Thursday, 12 November 2015 09:00

A window to Thailand's gastronomic diversity

The recently launched Thai restaurant, Neung Roi is the ultimate place to savour flavourful and authentic Thai cuisine says Poonam Thapa, who was there with the team recently to sample the exceptional gastronomic delight.

An impressive wall arrangement of fresh purple orchids set the Thai ambience as they welcome you at the entrance. The minimalistic and modern décor states the effortless elegance of Neung Roi that is heightened by mute lighting and soft music, creating an exclusively restful ambience.

After being seated in a comfortable, cozy arrangement and placing our orders for beverages, we were already looking forward to the chef’s recommendations that promised us a unique voyage of Thailand's gastronomic diversity.

As the dishes appeared one by one, our taste buds opened up wonderfully to a cuisine that was wholesome and soulful, bringing out the cultural essence of Thailand. The first to arrive was the delicate Sago rice dumpling served with sweet chilli sauce. The bite sized portion was stuffed with a wonderful combination of mushrooms and peanuts and was indicator of the gastronomic delight we were to experience. It was followed by the crisp winged bean salad or Yam Tuea Plu that was sprinkled with crunchy roasted coconut and a tamarind sauce so refreshing that I had to try hard to control my urge to take several helpings. Then next was the Gai Yeng, a delightfully grilled chicken with roasted chili sauce that was simply incredible, needless to say we devoured it within minutes.

There was also a vegetarian amongst us and the chef considerately sent in the Tohu Song Khurg, a dish made of tofu with betel nut leaves. Striking in its presentation, the tofu was beautifully placed in a cute micro mini green leaf basket, drizzled with a tangy tamarind sauce. And as we were being initiated to the intense flavours of Isan, the delicate balance of Lanna, the freshness of the southern cuisine and the sophistication of central Thailand, I realized that Thai cuisine is not just about eating healthy but also about getting nature on your table. 

The luscious deep fried pork belly, Moo Thod Katiem, was voted the favorite by all meat eaters, due to its accurate crispiness on the outside and succulent tenderness in the inside, making it a perfectly scrumptious dish.

Although Thai cuisine is quite well established and received among Indian foodies with the Tom Yum soup featuring as a regular in restaurants, I feel it becomes difficult for foodies to find the fine balance in this ever popular soup when the spicy sourness becomes more pronounced and overpowering if not done properly. But at Neung Roi, it was indeed wonderful to discover a Tom Yum so finely balanced with the perfect blend of flavour and taste without being overwhelming on the palate. I was so glad to have selected the Pla Neung Manao, a steamed fish that was soft enough to fall apart at the touch of the chopsticks. Served with its fabulous delicate flavors of lime-chili sauce I highly recommended it along with another must have, the Goong Thod Ha Rod, a fried prawn dish spiked with five flavor sauce served and exceptionally well done caramelized onions. Phad Pak Kiew is a pure and perfect plate of stir fry greens for vegetarians, containing kale with morning glory, pok-choy, soya bean sauce that is beautifully seasoned with garlic and pepper. I just loved the crunchiness of the veggies and the knowledge that I was eating healthy helped to conceal my guilt of gluttony.

And then there was the Pad Thai Pak. For me a Thai meal is not complete without rice noodle dish, with a mix of tofu, bean sprout, chive, tamarind, chili and ground peanut. I couldn’t be more delighted to have sampled the most authentic Phad Thai here. Phad Kee Maow Tohu, tofu and vegetables served with nice hot basil, chili and dark soy sauce deserves a special mention as the vegetarian in our group couldn’t stop raving about the wonderful basil sauce.

After savouring so many dishes, we were absolutely up to the brim, but how can someone resist dessert after a wonderful meal? It was a simple yet delectable dish of sticky rice with fresh mango slices and coconut cream called Khao Niew Mamuang, where the natural flavours of the mango and coconut milk blended amazingly well with the texture of the sticky rice. The Saku Melon was another sweet dish which is sago in coconut milk with fresh melon. We were also served a visually captivating Tub Tim Krob, water chestnut in coconut jasmine syrup that elated out palate . The brilliant menu at Nueng Roi is crafted by Chef Yenjai and she certainly gives you an amazing experience to the best in the cuisine of the different regions of Thailand. It will be of no wonder if you slip into a contented and pleasant food stupor, as we did, after sampling this divine cuisine that is so pure and wholesome.! If you love Thai food or a foodie you shouldn't miss this one.

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