BANGKOK, Nov 5 — Most restaurants are defined by the cuisine they serve — Japanese, Peruvian, Spanish, etc. Some are known for their extensive wine lists. Yet how many are known for their water?
We discover more about water at the appropriately named Water Library, a fine French restaurant located inside Chamchuri Square. Opened in 2009 by Thai wine and water importer Pote Lee, Water Library has a remarkable cylindrical design with floor-to-ceiling windows. The signature feature, naturally, is the towering structure of water bottles from around the world.
The kitchen is headed by German-born and Berlin-trained Chef Mirco Keller; his modern European creations are paired with suggestions of different bottled waters, both still and sparkling. Yes, the friendly servers here double as water sommeliers, which makes for an education whilst perusing their extensive water menu.
According to our water sommelier, in choosing our water, we can look at both its TDS and pH values. TDS (or Total Dissolved Solids) is the amount of minerals and salts — such as magnesium, silica, calcium and potassium — in the water.
A TDS below 800milligram/litre is considered light and goes well with fruits and seafood; above that, and you have a heavier water to pair with meats.
Therefore, the quantity of TDS in our water can accentuate the taste of fruits, spices, cheeses and other foods. Even the pH value comes into play: waters with a pH value below 7 are acidic and suit savoury foods while those with pH above 7 are considered sweet and perfect for desserts.
We begin with a bottle of Voss still water from Aust-Agder, Norway. Made from very pure glacier water, Voss has a medium TDS of 290milligram/litre and a pH of 6.
This makes for a soft, effervescent water that is grand company for our amuse-bouche, an Andalusian gazpacho; elevating rather than overpowering the cold soup of raw blended vegetables, with nuggets of prawn, fresh mango and aromatic rouille.
For our first two courses, which are savoury, we opt for a sparkling Gerolsteiner. Hailing from the Eiffel Mountains in Germany, its high minerality (a TDS of 2,527!) gives it a sharp, salty taste — a good fit for our starter of Périgord foie gras with smoked duck, miso, mango and Aceto Balsamico di Modena.
The naturally carbonated water also pairs well with our hearty main, a wagyu cheeseburger with fries affectionately named MK Version 2.5 after the chef and his constant tweaks to perfect the recipe.
Every sip is a revelation; nothing like mass-produced bottled waters that have been filtered to remove most impurities — and thus, most of their unique flavours.
To complete our meal, we have the apple tarte tatin with vanilla bean ice cream. To complement this classic treat, we have a still water: Santa Vittoria acqua minerale, bottled at the source in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. With a TDS of 169 and pH of 8, it is light and sweet — just like our dessert and our experience dining at the Water Library.
Where does one apply to become a “librarian” here?
Level 2, Chamchuri Square, 317 Phaya Thai Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm; 6pm-10pm