That rhymed! Well, no wonder they make such a great pair. Chap Chay, the Asian fine dining restaurant at The Raintree, St. Mary’s Road, Chennai is currently hosting a Thai Food Festival that boasts of a specially crafted menu by Chef Siriporn Krasae-at a.k.a Chef Joy, who’s come all the way from Thailand to give us a taste of authentic Thai dishes born out of her culinary expertise and traditional recipes passed on through generations.
Warm and welcoming
“I believe that recipes are not something authentic but something refreshing and seasonal. The essence of the food is what should be authentic,” says Chef Joy who adds that she has incorporated seasonal flavors and ingredients into the menu she has curated for the festival.
We begin with the Gaeng Jued Tofu Woon Sen, a Thai clear soup made with vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms. The flavorful soup is a welcoming start to the meal, spiced mildly and the silky tofu adding a nice texture.
The Ton Orn Tantawan, a healthy crunchy salad made with sunflower sprouts, crispy sheet, pumpkin and watermelon seeds with a chilli lime and coconut dressing was quite easily one of the tastiest salads we’ve had. A good dose of crunch while an earthy freshness pervades every spoonful, making the dish an absolute delight.
Salads and skewers
We move on to the appetizers and to say we were spoilt for choice would be an understatement. The Po Pia Kee Mow was a spicy dish of vegetable spring rolls served with a sweet chilli dip. What’s Thai food without spring rolls, right? Chef Joy warns us of it being too spicy but our South Indian palates were more than okay with the crunchy spring rolls.
The next was a Satay Gai, Thai-style grilled skewers of chicken breasts with a creamy peanut dip. The chicken is super tender and a herby aftertaste that we found refreshing in a satay dish.
Larb Gai was a juicy minced chicken salad made with Thai herbs and roasted rice powder with a good dose of lemon sauce and chilli flakes. The dish was spicy as it was juicy and the minced chicken has a citrusy and slightly minty flavor that balances out the spiciness.
The heartiest part
Our main course was a mash of popular Thai dishes made in Chef Joy’s unique style which results in dishes that taste nothing like what we’re used to. The Gai Phad Khing was a delicious stir-fry of chicken with chilli, onion, and ginger and we still can’t get over the flavourful, perfectly-cooked chicken dish. “The dish is spiced with a good amount of ginger because, well, winter is coming,” smiles Chef Joy as she serves the Phad Khing.
The Gaeng Kiew Wan was a sweet and spicy Thai green curry that was all about the seasonal vegetables. The creamy curry was served with a lovely bowl of jasmine rice and what a combo they were!
Our Tom Yum Chicken Fried Rice was one fried rice dish we’d remember for a long time. Fresh Thai herbs, kaffir lime, and lemongrass were among the spices used for this and the rice served with a fried egg was flavorful and downright yummy.
On a sweet note
Our dessert from their a la carte menu was the Kha Nom Tom, dumplings stuffed with sweetened coconut filling and rolled over in salted coconut flakes was a beautiful way to end the meal. The chewy outer layer hides within itself the sweetness of the coconut cooked in jaggery and for all those who love their desserts to be subtly sweet, this is a perfect choice.
Chef Joy’s menu has the warmth of home-cooked food with its milder, aromatic flavors that don’t feel like an overkill anywhere. Her focus is on making comforting food that carries the true essence of her country and the food at the That Food Festival is a testimony to that. “Guests are very knowledgeable these days and they have a huge choice when it comes to food, restaurants, and cuisines. Unoriginal food just won’t cut it. Which is why we have worked together to give them true flavors of Thai food through this festival,” says Chef Tamoghna Chakraborty, executive chef at The Raintree. We for one can tell that they have.
The Thai Food Festival at Chap Chay, The Raintree, St. Mary’s Road is on till July 15 and a meal for two is priced at Rs. 1,800.