Thai cuisine, by far, is my all-time favorite. I love the exotic combination of herbs, the delicate chemistry of hot, sour and sweet. I’ve eaten at many Thai restaurants across the city, but this was my very first visit to Tong Thai at JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai.
Walking into Tong Thai is a magical experience in itself. The long, spacious corridors with an eerie dimness reveal a beautifully done up interior complete with larger than life wrought-iron temple bells and cabana-style seating. And just when you think you’ve got a gist of the ambiance, you walk into an expansive space all lit up in the brightness of red lanterns.
Although I’d associate red lanterns more with Chinese cuisine, we were in absolute awe of the place as we got ushered to our table.
We made a reservation for two adults and a child, and this has to be the first restaurant ever that actually set up my daughter’s table with child-friendly unbreakable cutlery! It’s all in the little details.
We were hosted by a lovely young Thai girl called Manee who was very well versed in her native cuisine, and proved to be an excellent hostess in recommending our menu choices.
It may be customary to order in a Tom Yum Soup when dining in a Thai place. Stick to tradition and do order it at Tong Thai as well! The Tom Yum here is exceptionally good, and the balance of hot, sweet and sour played like a symphony on the palate. What an excellent start to the meal!
For starters, we went for the mixed platter that consisted of the following:
- Papaya Salad
- Purple Flower Duumplings
- Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Prawn Cakes
- Chicken Pandan
- Beef Satay
I found the papaya salad to be a little too dry for my liking, and wish the dressing had more of a tang to it. My favorites from the platter included the very pretty purple flower dumplings that had a savory-sweet hit on the palate, the very flavorful chicken pandan, and the moreishly meaty beef satay with the nutty-sweet satay sauce on the side.
When it comes to Thai curries, my all-time favorite is the Green Curry. At Tong Thai, they have it on the menu under the more exotic name of Gand Kiew Wan Gai. This decadently creamy coconut milk based curry scented with the exotic scent of sweet basil, was one of my favorites from the night.
And here’s the best part… whilst most Thai restaurants in the city serve minuscule portions of Thai Jasmine Rice on the side, at Tong Thai you get served unlimited rice with any curry ordered!
My husband’s favorite Thai dish is the very spicy, stir-fried flat rice-noodle concoction called Phad Ki Mao (which translates to ‘Drunken Noodles’ as the mere heat of the dish is supposed to knock out any signs of hangovers). Although it wasn’t listed on the menu, the Chef at Tong Thai was kind enough to accommodate and make it especially for him.
The noodles here are imported directly from Thailand, and are super soft in consistency. The fiery peppered sauce was absolutely delicious, and the Hubster gave it a huge thumbs-up!
From their ‘Grills’ section, our hostess Manee insisted we should try the Kung Yang Phuket. This is a plater of very photogenic, plump Tiger Prawns served with garlic and a special lime sauce. The garlic-lime hit with the seafood took me back to our foodie adventures around Thailand many years ago. I really have to make a trip back soon!
We also had a serving of Nua Phad Prik Gaeng, a very flavorful and decadently scented plateful of stir-fried Wagyu beef, eggplant, long beans, coconut shoot and young green peppercorns.
Being a lover for beefy goodness, my Hubby noted this as his favorite from the night.
Apart from the decadent lineup of delicious Thai food, Tong Thai also has a very exotic listing for drinks.
If you love the scent of exotic Thai herbs, the Virgin Thaijito is a must-try. This mocktail consists of lemongrass, ginger, lime wedges, brown sugar and ginger ale. They also have an alcohol version.
I love Thai Milk Tea, and was super excited to find it on the Tong Thai menu. Not many places serve this sweet, milky Thai tea here in the UAE.
We ended our meal with one of my all-time favorite Thai desserts; the Tab Tim Grob. This traditional treat consists of water chestnut rubies and jackfruit served in sweetened coconut milk and lashings of shaved ice. This dessert is all at once refreshing, light and fruity. Definitely prefer it over the more filling Thai Mango Sticky Rice.
Overall, Tong Thai was a treat for the entire senses. From the very artistically done-up interiors to the decadent lineup of culinary delights (many of which are not easily found in the UAE), Tong Thai is an experience not to be missed.
Tong Thai is located on the 1st Floor of JW Marriott Marquis (Sheikh Zayed Rod, near the Dubai Canal). For more information on Tong Thai or to make a table reservation, give them a call on 04 414 3000. Bon appetit!