What I love most about Thai food is their romance with flavours. Lemongrass and coconut. Meat and vegetables. Rice and curry. They all make for a perfect joint family scenario when they land on your taste buds.
Meaning ‘mangroves’, Pachaylen is an authentic Thai restaurant situated in the heart of the Eastern Mangroves Resort & Spa Abu Dhabi. You will walk in and feel like you have entered a royal dining room, with ceilings so high that your mouth may split wide open by the time you see the end of the wooden panels that wrap the walls. There is no view, because the restaurant is situated within the hotel, covered by high walls.
The lighting is moderate, lit enough to see what you are eating but not sufficiently to take photographs on your phone sans the flash.
The staff are friendly. It is amazing to watch them scurry about, dexterously serving table after table in perfect composure and ease, clad in thick Thai silk! Different variants of the traditional Thai style of dressing is displayed by the staff at the restaurant. Either the long wrap around skirt or cloth twisted and tucked around the waist to form loose, fluffy, knee-length trousers.
The ambience at the restaurant is soothing. Thai instrumental music plays in the background, ever so lightly, with the staff going about their business. An open kitchen shows the chefs busy whipping up the orders in a disciplined rhythm. Incidentally, the day we chose to dine at this fine restaurant, our co-diners were also mostly couples.
The drinks menu has a fair list of cocktails, wines and stronger alcohol options as well as a range of mocktails and Thai iced teas. When visiting a Thai restaurant, it is mandatory that you either try one of the flavoured iced teas, or a drink that is infused with lemon grass. It is as essential as butter in the chicken at an Indian restaurant.
The food menu is experimental. I would have much enjoyed meeting the Chef and learning about how he planned his menu but I missed that opportunity during my staycation at the resort. Calls for another trip, not too far away in the future.
For starters, we had vegetable spring rolls. Chicken tom yum soup and ‘butterfly pea flower-shaped chicken dumplings’ – yes, this is what they are called. The rolls were great, the soup wasn’t spicy enough and dim sums did not taste as good as they looked.
Kai Phad Bai Kra Prao – stir-fried spicy chicken with garlic, chili and wild basil. This was served with three kinds of rice options – plain white rice, brown rice and wheat. The brown rice may not suit every palate. It might require an acquired taste bud to appreciate the dish. The chili was not generous – in quantity and the hotness level – lesser the chili, lesser the spice, and hence lesser the happiness.
For seafood lovers, the Plah Khung Yang is a good choice. The dish is a combination of tiger prawns with fresh herbs, chili, lemon grass and lime dressing.
What is a trip to a Thai restaurant without one of their quintessential choices – a Thai curry? And I chose the green curry, of course.
Dessert was dangerous. The sound of it and the killer taste. Named Poh Pia Kluay Todd – fried banana spring rolls. There is no symbiosis there, between the name and the description, but please believe me when I say it was Del-ee-shyus.
Where: Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara
Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 2 656 1000
Note – The critic was invited by Anantara Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.