Saturday January 22, 2022

Thai cuisines in town

December 07, 2021

Jamila Achakzai

Islamabad: One of the most popular cuisines around the world, Thai food has gained popularity in the capital city over recent years for its zingy, zesty bold and vibrant flavours. With a plethora of herbs, spices and sauces, there’s no shortage of combinations to create several flavour profiles.

Islamabad-based Thai chef Thawaichai Saithong loves to create dishes that give the local diners a one-way ticket to his country. His deep connection with the culinary world dates back to his childhood. His odyssey began 40 years ago as he helped his mother cook in the kitchen who had a vast knowledge of making fresh and fragrant curries.

That’s when the spark was lit which propelled him to take charge of kitchens in five-star hotels. “I used to help my mother in the kitchen. I grew up being very close to her and even remember the first time I made Thai rice,” said Thaiwichai when ‘The News’ asked him about his relationship with his mother.

Basically from Ubon Ratchathani city of Thailand, Thaiwichai knew from an early age that cooking was going to play a big role in his life. When asked about his favourite childhood dishes, he immediately named Geang Phed Gai Makua Paung, a hot red curry of chicken in coconut milk, and Goong Phad Med Ma Muang, stir-fried prawns with cashew nuts, capsicum, onions, black mushrooms, and whole dry chillies.

The chef has featured these dishes on the menu of Islamabad Marriott Hotel’s Thai Royal Elephant restaurant to share a taste of home with his patrons. It’s no wonder that diners become regulars, looking forward to delicious meals in the welcoming atmosphere.

He didn’t take on cooking right away. He had to prove his value in the kitchen by assisting for quite some time. Gradually moving up the ranks through sheer determination and passion, he eventually made it as the head chef.

“Working at luxury hotels in Thailand and Lebanon provided me with a whole new level of experience and skills, which also helped to increase my knowledge,” he said. Thaiwichai said the menu at the Royal Elephant helped diners discover a full range of Thai culinary treasures through the interplay of local flavours and textures.

“Every dish has its history and is carefully prepared with the freshest ingredients to bring out the best combination of texture and taste to every bite,” he said. According to him, Pad Thai is very popular among Thai food lovers, but he would like them to go beyond that as Thai food has a lot of depth, flavour and variety.

As a visitor to his restaurant, the best way to start your evening is with ‘Gai Satay’. These marinated chicken strips are served with peanut sauce, and you can also order ‘Goong Hom Sa Bai’ on the side, which is deep-fried crispy prawns served with plum sauce.