A couple of weeks back I was at The Thai Pavilion at Taj Vivanta, Gurgaon, to enjoy a special lunch menu celebrating the first anniversary of the restaurant. As I arrived, I met Chef Ananda Soloman, the executive Chef and the one behind Taj Vivanta’s Thai restaurants. He was visiting from Mumbai and had put together the celebratory lunch menu, a mix of Thai Pavillion’s popular and signature dishes.
We were seated at the table, all pretty with the gold-rimmed plates, and the blue orchids, and served a fragrant lemongrass daiquiri mocktail; very refreshing after my mad-dash across town. The appetizers started to arrive as we made conversation with the others at the bloggers’ table. The amuse bouche bundle was pretty as a picture and whetted my appetite.
I picked on my yum ma muang, a salad of shredded not-so-sour mangoes and water chestnuts (it sorely needed some heat sizzle) which was followed by fried marinated pandan-leaf-wrapped chicken, spinach and potato fritters, and crab cakes (stuffed in crab shells). As everyone around me oohed and aahed, I wondered if I was the only one who felt that the starters were a tad too salty. Miang kham pak (tofu wrapped with betel leaf and served with plum sauce) was the intriguing highlight of the starter course. The Thai betel leaf is a milder variety of what we use for paan.
Thankfully, salt-levels for the main course were more like what I am used to, though the pla nueng manao (steamed john dory with lemon garlic sauce) seemed too bland to be Thai (I am no expert!). Hang on, it does get better. 😀 The vegetarian menu had many tasty options if the phad priao warn tao (silky bean curd with black bean sauce) was any indication. I am not partial to non-vegetarian food, so I will vouch that vegetarians need not feel ignored at The Thai Pavilion. The test of a good restaurant is not just in its ability to serve the complicated dishes but also in how well it can execute the common-place; the classic pad thai (flat rice noodles with vegetables) was so good, I could have eaten in on its own. The gaeng masaman-pe (southern Thai lamb curry), gaeng leung kai (yellow chicken curry), ped noy (roast duck), all made for great presentation and tasted good Jasmine rice which had been wrapped in pandan leaves and steamed.
Any meal is eventually judged by its last course, the dessert. Here Chef Solomon has excelled. The piece de resistance of the lunch was definitely the tender coconut ice cream. Makrut-flavoured soft-centered chocolate dollops, looked good plated beside it with bright fruits (dragon fruit has to be the prettiest and insipid-est fruit!), but it all paled with the first spoonful of the most delicious ice cream you could ever eat. The delicate light-green pandan sauce set off the fresh tender coconut flavour beautifully. Thai Pavilion is worth a visit for the ice cream alone!
Note: The lunch was complimentary but the review is all me!