I am an ardent fan of myriad kinds of Asian cuisines. Thai food is one such gastronomy that I completely relish whenever I have the opportunity to do so. In my opinion, the cuisine’s use of fresh ingredients and spice quotient strikes a chord with the Indian palate. Thus, Sofitel Mumbai BKC in association with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and SO Sofitel Bangkok, is holding ‘Tastes of Thailand’ festival until 5th June, 2016 at its restaurant PONDICHÉRY CAFÉ to cater to Indians’ growing penchant for Thai food.
I was privileged to be part of the opening night of the festival that was inaugurated by Ms. Sirin Surathin - Deputy Consul General and Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty – General Manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC. An enthralling Thai dance performance in the lobby of the hotel set the tone for the rest of the evening. Pondichéry Café has been magnificently done up in beautiful elements symbolic of Thai culture. Chefs Chitsanuphat Dungjampa and Chalermchai Tavornaroonrat have been specifically flown in from SO Sofitel Bangkok to showcase an array of authentic and sumptuous Thai dishes with ingredients they have especially carried with them from Thailand.
The lavish buffet spread at this sprawling restaurant will be comprising of Thai delicacies alongside its regular Indian and Continental fares. The colorful display of the Thai food station lies right at the heart of the restaurant and the aromas wafting from it simply swamp you like some magic potion.
While I savored the entire multi-cuisine buffet at the Pondichéry Café to the fullest, in this review I would mention only the Thai dishes that were part of my dinner. Below is a glimpse of few of the same:
This was a basic vegetarian clear soup entailing huge chunks of cabbage, pokchoy, carrots, tomatoes cooked in a lightly seasoned broth. The use of spices was minimal though the flavor of garlic was the most evident one.
TOM YUM GOONG
This is the popular Thai-style spicy, luscious shrimp soup prepared using coconut milk and laced with onion and Thai chilies (bird eye chili). The flavors were spot on, with heat from the chilies being balanced off beautifully by the creaminess from the coconut milk and sweetness of the shrimps and onions.
Raw papaya was julienned and mixed with carrots and green beans. The dressing of chili tamarind sauce added the much needed acidity and sweetness to the salad. But, it was the crushed Thai red chilies and fish sauce that brought a zing to the salad. While most diners would find this a tad bit spicy, my palate was thoroughly content with the piquancy of the salad.
This was yet another refreshing vegetarian salad served as part of the Thai special spread. Sliced mushrooms were mixed with capsicum and onions. The salad was flavored with copious amounts of garlic and cilantro to make it an interesting nosh.
This was a zesty mixed seafood salad involving fish chunks, shrimps, squid rings mixed with bell peppers, onions and cilantro. The dressing of fish sauce, cilantro and Thai chilies made the salad deliciously spicy.
GANG KIEW WAN PUCK
The highlight of the Thai cuisine are its flavorful, aromatic, creamy curries – red, yellow and green. These curries can be prepared using vegetables or meat of one’s choice. The buffet included the green Thai curry comprising of diced vegetables like carrot, baby corn and broccoli. The curry had a stunning creamy texture and lovely subtle flavor of kaffir lime leaves and galangal. I relished this dish with the fragrant, sticky Thai Jasmine rice.
KOUY TIEW PAD KEE
This was your quintessential stir fried spicy noodles flavored with chili, soy sauce and holy basil. The noodles had a perfect texture while their seasoning was apt. However, in my opinion the vegetables in the noodles were a little undercooked and seemed like they had not absorbed the flavors from the aforementioned ingredients.
PAD PAK RUAM
This was a mixture of diced vegetables that were stir fried. The vegetables had a nice tart flavor and a hint of sweetness.
KRA PAO GAI
This dish is popularly known as Thai basil chicken and derives its flavor from use of chilies, garlic and holy basil used for preparing it. The chicken was moist but overall the dish lacked a bit of seasoning.
The Thai dessert station showcased very simple, refreshing sweet delights and fruits native to Thailand like Rambutan (Ngor), Longan (Lamyai) and Mangosteen (Mongkut):
MANGO WITH STICKY RICE
Mangoes are a popular fruit even in Thailand. Hence, a Thai food spread is incomplete without a mango based dessert. Freshly cut mangoes topped over aromatic sticky rice proved a very stimulating dessert for a hot summer soiree. This sweet delicacy was light and delicious.
PUMPKIN IN SWEET COCONUT MILK
This too was a very humble sweet that involved few ingredients- coconut milk, pumpkin pieces, palm sugar, pandan leaves and had unpretentious flavors. The use of palm sugar and the pumpkin itself had imparted a subtle sweetness to the dessert while the use of pandan leaf made it aromatic.
This was a modest dessert where baby bananas were poached in palm sugar syrup until they had a beautiful caramel colored crust. The appearance of the dish was captivating. However, I guess the sweet is meant to be eaten as soon as it is prepared. Thus, the wait to dig in to the dish after completion of the savory courses left me with chewy textured banana instead of a silken textured dessert.
I had an incredible time tasting the Thai delicacies at Pondichéry Café.
So, do try out the Tastes of Thailand food festival and let me know of your experience.
Till then, HAPPY EATING…
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast