There is no other flavor I love more than lemongrass, and second to that is chocolate, so to combine the two in one meal is simply divine.
Lai Thai at the Four Seasons First Residence has cuisine so authentic, an evening dining is a surrealist experience of absolute disconnect from the city.
On Sundays, for the fair fee of LE 230 (plus 12 percent service charge) per person, one can dine on a flexible set menu of a three course meal and enjoy a lavish chocolate buffet to boot.
The meal is set to be composed of an appetizer, a main meal and a side dish. Appetizers include a variety of traditional Thai fare such as satays and spring rolls, soups and salads. Main courses include Thai curries, various carnivorous dishes and seafood, and side dishes are meant to compliment the main dish with either rice or noodles.
Dining with a group of four one evening, I sampled much and, to my delight, although Thai food incorporates a lot of fried food into its menus, no guilty afterthought remained. It all felt quite light on the palette.
Staring with arhan wang ruam ros, we ordered appetizers to be shared between two people and got a medley of beef and chicken satay with curried peanut sauce and ajard sauce, tuna cakes, vegetable spring rolls, fried shrimps, and marinated beef also accompanied with its special sauce.
Bite size and slightly spicy, the appetizers were a fitting introduction to the flavors to come.
The colors and textures of the food made one eager to sample everything on the table.
The pla kapong neung manao, steamed sea bass fillet with lime, garlic and chili, was a nice reminder of the versatility of sea bass. Although a somewhat bland fish, it was wonderfully played with, and surprisingly with basic cooking staples easy to find in any kitchen. But would I ever be able to duplicate such a dish? A disappointing no. The sea bass was anything but boring, made more tasty by the chili.
We shared the pad horapa talay, wok fried seafood with chili and sweet basil, and the nua pad nam man hoi, wok fried beef with mushroom, onions and oyster sauce. Although the former had a warning indicator of three chilis to mark the severity of its spiciness, I found that the levels of spiciness in Lai Thai were quite mild.
If looking for a spicy dish, ask for it be made hotter. But flavor overall was fantastic, made perfect with its pairing of our side dishes of kaow pad lai thai, fried rice with egg and vegetables. We also shared another fried rice dish with minced chicken and shrimp satay with thai herbs which had a nice fusion of organic flavors mixed with the shrimp and chicken.
The noodles were my favorite side dish. Pad see ewe gai, fried noodles with chicken and vegetables in dark soya sauce, were a perfect mix of crunch and taste. And to me, the mark of a good Asian food chef is one who can mask the bitterness of soya – the noodles were sweet in a way.
Though small Buddhas greet guests at the restaurant’s entrance, it’s not about kitsch interiors as much as it is about the food here. But the interiors too are beautiful with soft lighting, Thai staff sweetly smiling and ever so helpful diners navigate the new terms of flavors and spices. Dishes can be modified; requests to eliminate some ingredients due to allergies and personal preferences were graciously accommodated.
And the lemongrass seemed to be everywhere lingering on our dishes, palettes and in the air. Followed by the sumptuous chocolate buffet, no craving went unfulfilled. I’m hoping to make Sunday dinners a regular outing.