I love Thai food. Spicy, sweet and sour, all of my favorite flavors and some of my favorite ingredients are integral to this unique cuisine. Thai basil and coconut milk. Delectable fragrant lemongrass. Succulent duck.
For 10 days, Chef Supattra will be cooking up Thai delights at the Grand Hyatt’s open buffet restaurant Fontana. Based in Sharm El-Sheikh’s Grand Hyatt, Supattra has served in Dubai’s Park Hyatt and has cooked for kings and presidents on numerous occasions.
Taught by her father, “because my mother wasn’t a very good cook, laughs Supattra, she has earned recognition by her peers as well, winning the bronze medal of the Thai Chef’s Association.
I was shown a preview of what’s to come and merely thinking of my lovely lunch has me smacking my lips.
Thai food is healthy and easy to digest, claims Supattra. Hailing from the north east of Thailand, close to Vietnam, Supattra’s style is heavily influenced by the county’s lightest regional cuisine which shares many similarities with Vietnamese cuisine.
A Thai meal has no rigidly set courses. To sip while ordering, a pandan ice tea was brought to the table. It is made from pandan leaves, a plant native to Thailand. Rich in flavonoid antioxidants, I drank the refreshing tea.
Shrimp crackers for dipping were a good appetizer, but the main dishes were beyond belief so heed my warning and come with an appetite.
The dried beef with chili sauce was simply succulent, tender and perfectly pink in the middle. Green papaya was grated into long strands and dressed with snap peas and a very spicy dressing. The papaya was cooling on the palette as the chili started kicking – I must again warn you, Supattra’s food is not for the faint-hearted.
I would also highly suggest the seafood salad of mussels and calamari garnished with chili and lemongrass.
Thai food incorporates beef, duck, chicken and seafood and Supattra is quite capable of working with a variety of foods without overpowering their taste with strong spices.
The spicy prawn soup was good, but I would pass on it next time for space – a stir fried prawn dish with the jasmine rice served alongside are perfect compliments. The jasmine rice, says Supattra, is cooked without any fat. Purely steamed and flavored with the water of jasmine flowers, the long grain rice is so flavorful. But she does point out that all Thai food, especially that prepared by her, is made from all natural ingredients.
And I would believe that. Everything is so fragrant and organic in taste, and one’s sense of smell is teased by refreshing notes of lemongrass.
Supattra’s other main dishes include the sweet basil roast duck curry with coconut milk. A variety of aubergines grown only in Thailand, unconventionally small, and with a unique taste between zucchini and aubergines, goes in the pot with the juicy duck. What amazes me is how coconut and basil go so well together.
Pad thai noodles, thick with what appears to be sweetened rice crackers, are also served but the meal is predominantly Atkins-diet friendly.
And for dessert, a coconut milk based cold soup with bitter Thai mango slices and tapioca, an organic matter that comes from flowers, took the sting of chili and spice away.
And should you order Young Coconut Milk be prepared to wait a while. They peel and shave the coconut and present it to you on a plate.
Much to my surprise, my coconut milk was served fresher than fresh. A straw inside was all I required to sip away and enjoy.
Fontana Restaurant, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Garden City.The Thai festival will run for 10 days starting Oct. 15.Tel: 02-365-1234