Time flies, but Hotel Rembrandt Bangkok persists, but in a new guise!

Hotel Rembrandt on Sukhumvit Soi 18, has been a very popular and known hotel, like a second home to many Scandinavians, for nearly 30 years

Simply walking in to the open spaced lobby, with the beautiful flower arrangements in front of the “prom stairs”, makes you feel exhilarated. The friendly staff welcomes you with a typical Thai smile.

The hotel is currently going through some big changes. The popular ball room is being expanded with a more spacious stage and can seat almost 200 guests. It has always been a popular room for weddings, big birthday parties, as well as many other celebrations.

Here the IWC (International Women’s Club) and SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) as well as many Chambers of Commerce, have hosted their big events and of course, still do.

We also remember the typical Swedish Pea soup evenings that took place on a Thursday every month for many, many years. These traditional Pea soup evenings, a tradition started by the Swedish church, but ended when the church lost its meeting point on soi 33, however the Rembrandt Hotel thankfully offered a room to continue this tradition.

Hope Fair used to have many vendors putting up their booths in the lobby in front of the ball room at Rembrandt. The hotel has also been hosting exhibitions, presentations and music performances, not to forget some Swedish Midsummer and Crayfish parties.

It doesn’t matter what you have in mind, everything you wish for can be made possible at Rembrandt, the staff will happily help you to customize your event.

Lately some of the suites have been changed into meeting rooms. A few have a terrace where you can enjoy the Bangkok skyline, while sipping on a drink or a cup of coffee during breaktime.

At the “1826 Mixology & Rooftop Bar” you will find the female Mixologist Khun Pil. I had a long talk with her and got fascinated by her story. This young woman, born in Singapore, has an interesting background story and her life has been difficult in many ways, but her way of handling it, impressed me. She has managed, with not much support, to educate herself and has become an independent, smart young woman. She has my full admiration.

Khun Pil has unbelievable strength. I had to ask her the question, what is it that separates a barman/woman from a Mixologist and she replied:

“You have to have ideas, willing to give everything a try, have fantasy, lot of confident, and ability to see what people need and want.”

Khun Pil is a 100% self-made Mixologist. She speaks several languages, among them Mandarin, Cantonese, English and nowadays also Thai, and she has learned them just by listening to people, picking up phrases here and there. Her philosophy is simple: “Be down to earth, and live a simple life”.

She is a Christian and a believer, and I will add, a survivor.

When she told me that she never drinks any alcohol herself, I almost lost my poise. How is it possible to mix cocktails without tasting them? “Well, for me it works,” she says with a big smile.

She first came to Thailand a few times on vacation and fell in love with the country, as most of us have. In 2019, she sent an application for a job at Rembrandt Hotel and received a positive reply and employment. She had a few jobs before in Bangkok, like at the legendary The Q Bar on Sukhumvit soi 11 and at The Havana Social, just to mention a few.

Today she has her own team working for her, or as Khun Pil prefers to say, with her, at Rembrandt. In her team, she has 3 young men, 1 lady, a bartender as well as a waiter. They are trusted by her and they are well aware of what she expects them to do.

Right now, Khun Pil is making changes in the Bar menu, mixing new signature cocktails and helping re-decorating the bar and lounge.

In my eyes, she is a woman with passion as exemplified by her tattoos. She tells me that all her tattoos, and believe me she has many, are a combination of several patterns that she has put together by herself and no other person has the same as she has. I couldn’t help thinking, it must have been quite painful to do this.

For many years, the Indian Restaurant Rang Mahal, has been awarded as one of the best Indian restaurants in Asia. Its name comes from an old village and a prehistoric archeological site from the Kushan-era along the way between Suratgarh and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan.

The restaurant is located on the top floor and has a typical Indian decoration. To dine at Rang Mahal is pure luxury. The view is magnificent and the smell of Indian herbs make you think you are in India. It’s a very popular place for a Weekend brunch.

Not very long ago, the restaurant welcomed a new top Chef, Mr. Amit Kumar. This man also made a deep impression on me. Amit was born in the northern part of India, near Delhi. He comes from a family with 4 children, 2 brothers and 2 sisters. No one in the family has ever worked in the hospitality industry, so he decided to become the first one to go for hospitality and food production.

His father was an electrician at government New Delhi and from him he learned to become a “handy man”. He went for a  interview and was hired. His famly is pure vegetarian and he himself had not even fried an egg when he started his job in a kitchen. He had no idea how a lamb, goat, chicken, pork, seafood etc. should taste. He started from the bottom, learning from the ground.

With his first attempt to make a Russian Salad in his colleague’s production kitchen, the inspector spit out: ” Have you never tasted eggs?” and Amit had to admit, he hadn’t.  He was happily eating Indian vegetarian food, but soon realized he had to learn to eat and also make Continental food. In the beginning he felt unhappy when he had to taste it, but slowly he became more and more used to the Continental food and even started to like it.

He went 1 1/2 years to  college in Faridabad and he got his first job as a Chef in 2007 at the Amanbagh Resort (Rajastan) in northern India. For 5 years there he practiced all kind of cuisines.  He has also spent almost 5 years at The Oberoi hotels & resorts, the world’s best hotel chain due to Chef Amit. The Oberoi Group is indeed a luxury hotel group with its head office in New Delhi, founded back in 1934. Today the hotel group operates 32 luxury hotels.

