HIGH ON THAI
Ilove travelling to other countries, exploring their culture and traditions, experiencing their lifestyle, and savouring their traditional dishes. Last year on visiting Thailand, I did get to do most of these, and along with the many brilliant memories that I brought back with me, was an uncanny inclination towards Thai food, specifically their spices.
I haven’t been to too many Thai restaurants in Oman because of the fear that my tastebuds might forget the original taste of the amazing Thai food but when I heard about Charm Thai, I had this gut feeling that I would get a chance to taste some authentic Thai cuisine. So I decided to pay a visit to this restaurant situated in the new Crowne Plaza overlooking the gorgeous natural wadi, the wide mountains, and amidst the silence and peace of nothingness.
I walked into Crowne Plaza down the spiralling staircase to the arrive at the huge, glistening door with 6730 Thai Bahts (local currency) of Charm Thai standing tall and protective of what it holds within. A petite, young woman emerged out of the door and with joined palms and smile on her face greeted me with the traditional
Sawadikaa and ushered me into this magical land of imagination, creativity, art, and a pure culinary haven. I walked through admiring the unique furnitures in bold purples and browns, the ancient paintings hanging from the walls, the intricately designed ceiling, poetry about food running along the pillars and the photographs of the kings and queens of age-old Thailand. Wide-eyed, too many questions popped in my mind, which is when another attendant sprang up in front of me took me through the very interesting tale of this place.
Mostly fictitious, the story of Charm Thai revolves around Princess Suphankalaya, who was disguised as a royal warrior. During the 16th century Siam - Burmese war, the King’s army was corralled into a valley. A warrior dressed in golden armour riding an elephant charged down the Burmese from the rear. During the battle the warrior’s helmet fell off to reveal her true identity and the legend of The Golden Princess was born. The king was ashamed of being saved by his own daughter and banished her. She set sail along the Silk Route and finally discovered Oman where she established her Tavern. All the artefacts are said to be collected during the Princess’ expedition around the world.
Having heard this fascinating tale, my excitement about dining here peaked. All the chefs and attendants were Thai nationals who brought the authenticity and tradition of the land along with them. Chef Shakriya, who was the star of the night, prepared a few signature dishes and presented them before us. I chose to sit outside as the weather was pleasant, the lighting was perfect, and the Thai music felt like meditation. The seats outside were wooden and in the shape of the boat to compliment the tale of the restaurant and the lights were just right to set the mood.
First came the papaya salad and the iconic Tom Yum soup cooked with shrimps. The taste was so fresh and distinct that for once I felt that the soup didn’t just do the job of readying my tastebuds for the supper but as the beginning to the supper itself. Then came the grilled chicken satay. Served with skewers, alongside tamarind sauce and Thai special acha, which is a mix of cucumber, vinegar and sugar is a delight to dine on. The flavours are settled in well and it is a pleasant nibble. The chicken is juicy and the sides add a strong flavour to it.
Then came the two mains — Thai prawns curry and Duck with vegetables and tamarind sauce.As the prawns curry came to the table, I shut my eyes and took a deep breath to catch the mouth-watering whiff, which transported me to Thailand for a few seconds. This is the smell that I caught in very street and restaurant I walked through in Thailand and I finally found it here. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this pink prawns curry. I took some jasmine rice and submerged it in loads of prawns curry and devoured on it like theres no tomorrow. Unlike the popular green curry, this one is sweet and slightly tangy and is staple in Southern Thailand, which is where the chef hails from. I then moved on to the duck and couldn’t stop wondering why I hadn’t tried duck ever before. The combination on my plate was just perfect. The well cooked duck served with this tamarind sauce and crisped leafy vegetables that were all meant to be savoured together. I loved how perfectly the duck was cooked and how well all these different tastes of compositions complimented each other.
Finally, I moved on to my favourite dish ever. Mango with sticky rice. All Thai fruits are sweeter than it is in other countries. Since I’m born with a sweet tooth not just for chocolates or desserts but for everything, Thai fruits especially mango and coconut are my favourite from the time I tasted it. So when I was served mango with white sticky rice that was put together like risotto I was on cloud nine. The fruit was as sweet as it should be, the rise wasn’t too heavy, and I just kept going on and on at it, until my stomach told me that it can take no more. It was time for me to say Khaponkhaa, just to come back again very soon.