One Night in Bangkok
Thailand is one of those countries that offer unique dining options. From the multitude of back alley food trucks offering things that will be described to your friends back home as ‘that green looking thing’ or ‘that mushroom that looked like a rock of some kind’, to the very decadent and insanely cheap seafood, there will inevitably be a story around a culinary situation.
With noodles, rice, fish, and pork options available just about everywhere it’s no wonder that spending 2 weeks either in Bangkok or the hedonistic Phuket will provide a variety that is both fascinating and astonishing. But that’s a long flight and we all can’t escape for a weekend no matter how bad we want to.
But fear not as Thailand is closer than you think. Nestled in the grounds of the Al Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection in Dubai you’ll find the closest thing to a Thai escape that one can find in the concrete jungle. Bamboo Kitchen offers authentic Thai spice in a quaint and intimate setting just a short drive away.
Surrounded by a large terrace, lush plant life and relaxing water features, the casual restaurant immediately begins to soothe the urban beast. Stepping through the door it continues to massage the stress away, the soft candlelight, fresh orchids, and wooden facets of décor seem to be working in some kind of Asian Zen together, getting the night’s experience off to a good start.
The extremely friendly and attentive staff was ready to assist us in any menu indecisions we might have had. The selection of dinner beverages is extensive, however, based on their recommendation, we all opted for Thai imports, some of it in the form of hops and some of it in the form of grape.
The Thai wine on selection was one each of red and white. Since the weather was still quite warm, the white was the immediate choice. The golden hue swirled in the glass, at first taste it was light and fruity, but finished with almost a sweet embellishment, surprising to us, not like a dessert wine as we had originally thought.
For the hops, Singha and Chang were the contenders and after a small bit of endorsement from the staff, Singha was the choice for the evening…again, simply because of the added heat and humidity of the evening, something lighter seemed more adequate.
The initial starting point can be immediately daunting. The muted sounds of the live Khim performance allowed us to read down the list of menu items taking in all of the available selections with a long sigh of relaxation. As you peruse you realize that everything sounds divinely delicious. What we found out is that reading to the bottom of the page isn’t necessary, in fact, you can simply stop after the first item; The Starter Platter.
This plate of variety, has almost one of everything when it comes to the appetizer menu, in fact it’s only missing the Satay Nue. The other items, Satay Kai, Chor Muang Kai, Tod Mun Pla, Goong Ma Praw Dill, and Poh Pia Pak all make the list and the platter is accompanied with three distinct sauces, Homemade Chili, Peanut Sauce, and Sweet Chili…all of which will accentuate any of the dinner prequels.
It’s important to point out at this moment the spice chart the restaurant has for each dish. Designated by chili peppers on the bottom of the first page, one two and three peppers designate ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’, and ‘Expert’ respectively, but there is a sinister four-pepper category that is simply labeled ‘You have become Thai’.
Since none of us wanted to make a spectacle of ourselves, we maintained a constant hovering around the ‘Intermediate’ category; which offered some pithy punch but nothing that brought tears to our eyes.
As easy as it was to make a selection among the appetizers, the Main Courses were significantly more
difficult. Through a multitude of chicken, beef, duck, and vegetable choices, there is also a selection of noodles and/or rice that need to be considered.
Our gracious hosts had once again come to our rescue with the first selection being in the two-chili category - Kaeng Ped Yang. Listed on the menu as a curry, this dish more resembled a light stew. Roasted duck was chopped up and mixed in with some baby eggplant, cherry tomatoes, grapes, lychee, pineapple, sweet basil, a dash of fish sauce and some coconut milk.
We were all glad that we didn’t miss this one. I paired mine with one of my favorite dishes from when I visited Thailand; Khao Pad Sapparot which is a hollowed out pineapple shell filled with shrimp, squid, fried rice, chunks of pineapple, spring onion, raisins, cashew nuts, and dash of curry powder for kick and some soya sauce.
My dining companions all opted for something different. Half of them found the Nue Yang Jim Jaew, which was a grilled beef rib-eye, served with onion, tamarind, chili powder, fish sauce, roasted rice, and Thai parsley. The other half went surf rather than turf and ordered the Goong Ob Wun Sen. But with ample portions of both along side of mine, there was certainly enough to go around and we were able to sample a little bit of everything.
THAIme for dessert
As the night came to a close, the dessert menu had somehow found its way back under our eyes. Everything up to this point had been a subtle reminder of how much of a good time I had in Thailand on my last visit. But I am a dessert aficionado if I do say so myself, so I certainly needed to peruse the options.
My choice was a simple Pineapple Tart that came with a scoop of lemongrass ice cream, which was actually more like a sorbet, but it kept things light and left me feeling satisfied rather than overly-stuffed. The Bua Ioy Ma Praow On, tiny taro glutinous rice balls served in coconut milk, was also something different and light. The homemade ice cream was smooth and creamy and at the end of our Thai escape we were all happy we toured the lay of the land so well.