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Salathip – A Taste of Thai-ness

A river by your side along with a true Thai culinary experience, Salathip at the Shangri-La hotel, Bangkok, delights all senses

A river by your side along with a true Thai culinary experience, Salathip at the Shangri La Bangkok delights all senses.

Massage parlours, night markets and a lot of Thai food – that pretty much sums up your experience in the great city of Bangkok. Food enthusiasts like me will surely pay more heed to the culinary aspects of the city (and of course shopping – but which girl doesn’t?). And winning our heart and securing a high pedestal is Salathip, a Thai restaurant housed by Shangri La Bangkok, located right next to the Chao Phraya River.

Imagine a traditional Thai meal in a posh environment alongside a romantic river. Beautiful, isn’t it? Creating a scene straight from a quixotic movie, Salathip has a perfect setting with live dance performances, so its appeals and impresses on all levels. Shangri-la’s magnificent tropical gardens house this teak restaurant which is the ideal eating place for those who love local flavours. With a culinary experience taken care of by a brilliant team, merging with the nightly Thai classical dance performance as entertainment, it’s a complete night out, I’d say!

Guest, is everything
Namaste, Sawasdee Ka, and a warm smile later you are seated at your table with the napkins laid out on your lap. A look around the place showcases three teak-built pavilions or ‘saalas’, which means salons, featuring sophisticated and detailed handiwork, representing a celebration of Thai architecture and décor. The impressive structures situated by lush, tropical gardens, add to the culinary magnificence that the chef and the entire team (especially the manager) put on offer.

The traditional Thai performances hosted at the restaurant (7-10 pm throughout the week) will certainly keep you glued to the centre stage. And if you are lucky, they may even enact a story which is closely linked to Hindu culture! Don’t be surprised if they enact the Ramayana in front of your very eyes! Guests can relax indoors, or opt for al fresco dining by the river, which can get refreshing owing to a gentle, breezy atmosphere during the evening. The only drawback is the numerous mosquitoes, but who can blame them for wanting to enjoy the picturesque setting too?  Though there are mosquito coils placed under the table, the restaurant, in any case, amply makes up for any such nuisances.

With years of experience, Chef Tussanee Putkaew leads Salathip’s able team of chefs. Since joining as a Thai Chef de Cuisine in 2004, Tussanee has shared her love and skill for Thai cuisine at many Shangri-La properties overseas. So you can rest assured that she sure knows what she is doing, proof being food which is an absolute treat to the eyes and palate.

Food for the Gods
If you have ever cooked a dish, you know that the Thai wisdom in striking a delicate balance of flavours in each dish is renowned. Whether spicy, sour, sweet and salty or even ‘perfectly bland’, Thai food manages to top the most sought after cuisine list – and most sought after tastes! The blend of flavours punctuated with hints of lime and lemongrass add that zing to the dishes, making Thai food so delectable and unique. Salathip can easily be designated as one of the most delicious Thai restaurants in the world, and kudos to them for their innovativeness and ability to make you try dishes you would never eat otherwise! If you are a vegetarian, then this place will appeal to your cautious self, because they are not hesitant to alter any dish to suit your tastes (whether no spices or only vegetarian).

If this is your first visit to Thailand, the tradition of eating Thai food is different. Best shared with friends or family, the typical meal consists of rice ladled onto each plate and combinations of aromatic curries, stir-fries and other dishes served concurrently. Reminds us of the Indian way of eating… I opted for the Vegetarian Set Menu, which was fantastic in taste, but will fill you to the brim! Our recommendation – portions could have been slightly smaller.

The set menu is a good idea if you want to sample a variety of dishes. I started off with the Por Pia Jae, which is nothing but vegetarian Spring Rolls, accompanied by a honey and chilli dip, which is a burst of flavour on the palate. But since it is fried, you may want to control yourself! The Som Tam Jae (Green Papaya Salad) was delicious, succulent and crunchy, a perfect salad balancing sweet and sour. Following the true rules of Thai hospitality, they altered the dish keeping my allergy to peanuts in mind. The Tom Yam Hed (Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup with Lemongrass) stays true to its name and is actually quite ‘hot’ (read spicy). If you can take it, it’s the most delicious soup you will have ever had! The mushrooms melt in your mouth and offset the lemongrass in the soup.

For the main course, my set menu consisted of Gaeng Dang Tao Hoo, which is a Red Curry of Bean Curd with Sweet Basil. There was not much I could do to stop myself from shutting my eyes and enjoying the flavours in my mouth. This dish represents a perfect combination of authentic Thai cooking with every ingredient contributing to the overall essence of the dish. The curry is quite rich and can be paired with fluffy rice (either jasmine or brown) as and when you need some. Mushroom lovers will adore Phad Phak Ruam (Stir-fried Assorted Seasonal Mushrooms) which were practically melt-in-the-mouth! The Phad Kra Praow Jae (Stir-fried Vegetables with Garlic, Chilli and Basil) was an appealing end to the main course, as you make way for the dessert – Pollamai Ruam Mitr (seasonal fresh fruit platter).

Non-vegetarians can opt for the Seafood set menu or order a la carte. Freshness is guaranteed. You’ll instinctively feel that the chef has served you the freshest of catches! The Thord Mun Goong (Deep–fried Minced Shrimp and Herbs) were a burst of flavour and pleased the olfactory senses as much as the tastebuds. The Pla Thalay (Mixed Seafood with Spicy Thai Herbs) is an absolute seafood lovers dream with brilliant flavours that complement and offset each other at the same time. The Tom Yam Goong Lai Seua (Hot and Sour Tiger Prawn Soup with Lemongrass) has flavors that you may never have tasted before – if only you can handle the spices! The succulent pieces of prawns will leave you wanting more. I would recommend leaving this halfway as it is quite filling, and I’m assuming you want to taste as much of the delicious food as you can.

The Chu Chee Pla Salmon (Dry Red Curry of Salmon) fell a little short when it came to the fish (was a little chewy), but the flavour made up for where the former didn’t. The Poo Nim Phad Prik Thai Dahm (Stir-fried Soft Shell Crab in Black Pepper Sauce) was a surprise! Absolutely unique from anything else plated up on the table, it has a strong burst of pepper with the freshest crab one could eat. You can finish this off with a portion of Thai tea ice cream or mango and sticky rice!

Salathip manages to delight at all levels. At times, we weren’t sure where to put our focus on – the delectable, well-presented food or the gorgeous, interesting performances happening in front of us. The overall experience was so fantastic that it became one of our best fine dining experiences from across the world. A true Thai experience in every sense – the warm hospitality at Salathip balances the comfort of your own house along with the thrill of eating out. A trip to Thailand should definitely mean a trip to Salathip – whether for a business meeting or a romantic night out – or simply for a treat to your senses!

Coordinates: Shangri-La hotel, Bangkok, 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500, Thailand
Ph: (66 2) 236 7777

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