Juhu is the latest. Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Tokyo, Manila, London and now Mumbai. Mango Tree put down it’s roots in Hotel Horizon, in March this year. As a rule, I’m wary of chain restaurants. So did a thorough and systematic check out over two meals spread over three months.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
Enter through Pali Bhavan, walk through a dimly lit narrow curtained archway and enter a totally different world. Sexily glamorous space. Mood lighting, pendant lamps (inspired by ngob, Thai farmers’ palm leaf and bamboo hats), indoor palm and plantain trees, masterful orchestration of vibrant colour and design by the brilliant Ashiesh Shah in this intimate 40 seater space charms.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
It’s a mystery. Why does Mumbai have such few Thai restaurants? And this inspite of the fact that we (most of us atleast) get high on Thai (food ofcourse and massages too). So at the end of last year when Nariman Point started bristling with the sweet heat of Thailand and Izaya opened it was time to rejoice.
Read my full review on whatshot.in
Yoga and Thai salad? What does our very own yogic tree pose (Vrikshansana) have in common with the my most favorite spicy, sweet, sour Thai “Som Tam” (raw papaya salad)? I’m getting a taste of both inside a stunningly beautiful restaurant (Yes! You read that right). That’s only for starters, not only did I get the most authentic and delicious recipe for “Som tam” , the correct way to do the Vrikashana, but also learnt more about rejuvenation and the deep and abiding connection between food and health. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years and 52 episodes of a TV show on Health) but the “Asaya” experience here, in the stunningly beautiful Rosewood, Phuket is incomparable. It’s a hands on specially curated unique concept. It is rooted in self-discovery. Along with it Im feasting on Rosewood’s “Sense of Place” philosophy and delicious food too. And getting re-energised too!
SOM TAM AND THEN SOME
Ive dined at the finest Thai restaurants of the world (including Michelin starred ones) but none comes close to the experience here at Ta khai which sprawls under ancient trees beside the shimmering Emerald bay . Here aunty Yai and uncle Nun, the most lovable accomplished chef couple cook to authentic recipes..
And they cook here in this alfresco restaurant with it’s
open kitchens and live cooking stations. Ta Khai, which means “fishing net” has not only the most beautiful setting under trees bust also the most authentic food that ricochets in a myriad flavors and textures on my palate.A kitchen-to-table herb and vegetable garden and live fish pond adds to the magic. Many an authentic Thai dish such as Poh Pia Sod (fresh Phuket spring rolls) to KhanomTuay (steamed pandanus and coconut milk custard). They are generous enough to share the authentic vegan version of the Som tam and Yam som tam (Pomelo salad) too.
Som Tam Vegan
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40ml Lime juice
60gr long bean
40gr palm sugar
(Dressing )Mixed sugar ,lime and salt well in the mixing bowl
Pound chili and garlic in the mortar then put tomatoes and long bean and pound again
Add papaya ,dressing and peanut and mixed well
Yam Som O
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40gr White sugar
30gr Roasted grated coconut
20gr Deep fried shallot (Sliced)
30ml Coconut Cream
2gr Chilli powder
50gr Shallot sliced
5gr Coriander leave
10gr Birds chili sliced
4gr Deep fried dried chilli
30gr Tamarind juice
50gr Cashew nut
Shred the Pomelo and set aside
Place the lemon juice,salt,Chilli powder and sugar in a bowl,Mix well
Add thegrated coconut,peanuts, cashew nut and coconut cream.Continue to stir
Add the Pomelo and toss
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fried shallots
HEALTH & FOOD
The knowledgable resident wellness practitioner, holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey has his own reason for making me eat “Som Tam”. This is the first time that I learn what food helps me when I travel a lot. “Sweet and spicy food will keep you grounded” explains Steve Harvey. This is just the beginning of my self-discovery journey. It truly is very exciting. And eye-opening. I experience their first Asaya, an innovative concept in holistic and integrative wellness journeys. It begins at Asaya’s beautiful “Wellness Atelier” with a consult with Steve Harvey. Here, the garden’s red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm,murraya koenigii (Thai curry leaf) and pandanusingredients are crushed and blended into individual recipes for use in customized scrubs, wraps, masks and herbal compresses. The fresh Thai healing herbs are also incorporated into powerful aromatic oils used in Asaya Atelier Body Path rituals of therapeutic massages that give me deep relaxation, energy, mental clarity and relaxation. And then energy rebalancing with Himalayan singing bowls ritual follows.
Not only is my energy being rebalanced through food and therapies but even the environmentally sensitive architectural style that blends organically with the natural surroundings soothes. Through it all Im rejuvenating. And celebrating!
Please take a look at the photograph: the knowledgable holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey is flanked by two chefs in Phuket’s most amazing Takhai, Thai restaurant by the shimmering waters of Emerald bay. The husband wife chef team are making pomelo salad. And there’s a reason why they’re specially making this delicious sweet, spicy salad for me. This is the first time that I learn what food helps me when I travel a lot. “Sweet and spicy food will keep you grounded” explains Steve Harvey. This is just the beginning of my self-discovery journey. It truly is very exciting. And eye-opening. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years) but the “Asaya” experience here, a hands on specially curated unique concept is truly unique. It is rooted in self-discovery. I’m not only experiencing alternative therapies, (singing bowls ritual) learning “Darnaveda” meditation but doing so in magnificently natural spaces. And feasting on Rosewood’s “Sense of Place” philosophy and delicious food too.
