The Ritz Carlton is running their flavors of Thailand promotion, led by visiting Chef Aong. Chef is from Phulay Bay, a Ritz Carlton Reserve, a luxury resort in Krabi, Thailand, and she is revisiting after a stint last year. Aptly called the Thai Encore, this food festival running at The Market, strives to bring lesser known yet very indigenous dishes and preparations to the patrons. Popular for her cooking classes as well, Chef conducted one on Women’s Day, which I couldn’t attend. However I did meet her on 7th evening for dinner, graciously invited by Gargi – Director of Public Relations, and was able to pick her brain on some insights on cooking Thai food.
Firstly we started with some freshly made Som Tam, as well as Prawns’ Salad by the chef. The salad was spicy, though the chef did ask if we wanted to temper it down. We took her standard issue and loved it. The other salad was made quite interesting with the ingredients used. Prawns with lemon grass garnished with spring onion was such a simple, yet flavorful selection. Her recommendation took me to the spicy pork belly stir fry next. Simple, can’t go wrong, the pork almost cooks in its own fat, and the very high wok ensures the pork is not chewy just a tad crispy. We tried the vegetarian soup, and found it quite refreshing with a nice tangy edge to it. Beautiful.
Another dish that we absolutely enjoyed was Pla Chu Chee – basically the Thai Red Curry and Fish, but instead of making it a curry, here it was made with similar spices but kept sautéed. Quite different and herby. There was also a dish with zucchini and herbs which was lovely, atypically made with sea food, but the vegetarian rendition was quite delicious as well. Shallots, kaffir lime, lemon grass, bite of green peppercorn all chopped together and fried – a good balance of the greens and flavors.
There were some delicious tofu stir fries and fried rice that accompanied some of the dishes I mentioned above. While spices are important for the classic red and green curries, the other dishes on the buffet were kept simple. Almost rustic. Sea food is a predominant part of Thai food and cooking, however the way some of those dishes were incorporated with vegetarian counterparts and substitutes was really commendable.
For dessert there were various sticky rice and coconut based Thai specials which we enjoyed. The lovely thing about The Market is its beautiful and large dessert counter that almost welcomes you in. Thus you start your meal desiring the desserts! We had a selection of western, Thai and Indian sweet dishes – truly spoilt for choice!
One of Gargi’s personal recommendations was to end with some cheese with mango and papaya chutneys. And I absolutely loved this, the fresh brie especially. The Thai Encore is on at the Ritz Carlton from 6th March to 13th March, for both lunch priced at 1750 INR plus taxes and dinner priced at 1950 INR plus taxes.