Amit has gone a long way, starting as a kitchen assistant, eventually got promoted supervisor and today he is an experienced Chef.

He has during these years learned to speak English and he has been to Germany, Munich, promoting Indian food.

Amit won the title “Iron Chef of Thailand” in 2018. He told me the secret of his winning dish and I just couldn’t believe it. He, who never had cooked a turkey in his life, was facing a huge challenge. He laughed when he thought of how he ran out to collect the turkey and he had no idea how he should prepare this huge bird.

In the beginning of the competition, there was a live goat shown to the participants and Amit thought that maybe it meant that the participants would have to slaughter it and create a dish from the goat. That wasn’t  the case, but there were parts of the goat e.g. the brain among the products.

Amit decided to stuff the turkey with a dish called “Bheja fry” using the goat brain. Does it sounds delicious? The judge was of the opinion that it was a terrific idea, as well as very tasty and different. That brought Amit the award.

Shortly before Covid started, Amit returned to India for a while and again he joined iconic hotel  The Oberoi, New Delhi. Where he used to work for Michelin starred Chef Alfred Prasad.

Amit is a man with discipline, wakes up early and goes exercising before starting to work.

He says: “It’s my job to lead the Rang Mahal team and I do it with great passion, creating a friendly working environment, and we are helping each other to grow”.

“I believe that honesty, passion and a teamwork are what make Rang Mahal Restaurant a shining star. The team here certainly helps a lot in making sure that every guest at Rang Mahal enjoys a great dining experience.”

Right now Chef Amit is creating some new tasty signature dishes to add to the menu and for us to looking forward to.

Are you in a mood for a journey to Mexico?

Well, when you must pay a visit to Restaurant Mexicano at Rembrandt. Here you will feel the heat. Tacos, Nachos, Chilli con carne, Tequila etc., it’s all there, just waiting for you.

Put on your sombrero and get ready for a hot night. Also Restaurant Mexicano has recently welcomed a new Chef, Senor Raul Martinez.

Senor Raul was born in Mexico City and went to school there, but didn’t like going to school at all.

“If you don’t like school son, get yourself a job” his mum said. Raul had no intention to become a Chef, but as a late teenager he followed his mum’s advice and found a job, he started working as a dishwasher. He liked the environment and he was following his chef in the Cantina, seeing him serving very basic, traditional food and he got inspired.

After some time, Raul decided to go back to school, choosing a culinary school. When he studied, he was also working and one day, he was receiving a scholarship to Monaco. In Monte Carlo, he started to work at The Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. Here Chef Marcel Ravin became his mentor and role model. Chef Marcel was born in Martinique and arrived in France at an age of 20. He began his career in Alsace before working in several Michelin starred restaurants. Since 2005, he has been the Chef at prestigious Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel in Monaco.

Here Raul started to really discover the Mediterranean food and style and got familiar with the Cordon Bleu School.

Chef Raul is a big fan of minimalistic dishes; “Life should be simple as well as dishes, but good,” seems to be one of his mottos.

Chef Raul has a talent for meat dishes. He loves to prepare a Beef Wellington and Ribs with different sauces. He also really enjoys making Ceviche made of fish and /or seafood. These dishes are going to become part of the new menu he is creating for Mexicano right now.

One of my favorite questions to a Chef is; If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to invite for dinner, who would this person be, what would you cook and where would this specific dinner take place?

Senor Raul hesitaded a while before answering, and then said; “It must be a person who knows about food and enjoys food. I’d like to invite M. Paul Bocuse.”

Paul Bocuse was a French Chef based in Lyon. He passed away in 2018. He first wore an apron at the age of 16, in the middle of World War Two. His first masters included an important woman, Mme. Eugenie Brazier, called “La mere Brazier”, known to be the mother of modern French cuisine. She was  the very first Chef who became 3 Michelin stars in 2 restaurants at the same time. After Mme. Brazier, followed several high ranked Chefs.

In 1961 Chef Paul Bocuse received the title “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” and the same year he received his first Michelin star. Star after star followed and no other restaurant except Restaurant Collonges-au Mont-d’Orin, or simple Bocuse, in the world has had 3 Michelin stars for 52 years. M. Paul Bocuse later on also received the title “Chef of the Century” from the Culinary Institute of America, just to mention a few awards.

Let us agree that Senor Raul Martinez has chosen a most challenging guest to invite and cook for. Chef Raul would serve his guest a dish from Oaxaca, south west Mexico, an area that has the most special cuisine according to Senor Raul.

You see, without walking many steps, you can for a while, be part of India, Mexico,  and Thailand, all countries represented under one roof and always ready to welcome you. The Red Pepper is currently serving you breakfast and you can also choose to have a Thai dish in your room. Mexicano has moved to the 4th floor where previously the, Italian restaurant Da Vinci was located, by the poolside.

If you ask me, I would start with a special mixed cocktail in the 1826 Mixologi & Rooftop Bar. and wait to see, which cuisine I would prefer. You can’t go wrong wherever you choose to go.

Stay tuned for  Rembrandt’s 30th anniversary June the 30th 2023.

Rembrandt says WELCOME!

About Agneta de Bekassy

Author at ScandAsia and blogger on other websites as well. Swedish influencer in Bangkok

View all posts by Agneta de Bekassy

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