Eat it while it’s still hot!
As the trend is towards integration, flavours and fragrances have been integrated too in most dine out places. But the palate sometimes needs a break from the fusions and the mixes. So, Neung Roi, with its truly Thai flavours, comes as a welcome relief. Adding to the spirit is the yellow and amber ambience with pleasant service.
The menu encompasses food from the four main regions of Thailand—Isan, Lanna, Isthmus of Kra and Central Plains. So I went with the chef’s recommendation.
As I have travelled a little in South East Asia, I do know that greens are the mainstay of most foods in this part of the world along with exotic citrus fruits. There’s less use of salt, dips and lime are common along with seafood. And I wasn’t disappointed as I found these in abundance on the table.
I tried different kinds of salads and Thai names are not easy to remember if you aren’t a native. Which I obviously am not! To go through the list of confusing names–Phad Tuea Hrong, Yam Mamuang, Yam Som-O, Thod Man Goong and Krachai Gab Goong. Don’t let these baffle you as you try to make your choice. The ingredients are listed under each name and the server can guide you through very well.
It’s much easier to remember the way the descriptions went–Wok Fried Tofu, Bean Sprout & Chives with Soya sauce; Raw Mango salad with Cashewnut; Pomelo Salad with Crispy Onion, Garlic & Palm Sugar Tamarind Dressing; Shrimp Cake served with Chilli Dip and Stir Fried Prawn with Wild Ginger & Shallot. While, it was the Pomelo which took my heart, I found the ingredients well used in all. The lime, the subtle blends of juices made them easy to eat and tasty.
Tom Yum Pla or the spicy and sour fish soup with mushrooms, lemongrass, kaffir lime and galangal was quite a treat. Time flew by and the server even offered to get me some hot starters as we kept chatting and the food had grown a little cold.
Going by the Thai names–Phad Pak Krapow, Phad Tueafugyaow, Pla Neung Manao, Gai Phad Krapow—the main course sounds equally puzzling. But simply put, it was a lot of green, well cooked fried rice and yummy minced chicken with long beans in hot basil and dark soya sauce. The vegetables were fresh and sauces lightly used. Nothing about the food was heavy. Above all, no Punjabi flavour could be found anywhere unlike most places in the northern part of the country. I enjoyed the green beans with garlic and soya sauce. It’s been a long time since I ate so much green in one place.
The meal ended on a sweet note with Tub Tim Krob which means water chestnut in coconut jasmine syrup. And this needs to stirred first and is a pleasant delight.
Another interesting thing is that the knife used for Thai food is different from the ones used for other cuisines.
As I had a little time to kill before moving on, there was green tea and then some ayurvedic tulsi and mint tea at the lounge.
Neung Roi comes as a delight and eating at your own pace in relaxing surroundings adds to the experience. Morever, it’s located in a five-star property which is situated close to the airport, so you could have a lovely meal before flying out or vice versa.
The four Thai regions
Isan or the northeast: The dishes are bold and spicy. Home to the Thai culinary masterpiece Som Tum, the food is hot and uses lime and salt to balance the dishes and is marked by an abundance of salads, dips, broths, grilled and cured meat.
Lanna or the north: means ‘One million fields. The main characteristics are hot and salty. Lanna cuisine is bereft of the oft used ingredients in other Thai regional cuisines like fish sauce, shrimp paste or coconuts.
Isthmus of Kra or south: Cuisine here is influenced by culinary styles of neighbouring Myanmar, Malaysia and coastal India. The region has abundance of seafood and fresh produce. Availability of varieties of chilies makes the food of this region the spiciest in Thailand. However, abundant use of coconut cream, along with astringent turmeric, sour fruits and salted relishes render a perfect balance to the dishes.
Central Plains: The cuisine has a broader range of flavours and dishes. Though hot and salty are the dominant tastes, the use of a broader range of seasoning leads to multiple flavours, textures and tastes in a single dish.