Pai Thai is somewhat of an institution among both Dubai foodies and unapologetic romantics alike.
As Thai restaurants go, this one has long since been established as the best in the region and for very good reason; It’s won numerous awards for its outstanding cuisine and impossibly beautiful setting.
Nestled along the charming waterways of Al Qasr Hotel, your culinary journey to the kitchens of Thailand begins by taking a traditional (and really quite fun) abra boat along the tranquil waters that make up this impressive and extensive hotel.
Greeted with a cold towel and a hospitable smile, you’re guided through to either the traditional interior of the restaurant or the dimly lit outdoor terrace which, if weather allows you absolutely must experience. With unrivaled views out onto the water and towards the iconic Burj Al Arab that’s lit up like the Dubai beacon that it is, it’s almost hard to imagine a more picturesque setting for dinner.
With an impressive menu that takes inspiration from Thailand’s gastronomic traditions, Pai Thai has also recently introduced diners to a number of new Thai classics, each featuring a unique twist with that all important added ‘Zing’.
The menu itself is as extensive as the hotel that it resides within, with page after leather-bound page of exotic, authentic dishes designed to cater to each and every preference. There’s seafood and spicy delights from the South of the country alongside the popular sticky rice dishes of Northern Thailand, each mouth-watering item causing curious diners to crane their necks at their neighbours fare, before deciding what to order next. Pai Thai is all about indulgence so arrive hungry.
We began our foodie adventure with some mixed dim sum. This dish is great for sharing and features a generous combination of chicken, prawn, vegetable and sesame lotus ball, all dipped in soy sauce and eaten with the ‘not-compulsory-but-recommended’ chopsticks. The trick is not to fill up too much on the entrees, although this is much easier said than done. The new Pha Talay, a zesty mixed seafood salad with chili paste, lemongrass, garlic and kaffir lime leaves is a notable new addition to the salad menu and a great, light way to start off your meal. For warming your insides, the crab meat soup with coconut shoots, garlic, onion, carrot and oyster sauce is also a fantastic choice albeit somewhat heartier.
The main courses are vast in their options; from wok-fried dishes to succulent curries, the choice is seemingly endless, which makes a welcome change to one-page menus. As a sort of middle ground, the new Phad Phed Nuea is a wok-fried beef red curry that is created with long beans, Thai eggplant, coconut shoots, green peppers, corn, red chilies and sweet basil.
For fish lovers the Chu Chee Pla is a deliciously creamy curry that’s every bit as fiery as it’s deep red colour thanks to the addition to some super hot chillis. I was told by the restaurant manager himself, who took the time to speak to each and every guest, that this is a dish to try if you’re seeking a touch of the traditional.
Meat lovers are also in good company for the Ped Thod Ka Prow Grob or cripsy duck to you and I, is deep marinated in garlic and chilli and served in a hot basil sauce and a dish not to be missed. It’s not all spice however, the Gaeng Massaman Nuea is a much milder braised Massaman beef curry that has a coconut milk base and is served with sweet potato and peanuts and signifies the amazingly creamy and milder dishes that have been copied around the world.
We also tried the Gai Phad Med Ma Muang, wok fried crispy chicken with cashew nuts, spring onion,dried chili and oyster sauce which is a great introductory dish for Thai cuisine novices as well as the signature dish Gaeng Khiew Wan Gai, the green chicken curry with Thai eggplant and coconut shoots.
If you can’t bear to tear yourself away from the amazing view that this restaurant offers and our guess is you won’t be able to, then the desert menu offers both modern and traditional options. The Ya Leum Chan is an aesthetically wonderful mango based desert, a combination of panacota, pomegranate, raspberry and dragon fruit. For a more traditional take on Thai afters, the Tap Tim Krob is equally as mouth-watering once you’ve got your head around exactly what it is: Crispy Water Chestnut is coated in sugar syrup and coconut milk, served over crushed ice.
There are not many restaurants in the world that you want to visit time and time again, not only for the efficiency of service but for the views and for high-end traditional cuisine that takes pride in its roots and brings it to the menu in a modern and innovative way. Add to that, some of the best views in Dubai and Pai Thai is really something special.
Now, each weekend (Friday and Saturday) diners can enjoy a true feast over lunch. The Feast of Xahar at Pai Thai is a brunch with a difference. With a ‘quality’ food selection as opposed to the frequent beverage-based brunches we find (and occasionally love) in Dubai, The Feast of Xahar gives hungry-diners unlimited ordering options of Thai classics such as Tom Yum Goong soup and Gaeng Panang Talay curry.
The Feast of Xahar is every Friday and Saturday 12-3pm at Pai Thai, Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah. To reserve call 04 432 3232 or email email@example.com.
Priced at AED 195 per person every Friday and Saturday.
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