Benjarong is Thai for ‘five colors’, and refers to the intricate indigenous floral artwork seen on the delicate porcelain of Thailand.
Paying tribute to this special art-form, Benjarong, the Thai restaurant at Dusit Thani Dubai, is beautifully adorned with the traditional aesthetics of Thailand. With a nod to the kitchens of Thai royalty, the menu offerings list tantalizing feasts from Northern Thailand.
At the reception of the restaurant are glass-encased shelves of precious Benjarong artifacts.
I was in awe with the restaurant decor as I walked in. It looked so authentically Thai, yet so vibrantly different from anything I’ve seen before in Dubai.
The restaurant is well-lit, roomy and beautifully decorated with ornately carved wood, plush seating and polished wooden flooring.
Even the menu looks stunning!
Benjarong has an extensive drinks menu. There’s one for juices, iced teas and mocktails and a separate one for the alcoholic mixes.
I am a huge fan of Thai iced tea. I know its a naughty treat and loaded with calorie-heavy condensed milk, but wow! The iced tea at Benjarong is amazing! I love the creaminess of the drink with its subtle tea flavor, and the heavy cover-up of ice that makes each sip seem not-so-naughty. What a refreshing start to the meal.
And below is what my family had. Hubby sipped on Benjarong’s Mojito and our little daughter had a tall glass of fresh watermelon juice all to herself.
Although her glass was rather tall and challenging for her little hands, bubby did a good job and finishing her drink even before the mains hit the table!
As we were sipping through our drinks and contemplating over the Starters menu, we were entertained by a live performance.
Benjarong has a stage right at the center of the restaurant, and a stunning young lady decked up in a colorful traditional Thai outfit played Thai tunes on the khim for us.
The khim is a traditional Thai wooden instrument with brass strings that are strung with two flexible bamboo sticks. The instrument sounds very similar to a guitar.
The khim player entertained us with soothing Thai melodies, and interspersed it with popular tunes including Richard Marx’s ‘Right Here Waiting‘.
When my four year-old decided to walk right up to the stage, I was pretty worried! However, she just sat by the pretty lady who very kindly played out some popular nursery tunes for her. Suddenly they were crooning to the likes of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’ and ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ together!
My daughter is now demanding a khim of her own… and a pretty Thai dress to go with it!
Still unsure on what to order for Starters, we went for the Kong Wang Ruammitr Benjarong, a platter that includes five different types of appetizers.
How pretty is the presentation?! Even the cutlery used at Benjarong is inspired by the royal art.
Kong Wang Ruammitr Benjarong includes the following:
- Puffed rice cakes
- Guay Tiew Hor (cute little ‘money bag’ parcels made of rice noodle sheets, and stuffed with chicken mince, vegetables and shrimp)
- Tord Mun Pla (Thai fish cakes with a mild curry flavoring)
- Por Pia Savoey (crisp, deep-fried spring rolls)
- Gai Haw Bai Toey (succulently soft marinated boneless chicken wrapped in pandan leaves)
We also ordered a plate of Som Tum Thai, the much-loved spicy green papaya salad of Thailand. The one at Benjarong is refreshingly tangy-sweet with sharp notes of spiciness, and I loved the chewiness of the salted dried shrimp that was tossed into it.
How can you dine at a Thai restaurant and not have a Thai soup?! We stuck with our favorite, the Tom Yum Gae Rue Goong.
Fiery hot yet balanced out with classic Thai notes of sweet and sour, our soup bowls were loaded with full-on classic Tom Yum flavors and served with a very generous helping of plump, juicy-fresh shrimps.
Half-way through the soup round, and our pretty entertainer hits the stage. This time she presents us with a round of traditional Thai dancing in graceful sways and hand movements.
At Benjarong, you truly do get a taste of royal Thai service with an ambiance to match!
Even my little four year-old was kept happy with a little pack of crayons and a Benjarong-themed children’s activities book. As a mummy, I love restaurants that keep little hands busy too!
Next came our round of Mains.
For the month of August, Benjarong has a special menu with very special pricing that is dedicated to noodles.
This menu is aptly titled ‘Your Longest Bite Yet’, and our host insisted we tried the Goey Cee Mee.
Goey Cee Mee is a crispy nest of deep-fried egg noodles sitting on a pool of flavorful Thai broth. It is topped with tiger prawns, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoot, baby corn, carrots and broccoli.
I loved the crispiness of the noodles, and the deep soy-infused flavor of the broth. The dish had a generous serving of prawn and chicken, and the shiitake mushroom lent its uniquely divine flavoring to each bite. By far, the Goey Cee Mee was our favorite dish of the night, and I was not surprised when our host informed us that given its popularity, Benjarong will be making it a permanent addition to their existing menu.
One of my favorite Thai dishes is soft-shell crab, and we had to give the one at Benjarong a try.
Listed under ‘ Chef Specialty’ on the menu, Benjarong’s Pu Nim Phad Prig Thai Dum is a heady mix of deep-fried battered soft-shell crabs in a robust pepper gravy. The crab was beautifully crisp despite being dunked in gravy, and the whole pile of chopped spring onion on top not only served as a pretty garnish, but added a hint of freshness to the dish.
We love Thai curry, and from Benjarong’s selection, we chose to try their Gaeng Phed Ped Yang.
This is a traditional Thai red curry with roasted duck. The addition of pineapple, cherry tomatoes and grapes adds a touch of tanginess to the otherwise densely rich, aromatic gravy.
We soaked up the goodness of the curry with scented Thai Jasmine rice.
The portions at Benjarong are generously large, and for two adults and a child, we could have easily satiated our appetites with two mains. We definitely over-ordered!
We would have skipped dessert altogether, had our host not mentioned their fresh Thai coconut ice-cream (Kra-Ti) that is made in-house. Sounded like the perfect ending to a rich, heavy meal.
The Kra-Ti ice-cream is decadently creamy, yet refreshingly coconut. The salted peanuts topping adds the exotic Thai touch of savory with sweet.
Overall, we loved our dinner experience at Benjarong and would highly recommend it to Thai cuisine fans looking for a royal treat!
For a full-on Thai experience, you can even host a dinner of up to 6 friends and book Benjarong’s private room. Wouldn’t dining on these plush cushions be a memorable experience?!
Please visit the Benjarong website for more information on the restaurant, and table reservations.