Is this real? Or is it a dream sequence? Im on my way to Bangkok’s finest Thai restaurant. Time is standing still as I gently glide down the gleaming “River of Kings”. We do so in a beautiful wooden-carved long tail boat. At the other end of the bank an exquisite restaurant and authentic Thai food await me. It is here that I meet the brilliant chef Uemporn Yuayaipong. Having trained in Saraburi Culinary school, she not only worked in prestigious restaurants and hotels in Macao, Maldives. Canada and Washington but also did many a Thai promotion in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, LA and many other cities. The charming Karn Puntuhong, a knowledgable foodie herself helps me by translating the chef’s explanations into English. They offer hands on, worth attending classes in Thai food. And through it all I go through some delicious learning.
WHAT IS THAI FOOD?
Im on a perpetual high on Thai! But what exactly is Thai food? It’s a trifle complicated. For, just like the world considers pizza and pasta to be quintessential Italian food (when actually they are the dishes of the southern region of Campania) and tandoori chicken and naan are perceived as Indian food (when they really belong to Punjab), similarly, much of what we wolf down as Thai food comes from the country’s central region, the area in and around Bangkok. Every region here has its own signature dishes. The food of the rugged, colder and mountainous North (watered by plenty of rivers) are distinct from those of the South. Steamed glutinous rice, local sausages (sai ua, and nham), steamed meat, roasted pork, pork resin, fried pork, fried chick- en and vegetables are some of the Northern staples. The pre- dominant taste is salty, almost to the exclusion of the sweet and sour. The influence of neighbouring Burma is strongly evident.
THAI FOOD & ENGLISH LITERATURE
It is here, that two of my passions come together in a sacred union…Thai food and English literature. And that too in the cacophonic, overcrowded, fascinating, exhausting Bangkok. Right there in this tumultuous city, there is a space which is not just stunninglybeautiful and gracious but also a cocoon of comfort. Since over 140 years, this gorgeous Mandarin Oriental hotel has retained it’s essentially, stylishly Thai soul. I have been going back again and again past many decades and each time fall even more in love with it. Helmed by the dynamic Amanda Hyndman, it continues to breathe colonial charm and high end luxury. It is here that my most favorite authors, Somerset Maugham and Noël Coward regularly stayed. Suites, where they stayed areeloquent with memory and luxury . Once again, time stands still amid luscious silks and carved teak. I trip out on many of the dining options. I enjoy the classic British High tea, served in the Author’s Lounge (named after the many famous writers who have stayed at the hotel) as much as the Chinese and French specialty restaurants.But it’s the traditional Thai with it’s tangy sweet-and-sour flavors that ricochets on my taste buds, that I always make it a point to feast on. It’s the versatile palette of Thai dips that dazzle. I request the chef for the recipes. Here they are…
M.O. THAI DIPS
Versatile dips. Can sparkle your starters and salads and mains. Choice is yours.
NAAM PRIG OONG
Ingredients; for 2
6pc dried big red chili, seedless and soaked /100 gr hard tofu and chopped in small piece / 250g cherry tomato cut in half / 3g salt / 15g light soya sauce / 15g palm sugar
1tsp coriander root, chopped / 1/2tsp galangal, chopped / 1/4cup cooking oil / 10g lime juice.
Pound dried red chili in the mortar or blander and add galangal and coriander root pound until they are mixing well then sit a side.
Heat a pan and add cooking oil brings the chili in the oil and stir until getting smell good.
And then add cherry tomato, salt, light soy sauce, palm sugar and lime juice, slowly cooked them and add tofu cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove and put in a serving cup. Then serve with fresh vegetables (Chinese cabbage, string bean, lettuce, cucumber etc.)
NAAM JIM A-JAD
Sweet chili dips
500gr white sugar / 312gr white vinegar / 23gr salt / 200gr Thai big red chili de- seed and blend it.
-mix all ingredients together in the pot and heat them in medium heat, after they are boiled, turn heat to low and continue until color becomes light yellow.
-add chili in and heat in 5 minutes.
100gr sweet chili dips / 76gr (1cup) cucumber, sliced / 20gr (¼ cup) ground peanut /
20gr big red chillies, cut into rings / Some coriander leaves.
Combine all ingredients together and serve.
230gr grilled chilis and de-skin / 8gr grilled bird’s eye chili / 40gr light soya sauce /
40gr lime juice / 230gr grilled long eggplant, de-skinned / 10gr syrup.
Crush grilled chili, bird’s eye chili and grilled long eggplant in the mortar.
Season with light soy sauce, lime juice and syrup
Served with boiled and fresh vegetables.
Ingredients; for 4
200 gr meat of ripe sweet mango / 3gr red small chili / 2gr mint stalk / 20gr lime juice /
To test salt.
Peel sweet mango meat and mixed with red chili, mint stalk, lime juice and put a blender till smooth.
Many surprises ahead! “Love Thai neighbour” is the tagline to Bandra’s latest Thai eatery and guess who says “Kap Kun Khap” (bon appetit)? Its my charming French (you read that right, one is an expert on Thai food) lunch companions. The question is will you love Thai neighborhood, casual, modern eatery too?