By Rajat Guha
For long we did not know or knew little about Thai food. Then for long, we would see the Thai menu being relegated to the last page of menu books at Chinese restaurants. For long, Thai food would be represented by ubiquitous green, red curries, Som Tam and Tom Yum. Suddenly, over the last two years, we have seen a considerable sprinkling of specialty Thai restaurants in Delhi and hence the expansion of Thai menu beyond our limited knowledge of eats. And, we started defining Thai menu as we ate more of the cuisine.
Radisson’s Thai restaurant Neung Roi promises to alter the well-founded definitions of the Thai food. Apart from the ambience reminiscent of a fine dining restaurant in Bangkok, the restaurant offers a menu so elaborate that it can send a diner into a tizzy at the first glance. The menu is so elaborate that a single visit is just like a trailer and food that is incredible…all this makes this restaurant a gastronomic delight.
Neung Roi chefs feel many restaurants have done Thai cuisine a disservice by sticking to an easily accessible menu and by refusing to explore the cuisine’s history or its traditions. Their food at Neung Roi moves away from the Pad Thai-Tom Yum clichés and tries to revive ancient dishes from old recipes.
At the restaurant you witness the division of Thailand into four parts. Not literally so. There are four menus in total for the cuisine. The restaurant serves authentic Thai dishes from four regions of Thailand, Isan that is the north east region, Lanna or the north, the Isthmus of Kra which is located in the South and the Central Plains. This covers pretty much the major culinary traditions of Thailand. While the dishes from Isan are spicy and bold; the dishes from Central plains are meticulously presented and balanced in their flavor.
Giving the restaurant the very authentic touch is its Thai chef Yenjai. That she started cooking at the tender age of six (when most of us are still learning to eat) and has worked at Amari, Dusit Thani and Banyan Tree, hotels that define the hospitality culture of Thailand, ensure that what is served on the plate not only looks Thai but also has a Thai heart.
What goes into the restaurant defines the end product. Here is Neung Roi’s story. Before the restaurant was launched for almost a year a team of chefs travelled through length and breadth of Thailand, tasted food in restaurants, visited local markets from where ingredients are sourced and even asked the local taxi guys about the places where they ate, so that they could sample all types of Thai dishes. From streets of Bangkok to bylanes of Chiang Mai, there wasn’t a city that was spared. The result: Today the authentic flavors and aromas of Thailand can be savoured right here at Neung Roi.
There are more stories that this restaurant has. The iPad menu (a rarity in Delhi restaurants) narrates some of these, from origin of the dishes to history of the regions. When scrolling the touch menu you must stop at these items and order them : PooJa (stuffed crab meat in shell), Pla Yang Krue (grilled Tilapia Fish Fillet wrapped in banana leaf) and Goong Pan Takrai (prawn & lemongrass skewer). If you are looking at something beyond seafood try Gai Yang Kiew Wan (grilled chicken with pea aubergine, basil & kaffirlime sauce) and fresh vegetable spring roll that is Porpia Sod.
Salads might not sound a very exciting idea but don’t miss the Yam Som-O, a pomelo salad with crispy onion, garlic and palm sugar tamarind dressing and Phla Hoy shell which is the scallop salad with lemongrass, kaffirlime and shallot.