Oriental Bar and Kitchen at Park Hyatt is concluding its ‘Pop Up Kitchen’ series with ‘Aromas of Thailand’ by Chef Wimon Junlawong from Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. I was invited to a preview session hosted by the hotel where Chef Wimon gave us an insight into Thai cooking through a quick demonstration of a couple of dishes, followed by dinner. The first dish she prepared was Phad taohu kab hat – a stir fry of tofu, mushrooms (shimeji, button, and king), white fungus, and assorted veggies. This dish didn’t scream out Thai to me since it didn’t use any of the ingredients that I’m used to associating with Thai cuisine. But of course, a cuisine (especially one as rich and diverse as Thai cuisine) can never be reduced to a few ingredients. Chef Wimon explained that she picked the stir fry for the demonstration since it is a dish that’s frequently prepared in kitchens across Thailand. The Aromas of Thailand festival menu is a reflection of Chef Wimon’s desire to showcase dishes that go beyond the universally popular salads and curries. Many of the dishes on the menu are humble preparations prepared daily in Thai households. That being said, if you want to come just for the Thai Curry, I won’t blame you. There’s something magical about a well made Thai Curry paired with sticky rice. Chef Wimon’s menu features three Thai Curries – Red (Veg), Green (Chicken), and Massaman (Lamb). She picked the Green Curry to be the second dish for her demonstration. Using her own green curry paste, within minutes she conjured up a delicious Chicken Green Curry (Gaeng Keow Wan Gai).
I began my dinner with a delicious but incredibly fiery Som Tang salad (Green Papaya salad) that I topped up with a generous amount of peanuts. The birds-eye chillies pack a mean punch and might bring you to the verge of tears but you’ll still find it hard to stop eating. The combo of tangy papaya, chilli, and peanuts is addictive! The tangy mangoes and the comparatively mellow heat levels of the Yum Mamuang salad (Spicy Mango salad) made it the perfect dish to follow the Som Tang.
While Chef’s menu includes both Khao Seuy and Tom Yum soups, that latter had been selected for the tasting menu. Chef Wimon’s rendition of this quintessential Thai soup was top notch. The acidic flavours of kaffir lime, lemon grass, and lime perfectly balanced by the other ingredients. In the main course, the Neung Manano (Sea Bass in Lemon Chilli Sauce) impressed. This beautifully plated dish is a homely, steamed fish prep with a light lemon chilli sauce. However, the real star of the main course was the Green Curry and Steam rice combo that I mentioned earlier. We finished our meal with Khao Niew Mamuang (Mango with Sticky rice) and Tab Tim Krob (water chestnut in coconut syrup).
The Aromas of Thailand festival is on till 12th June at Oriental Bar and Kitchen (dinner only). Chef Wimon’s menu goes beyond the popular dishes available at most Pan Asian restaurants and offers a taste of homely Thai cuisine. A meal for two will cost around Rs. 3500.