It is hard to find both good service and good food when dining out with family or friends; more often than not you find one but not the other. When we went to have dinner at Birdcage at the Semiramis hotel we were happily surprised to find both, and then some.
From the moment we stepped into Birdcage we noticed the friendliness of the staff, who gave us fragranced hot towels to clean our hands before our meal. Our waiter soon arrived with a delicious amuse-bouche: shrimp crackers with sweet and sour sauce. Assistant Manager Mohamed Saad later revealed that they are fried just before serving, so that they are fluffy and warm when they come to the table.
For starters, we had the Thai Chicken Satay and Koong Sai Mai (shrimp konafa). The chicken was a delight; succulent in its creamy satay sauce, it was served on a bed of stir-fried potatoes and a small salad of chopped cucumber and carrots in a sweetened vinaigrette. The shrimp konafa was cooked to perfection, and its tamarind sauce made for a nice surprise.
We then enjoyed the Tom Kha Kai, which is a chicken soup, made with a coconut milk and lemon grass base, which offers as a great combination of flavours with the chicken. We also tried the Keang Pod Neua Kem, or vegetable soup, which had pieces of tofu, along with bean sprouts, ginger, kale, mushroom and celery, and proved to be tasty and rich in flavour.
A great vegetarian option for a main course is the stir-fried vegetables, which contains a variety of vegetables, including mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and beans. The portion size was very generous, enough to make it a proper main course.
The Pad Tai Koong, which consists of egg noodles, shrimps, bean sprouts and peanuts with soy sauce, had a lot of texture and a blend of flavours.
Half-way through the main dishes, we felt like we had reached our limit and could eat no more. Saad insisted, however, that we try his own personal blend of tea as well as some of the desserts. We ignored our bulging stomachs and conceded. He prepared for us the most delicious tea of lemon grass, lemon leaf, ginger, mint and galangal (similar to ginger, but with a stronger taste).
The desserts were magnificent and very rich. We sampled the fried ice cream, coated with a fluffy layer of coconut and apple shavings, and served along with a piece of pineapple. We also tried the fried banana, served on skewers with pieces of meringue, along with ice cream. They were tasty, but our favourite was the great fried ice cream, which we highly recommend.
Saad is proud of the fact that nothing is pre-cooked, which assures that everything is fresh and of high quality. In addition, Chef Narong grows his own herbs on the hotel’s roof, including the lemon grass. Saad and Chef Narong have been working together for 15 years, ensuring a harmonious management of the kitchen and restaurant; evident in the high quality of the food. The fresh and flavourful dishes, coupled with a friendly and attentive staff make Birdcage a restaurant worth a visit.