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Neung Roi – A Thai Tribute

Presenting an incredible range of options and a fabulous experience, Neung Roi in New Delhi scores high on our fine dining chart. A mental note – we definitely want to go back to try the rest of the vast menu!

Presenting an incredible range of options and a fabulous experience, Neung Roi in New Delhi scores high on our fine dining chart. A mental note – we definitely want to go back to try the rest of the vast menu!

Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi – these define Thailand for us well-heeled Indians. And when it comes to Thai cuisine, very few might have ventured beyond the quintessential Thai Green Curry and Jasmine Rice.

Though I thoroughly enjoy Thai cuisine, I confess to having limited knowledge of it. And to brush up on that, we went to the newly opened Neung Roi at Radisson Blu Plaza in Mahipalpur, New Delhi. And quite honestly, we were astounded by the sheer variety they showcased!

A learning process
Dividing Thailand into four major zones, Neung Roi draws inspiration from Isan or the north east; Lanna or the north; the Isthmus of Kra or South; and the Central Plains. While the dishes from Isan are uncompromisingly bold and spicy, Lanna serves cuisine minus the typical Thai ingredients like fish sauce, shrimp paste or coconuts. Isthmus of Kra is known for its seafood and fresh produce while cuisine from the Central Plains amalgamates all the tastes and offers a broader range of flavours and dishes as compared to other parts of Thailand.

Entering the restaurant, which is in proximity from the lobby, you will be instantly bathed in a golden glow, which emerges from the many diyas that are placed near the entrance, and soft, muted lighting which focuses on the centre of each table. The lighting is not too dim, nor too blinding, but comfortable enough to relax you and make you lose track of time! The décor is luxurious without being intimidating. Your eyes will keep flicking to the live kitchen time-to-time to absorb the action going on there.

Placing an interactive iPad menu in our hands, we recommend you take a good amount of time to study it, because the menu is also divided as per the four regions, with each region flaunting its own entire menu (from appetizers to desserts), accompanied by inviting photographs. And if that ends up confusing you, like it did us, simply share your taste and meat preferences with the servers, and Chef Yenjai Suthiwaja will recommend a menu for you.

Delicious welcome
As we excitedly chattered away, the server quietly placed a refreshing welcome drink of apple and khus syrup which had a slight hint of ginger too. We found ourselves sipping it throughout the lunch, so wonderful it was! This was followed up by a delightful little amuse bouche, where a betel leaf was topped with a mix of dry coconut, peanut, lemon segment, chopped salad, ginger, chilly, tamarind and palm sugar sauce. We rolled it up like the Indian paan and took it in. The amazing blend of flavours set the tone of the rest of the lunch aptly, because our expectations and excitement had risen quite high!

Each of the appetizers impressed us quite well. My companion found the Gai Yang – Grilled Chicken with coriander roots and roasted chilli sauce – quite delicious. The chicken was fresh, and crispy from outside while soft inside. The sauce did ample justice to the chicken by giving it a tangy, spicy flavour.

Tod Man Khao Pod – corn fritters with sweet chilli sauce – though a usual dish, appealed to us to no end. We found ourselves wiping the cone (in which the fritters were served) clean. Hot, golden and crispy, it is the perfect appetizer which will surely delight all taste buds. The pomelo salad – Yam Som-O – with crispy onion, garlic and palm sugar tamarind dressing, reminded us of the amuse bouche, only tangier and fresher. The taste of each individual ingredient came out very well. Sprinkled with peanuts too, it gave a crunchy twist to the salad as well.

We downed the appetizers with light soups which were tantalizing to say the least. While I had the Tom Yum Pak – spicy and sour vegetable soup with lemongrass, kaffirlime and galangal – my companion had the Tom Yum Gai, which was similar to my soup, except that it had chicken and mushroom too. Spicy on the higher side, the watery soups were comforting and soothing. Served in white, dainty little pots, they made a charming, contrasting image too!

A tempting journey
Main course bought more delectable dishes in front of us. Pla Ha Rod – fried fish in a homemade five flavour sauce and fresh coriander – found much favour with my companion. Despite the other dishes served, she kept returning to it! The slightly sweet and thick sauce blended well with the fish, giving it a good flavour, while the crispies added another unique dimension to the dish.

We both thoroughly savoured Gaeng Kiew Wan Pak – mixed vegetables in Thai green curry – and took multiple helpings of it. Non spicy, with a rich texture and a strong taste of coconut, the curry was authentic and pure. This curry will make you shake your head sadly at the cheaper, diluted versions of Thai green curry you have probably endured at many restaurants, and promise yourself never to go back to them.

Phad Pak Kiew – stir fried Kale with morning glory, pokchoy, soya bean sauce, garlic and pepper – made a refreshing, green picture. Though a distinctive recipe, considering that Kale is not too common in the Delhi dining scene, it was a tad bit too salty for our taste. All the dishes were paired with Jasmine rice, which was served hot and fluffy, making it the perfect accompaniment with all.

While we lunched, the genial atmosphere made conversation easy, with the non-intrusive staff silently making sure our plates were filled up at all times, and the required crockery was always in place. Being knowledgeable about the dishes, they gave us quick explanations too about each one they served.

Pleasantly full with a comfortable buzz around us, we were served our dessert soon. Served innovatively with the outer glass having ice and the inner one holding the dessert, Tub Tim Krob – water chestnut in coconut jasmine syrup – looked as beautiful as it tasted. Not too heavy on the stomach, and actually helping us to digest all that food, the dessert enchanted us to the core. The chestnuts were coated with strawberry, thus giving it a flavour of that fruit too. We couldn’t stop sipping on it till homemade coconut ice-cream was placed in front of us. Again, well-made, the shreds of coconut in the ice-cream proved its authenticity. A fitting end to a perfect Thai lunch!

Neung Roi scores on all aspects and makes a meal at the restaurant an ideal experience. And why not? The bubbly Chef Suthiwaja ensures that everything is in order. She recounts that her job was to create an authentic Thai menu, and she hasn’t compromised on that. Some ingredients are, in fact, flown in from Thailand. “Whether you bring them from Indonesia or the INA market (which has all ingredients), they don’t have that Thai taste,” she says. As Chef Suthiwaja bid us goodbye with a cheerful “Namaste”, folded hands and ear-to-ear smile, we stepped out in the rainy day with well-fed stomachs and happy hearts.

Coordinates: Neung Roi, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Mahipalpur, Delhi NCR, India