Last weekend, I felt like I traveled to Thailand and back! And it wasn't just an ordinary trip, it was grand!
Ed and I had our weekend dinner in Benjarong; a highly commended Thai restaurant at the 24th floor of Dusit Thani in Sheikh Zayed Road. It's actually a dream come true for me. I have been eyeing the uniquely shaped Dusit Thani hotel in my travel guide book before I came to Dubai seven years ago, so during our first wedding anniversary Ed took me to the hotel for a dinner date. It was because I dropped hints non-stop of course. Heh. But it was at The Californian - Dusit Thani Dubai's international buffet restaurant.
The Californian is lovely, yet I couldn't help but notice the restaurant adjacent to it. I came to know that it is Benjarong - the hotel's signature restaurant which has won various restaurant awards! So, I wrote it in my long foodie list, and I happily ticked it off last weekend!
|Benjarong in Dusit Thani Dubai|
The Royal Ambiance
Benjarong is every inch majestic! The restaurant is patterned to the royal dining halls of King Rama IV. We felt like royals the moment we entered the intricately carved wooden door. A staff warmly guided us to our table as we gawk at the very detailed interior - magnificent pillars, regal dark wood furniture, perfect subdued lighting.
We were seated near the stage where Thai musicians and dancers perform from time to time. They delivered the finest cultural entertainment! When the performers are not on stage, the restaurant is filled with classical Thai music! The atmosphere is thoroughly relaxing to the senses. At one point, we even felt we were in a spa. We're weird, I know, but try closing your eyes and listen to the calm music when you're there. :)
The most amazing part was when I gazed through the window and saw Burj Khalifa from a distance. Surely, seeing the king of all skyscrapers instead of a Thai temple burst my bubble and made me realize that I'm not in Bangkok, yet it dawned on me that I don't need to travel far to experience authentic Thai atmosphere!
|Benjarong's majestic reception|
|imperial dining hall|
|classic Thai dance|
The Royal Thai Cuisine
Ed and I were introduced to the remarkable flavours of Royal Thai Cuisine in Benjarong. The award-winning restaurant serves Thai dishes highlighting centuries-old recipes; the same dishes that the royalties devour in their palaces!
We started with Benjarong's welcome dish - an edible leaf filled with nuts, dried prawns, dried coconut, spices and a special sauce. It's amusing how that tiny dish is packed with a variety flavors and textures! As for the drinks, Ed had a lemongrass drink while I heartily sipped fresh coconut juice from the shell!
|Benjarong's welcome dish|
|fresh coconut juice|
|Coconut juice from the shell. Perfect!|
I wanted to start my meal warm and classic; hence I ordered Tom Yum Gai Rue Goong. Benjarong's Tom Yum is incomparable to all the Tom Yum's I had before. It is mild spicy (I personally asked for it!), but with a big bold flavor that is traditionally Thai!
Ed and I shared a platter of appetizers. We had Khong Wang Ruammit Benjarong - a platter of prawn cake, rice cracker, shrimp parcel, vegetable spring roll, and chicken pandanus served with four different types of sauces. The five-of-a-kind appetizer plate originally has fish cake instead of prawn, but since the latter is well-recommend and I love prawns, I decided to go for it. It's great to be given options like that!
All five appetizers were a delight to the taste buds. I found comfort in the rice crackers and prawn cakes - no frills but delish! The spring rolls and shrimp parcel are perfectly crispy on the outside and flavorful inside. And what I love the most is the juicy and aromatic chicken wrapped in pandan leaves.
|Tom Yum with prawns|
|Benjarong's appetizer platter|
When I went to Dusit Thani's Iftar last Ramadan season, I was introduced to Gaeng Phed Ped Yang in the buffet. It's soooo good that I told myself it's the dish I'm definitely having when I get the chance to dine at Benjarong! So be it! I ordered Benjarong's specialty dish without even checking the menu.
Gaeng Phed Ped Yang is an exquisite dish traditionally served in special events in Thailand. It is made of roasted duck in red curry with pineapples, tomatoes and grapes! It is rich in flavor; from the savory duck meat to the unique concoction in the sauce with a spicy note!
We also had Pu Nim Phad Prig Thai Dum - crispy battered soft shell crab smothered with black pepper sauce. Delicious seafood meets classic oriental flavor! The sauce is a little piquant for my liking, but over all, it's a scrumptious dish! I must commend the serving size as well, I think it's enough for a group of four!
|the best-seller: Gaeng Phed Ped Yang|
|soft shell crab in black pepper sauce|
|Both are perfect with steamed white rice!|
To end our meal, we had our all-time favorite Thai dessert Khao Neaw Mamuang - sticky rice flavored with pandanus served with mango. It's a classic!
We also shared a serving of Tap Tim Krob - ruby water chestnuts in iced coconut milk. Now this was the surprise! The sparkling red chestnuts in a creamy concoction is so good that Ed and I had a tug-of-war with the dessert bowl! Who won? Uhhm, me of course. Lesson learned, we'll order two bowls next time.
|tea and desserts (How lovely is this tea set?)|
|a classic sticky rice with mango|
|Tap Tim Krob|
The Royal Service
Ed and I received a Wai (Thai greeting) from every staff we met. They are so warm and friendly, and it's amazing how they attend to all the requests in a graceful manner. To top it all, Benjarong's Chef de Cuisine - Chef Naruemol Poolkuan went to dining hall to greet us! Her dishes are well-loved by the royals in Thailand and I'm so honored to be given the chance to meet her up close!
|with Chef Naruemol Poolkuan|
Tom Yum Gai Rue Goong: 60 AED
Khong Wang Ruammit Benjarong: 119 AED
Gaeng Phed Ped Yang: 95 AED
Pu Nim Phad Prig Thai Dum: 125 AED
Khao Neaw Mamuang: 50 AED
Tap Tim Krob: 40 AED
Sheikh Zayed Road
Contact # 04 343 3333