new restaurant location

Blue Elephant, London’s most iconic Thai restaurant – and soon to be cookery school – has now relocated from Fulham Road to its stunning new riverside home on Imperial Wharf.
 
I was at the restaurant on Friday 11th May when the new Blue Elephant welcomed a very special group of visitors. The monks from the Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon, the first Thai Buddhist temple to be built in the UK, arrived to perform a beautiful traditional blessing ceremony.
 
The colourful and vivid occasion provided a rare opportunity to witness a traditional Buddhist rite that encourages good fortune and prosperity for the new building and its inhabitants. The blessing, which was both calming and uplifting, involved a rhythmic chant by the monks followed by gifts of food to them. The gifts included a northern Thai sausage, sodsai, a coconut pudding and two fruits, a rose apple and a rambutan presented in a pinto, a stacked food carrier.
 
The monks performed a blessing of both the restaurant and the Suphannahong, the magnificent replica of the famous Royal Barge of Thailand which now takes pride of place in the restaurant’s Blue Bar. With its figurehead fashioned in the shape of a swan and intricately carved and gilded hull, it has been painstakingly created out of a single trunk of teak by Thai master craftsmen.

In the new location no expense has been spared in creating a comfortable and relaxing dining space which is a cross between a traditional Thai home and a royal palace. Hardwood stairs, carved screens and soft furnishing are the backdrop for the Suphannahong and the many other Thai artifacts that decorate the restaurant.

On arriving at the ceremony we had been welcomed with a traditional steamed bun, sala pao and after the blessing we enjoyed a lunch of delicious Thai appetizers and dishes, one of the stand-outs being khao soi, chicken with two types of noodle. Tasting the food it is easy to understand why the new Blue Elephant has quickly become so popular with both customers and food critics.

The superb new menu has been created by the renowned Thai chef Nooror Somany Steppe, the award-winning founder of the Blue Elephant group, who has been regarded as the Culinary Ambassador of Thai Cuisine since 1980.

Cuisine, like language and culture, is constantly evolving and the menu that Nooror has put together is a clever mix of traditional Thai food, dishes of the present day and tastes from the Thai kitchen of the future.  For example one item on the kitchen of tomorrow menu is Gloucester Old Spot spare ribs, a marrying of English heritage with Thai modernity.

I met Nooror Somany Steppe at the ceremony, she is absolutely charming and passionate about delivering the ultimate Thai food experience to her diners. Noroor kindly gave me a tip for the AMG ‘Top Tips from Top Chefs’ feature, to read it click here…

The stand alone cookery school on the first floor is due to open later this year. Run along the same lines as Blue Elephant’s very successful schools in Bangkok and Phuket, this facility will offer students a fascinating introduction to the wonders of Thai cuisine.

If you want to enjoy the Blue Elephant experience but don’t live in London then look out for the wide range of Blue Elephant authentic Thai curry pastes, sauces and spices. I recently experimented with a yellow curry paste in a kedgeree and it added a deliciously delicate fragrance to the meal.

If you do want to experience genuine Thai hospitality and cuisine then pay the Blue Elephant a visit in their new home.
 
Blue Elephant
The Boulevard
Imperial Wharf,
Townmead Road
London, SW6 2UB

www.blueelephant.com/london

To read about the Blue Elephant’s sister restaurant La Porte des Indes click here…

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