I wanna hold your hand... Thai Pavilion, Cuffe Parade

You have to be really fortunate to find your soul mate, or lobster as Phoebe calls them .

You feel an incredible rush when you come across the right person. Your world turns around. You wonder, where was she all this while. You try to catch up on lost times. To make up for all the years you existed without her. You forget the mishaps, heartbreaks and pitfalls of misdirected love. You walk around with a goofy smile. You write poems. You serenade her. Shower her with gifts. You throw away your rock songs and listen to love ballads instead. You think you are the luckiest person in the world. You know that your life has finally begun.

I had heard of the legendary Thai Pavilion at the Taj President Hotel at Cuffe Parade quite sometime back. It was amongst the first to introduce Thai food in Mumbai and in India. The brain child of chef Ananda Solomon. A bit like what Pizzeria was to Pizzas at Mumbai.

Surprisingly we had never been to Thai Pavilion ( T P) before despite being Thai food addicts. It is a five star of course. But we'd never even been there when we did highbrow stuff to celebrate or indulge ourselves. We tried a plethora of Thai places at Mumbai and rarely reached the culinary highs that we experienced in Thailand itself.

It was Kainaz's birthday yesterday and we were looking for special options for dinner. I put up a question of Facebook. A number of foodie friends wrote in with suggestions including Rahul and Soumik who gave Thai Pavilion a thumbs up.

Actually we did consider the Thai Pavilion sometime back for a special treat. We ended up at India Jones as some folks had told us that Thai Pavilion's days of glory were over. They were wrong. Anna and the King would both fall for Thai Pavilion. I can now safely say that Thai Pavilion is THE BEST Thai restaurant in Mumbai.

We headed to Thai Pavilion for dinner after watching the nice, but critically overrated film, Kaminey. I should have seen the signs as we had a most wonderful relaxing time at Aroma Thai, the Thai foot massage spa at Pali Hill, earlier in the afternoon.

We reached the Thai Pavilion and were offered the high chairs at the bar as the tables were reserved. That in itself was a nice, relaxed experience. Thai Pavilion is a much smaller restaurant than India Jones but looks much cosier and special with its mix of seating types, yellow lighting and wood furniture. And I would strongly recommend the bar chairs if it's just two of you. Especially if you are the type who gets a high seeing chefs plying their skills in front of you.



Soon after we sat down, someone came and explained the four sauces that were there on the table. I knew we were in good hands. Quite different from Tetsuma, the Japanese restaurant, where K took me for dinner last year. Japanese cuisine is a lot less familiar to most here than Thai and I was left to the memories of my Far Eastern travel trips to know what to do with bowl of wasabi and soy sauce.

T P didn't have fish oil with their standard sauces. When I later asked they said they give a chilly fish oil dip on request as many didn't like the smell. That was reason enough to come back because I love fish oil and used to empty the little bowls by the dozens at a curry place called Kiss Kiss at Pattaya. And never got it here.

I felt a bit emboldened by then at Thai Pavilion and decided to order a red curry with prawns. I never order red curry in Mumbai. Most restaurants here serve a starchy tasteless goop under the guise of red curry. Green curry is a safer bet. You get fluorescent ones at a few places but others are not that bad. Something told me that Thai Pavilion was the place to try out my luck with red curry.

The red curry came soon after some heady drinks. A successful foray with Single Malts, Johnnie Walker Blue Label which they recommended for me as I don't know much about malts. K had a Mango ice tea from the menu which they spiked with vodka at our request.

I took my first bite of the red curry with steamed rice and was transported straight to a restaurant called Soi 5 at Sukhumvit, Bangkok. I had the most incredible Thai red curry with prawns there. The curry at T P was it's Siamese (heh heh) twin. It had the right consistency, neither too thick... nor too thin, it was flavoured perfectly, the right level of salt. Each bite was a royal Thai celebration of the palate. AND Thai Pavilion turned out to be the only place I know here which added the lovely little rascals, Thai brinjals. In fact the absence of Thai brinjals and fish sauce in 'Thai' restaurants here is a big grouse of mine. I could just roll over and purr Khorb koon (Thank you).



I marvelled at the fact that I'd never come to Thai Pavilion before despite living in Mumbai for ten years. I had a lot of lost time to make up for. I began to make plans with Kainaz for future visits. and could think of a million excuses. K prudently took my credit card away.

The next dish followed... spare ribs with green sweet and sour sauce. The sauce was nothing like anything one had before. 'Sweet and sour sauce' in Chinese restaurants here is a thick, sweet ketchupy soup. The green sauce was more like a thick green paste. I am guessing that it could be basil. The spare ribs were the best I have had in my life. There wasn't an inch of chewiness in the meat. It was succulent and easy to cut with a table fork and knife. Almost like slicing butter. And there was more fat in it than in Cupid's cheeks. It had slivers of stewed fruit which helped break the saltiness of pork. And there was something about the taste which was so typical of Bangkok streetfood. It's hard to describe but it is a unique, slightly salty taste with a hint of sweetness.

As I dug into spare ribs with steamed rice I sensed a bit of what Romeo felt when he first set eyes on Juliet.



I knew I had come home.

We are planning our next visit soon and this time it will be green curry and spare ribs in a brownish sauce which we saw someone order yesterday. And I promise to take my camera next time.

Note:
  • The price, as in India Jones, wasn't too different from an upscale restaurant like Tetsuma. Two main dishes, rice and three drinks came to about Rs 3,500 or 70 USD
  • I later checked the bill and saw that they hadn't charged us for the steam rice. A prcatice that I'd noticed in a Thai restaurant in Kuala Lumpur too
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