Thursday, September 16, 2021

Exotic royal Thai cuisine at Thara Thong

Jeepney Jinggoy

AUTHENTIC, the best description of any local cuisine. With the essential ingredients within reach coupled with “heritage recipes” passed from one generation to the next, the tandem is unbeatable.

In Thailand, a single dish is prepared with a medley of spices. It works together to form one distinctive taste, just like voices in a choir singing in harmony to deliver a song. Take the Tom Yum Soup as an example. It takes a lot of ingredients to create it. The soup’s distinct flavor will linger long after you have enjoyed it. Memory retains the flavor, and reading or hearing its name, the taste is signaled back to the palate.

On my regular visits to Bangkok, I feast on my favorites—the Pad Thai and the Kao Niew Ma Muang (sticky rice with mango). I eat on the streets or a fancy restaurant.

Recently, I got to dine in Thara Thong, Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers’ Thai restaurant. Here, I had a new adventure in the local cuisine. A twist in my usual feasting—and I loved it at every bite.

Thara Thong translates to “River of Gold,” possibly referring to the Thailand’s chief river, the Chao Phraya. What can we expect from this “royal address”?

The dining place is set in a richly decorated Thai teakwood pavilion with a view of the famed waterway. It can accommodate 105, with 35 al fresco seats for a more romantic vibe.

Indoors, the local dining experience is extended thru the “sit on the floor” set-up of low tables on elevated platforms. But comfort is still priority for non-Thai diners, which makes up the majority of its clientele. The area under the table is hollow, where guests can slip their legs into and assume a normal seated position.

Thara Thong’s offering is described as “exquisite royal Thai cuisine” by way of its preparation and service— done with utmost care and creativity, a style befitting of the Royal Court.

Entertainment is always integral part of any “royal banquet.” Here, the exotic cuisine is enjoyed with Thai classical music played live alternating with traditional dance performances.

And speaking of royal banquet, my host made sure I had one. Ten dishes were served, which includes the house specialties. Luck was on my side, half of it were my favorites.

The trio of starters was served. I loved their take on the Yum Som-O Goong (Spicy pomelo salad with shrimp and coconut flake, THB 420), the coconut flakes added texture and a sweet, buttery flavor that contrasted the sweet, tangy taste of the pomelo; Satay Gai (Traditional Thai chicken satay served with peanut sauce, THB 480), is one of my all-time favorites; and a new dish that excited me, the Mieng Kam (Combination of grated coconut, lime cube, shallot, ginger, dried shrimp and crispy peanut wrapped in Cha-Plu leaves, THB 290), a Thai take on make-your-own roll.

For the soup course, we had the house specialty— Tom Yum Goong Mae Nam (Traditional spicy soup with river prawns, lime juice, chili flavored and lemongrass, THB 420). It was delicious, as expected.

Four main courses were served, two of were on highly recommended list (and yes, they were delectable): Salmon Sauce Takrai (Salmon with lemongrass sauce, THB 390) and the Aouk Ped Rom Kwan Rard Sauce Kra Prow (Fried smoked duck breast with hot basil and hot chili. THB 450).

The Yum Woon Sen Bo-Lan (Spicy vermicelli salad with minced pork and shrimps. THB 320) was a treat! It was light and flavorful.

What truly surprised me was the Rib Eye Wagyu Yang Jim Jaew (Grilled Rib Eye Wagyu 240 days grain-fed Marble 4 with Tamarind dressing served with steamed sticky rice. THB 1,200). I have never tried anything like this before—and I fell in love with it. The fact that I consumed most of it was proof enough. Tender, toothsome with a hint of tamarind sweetness. I could easily finish a second serving myself.

But I was told to leave room for dessert. I knew what was coming, a favorite, the Kao Niew Ma Muang (Fresh mango with fragrant glutinous rice. THB 280). The Cheesecake Cha Thai (Thai Tea Cheesecake. THB 250) was surprisingly delightful as well. I liked that it sweetened lightly, which was quite unusual for a Thai dessert.

Verdict: I will return for the Rib Eye Wagyu Yang Jim Jaew and the Mieng Kam.

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