Embarking on a culinary adventure that breaks multiple taste barriers, chef duo, Duangporn Songvisava and Dylan Jones jointly known as Bo.Lan, are bringing their flavour-packed magic to Dubai with their newest restaurant, DuangDy. You may know them from Michelin-starred Bo.lan in Bangkok, and now, they’re about to spice up the One&Only One Za’abeel’s food scene at The Link.
DuangDy is the place to be for Thai food lovers who are looking for something that’s anything but ordinary. Just like their hit hotspot Bo.lan, DuangDy is all about keeping it green and clean. Forget the processed ingredients, here the two chefs are using the likes of hand-pressed coconut milk and homemade curry paste for their dishes. Plus, they are sourcing from local UAE farmers and producers to make sure every bite is a win for sustainable gastronomy.
The Ethicalist spoke with the duo before the launch of this hotly anticipated venue.
TE: Sustainability is a big topic in the food industry. How do you bring sustainable practices into your cooking?
Bo.Lan: Sustainability is the core of our kitchen operations, starting with sourcing our ingredients. While we don’t claim to be fully organic, we prioritise choosing organic, sustainable and ethically produced foods. We emphasise working with local farmers committed to environmental protection and we’re dedicated to supporting local fishermen who protect coastlines, especially those with crucial Mangrove ecosystems that play a role in carbon absorption.
Beyond sourcing, sustainability is our key consideration for all aspects of the restaurant operation. We prioritise minimal environmental impact. Examples of our efforts include using our leftover citrus to make our in-house craft cola or turning our used cooking oil into soap. Additionally, we continually welcome new ways to upcycle leftover food and waste that will positively impact the environment. It is challenging, particularly in an industry that demands perfection; however, we navigate this with a focus on being responsibility.
As true believers in sustainability, we aspire to be recognised as advocates in the field and hope to inspire the people in Dubai to embrace similar ethical considerations. Building relationships and supporting local farmers in the region is a crucial part of our vision to foster sustainability in the community.
TE: You’ve travelled extensively and interacted with local farmers and artisans. How have these experiences shaped your menu at the forthcoming Duangdy?
Our travels and time with local farmers and artisans have taught us a lot. Learning from these experiences made us rethink what we thought we knew about ingredients. It’s not just about what they make but also how they make it, and this has inspired the new menu and dishes. Our travels have pushed us to explore the possibilities of using local, organic produce wherever we go in creative ways. The Duangdy menu embraces this idea, with each dish made with respect for where the ingredients come from and how they are produced. The inspiration for the dishes not only comes from the ingredients but also from the connections with the producers themselves. This approach to creating the menu ensures a great dining experience and shares stories of the diverse places and cultures we have encountered.
TE: As a chef duo, how do you balance each other’s strengths and ideas when creating a new dish or menu?
In our chef duo, learning how to deal with each other has been a journey for us, and while it presented challenges initially, over time, we have developed a deep understanding of each other.
Our partnership benefits from having two heads, each with a strong culinary background and extensive experience, which makes for a powerful collaboration. As a married couple, our relationship extends beyond the professional realm, encompassing work and personal dynamics. We recognise that each of us brings distinct strengths to the table and that’s a driving force behind our achievement in the culinary field.
TE: What’s one ingredient you couldn’t live without and why?
Chilli! It’s the core of Thai cuisine and always adds a distinct charm to Thai food. Its versatility is a key factor, as it is used in various ways to elevate the taste and flavours of Thai dishes. When thinking of Thai cuisine, spice and heat immediately come to mind, and much of this comes from chilli. Besides its culinary significance, chilli also brings valuable health benefits, being rich in Vitamin C, promoting immunity and improving digestion.
TE: With the growing interest in plant-based diets, how do you incorporate vegan options into your traditionally Thai menus?
We have always had a plant-based menu in Bangkok, and it has always been a priority for us. Crafting a plant-based menu, however, presents challenges, particularly in capturing the true essence of Thai cuisine, so we have dedicated ourselves to finding the best alternatives to preserve the natural flavours of Thai food in our vegetarian dishes.
At DuangDy, we are committed to providing a plant-based menu, offering vegan and vegetarian options. This aligns with our values and recognises the growing demand for diverse and inclusive culinary choices catering to various dietary preferences and requirements.
TE: Can you tell us about a plant-based dish that’s particularly special to you or your restaurant?
Our ‘Lon’ or coconut Relish is a particular Thai dish that brings a unique and diverse taste to your meal. Relishes are found in every region you visit in Thailand but always differ based on what’s locally available, however it’s our opinion that relishes play an essential part in any Thai meal, made with lots of different fruits and veggies that you can enjoy with rice, adding texture and flavour to your dining experience.
Our ‘lon’ of yellow beans is a tasty mix of coconut cream and yellow beans flavoured with lemongrass, chilli, ginger, and white pepper. This dish combines the goodness of raw and cooked vegetables and fruits, capturing the essence of Thai cuisine. At DuangDy, we’re excited to have the Lon on our menu as part of our commitment to offering a diverse and inclusive selection, providing a delicious choice for vegans and anyone looking for a unique Thai culinary adventure.
Duangdy by Bo.Lan is open now at the One & Only One Za’abeel, Dubai. Visit the website here
Stir fried Long Aubergine
2 Long green aubergines
2 tbs vegetable oil
3 cleaned coriander roots
1 tbs Thai garlic unpeeled
1 tbs ginger, peeled
2 birds eye chillies
1 tbs fermented soybean paste
1/3 cup vegetable stock or water
Soy sauce to taste
A pinch of unpolished castor sugar
A pinch of white pepper
1 cup picked Thai basil
Roll cut the aubergines into fork-and-spoon size pieces. Soak in slightly salted water for 5 mins
Whilst you prepare everything.
Meanwhile in a mortar and pestle, make a coarse paste of cleaned coriander roots, garlic and ginger. Finally add the chillies and bruise.
Remove the aubergines from the salted water.
In a hot and dry wok with the aubergines, add a small amount of oil and fry the paste until golden brown.
Add fermented soybean paste and stir fry gently until they become fragrant. Loosen with small amount of vegetable stock. Season with soy sauce, sugar, and white pepper. Fry until the stock is incorporated and the aubergines are completely cooked.
Finish with a generous handful of picked Thai basil and stir fry briefly until the basil wilts.
It should be smoky, salty and slightly sweet and fragrant of white pepper with a fragance of anise seed from the Thai basil.