Who would have thought that blogging about a Thai Restaurant will be my first blog for 2015, but the moment I arrived back in Dubai I received an invitation from Dusit Thani Hotel here in Dubai to try out the Crab Craze promotion of their signature Thai Restaurant, Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine. I must admit that I am not a big fan of crabs (I know I know I know, shame on me) but I love Thai food, so declining the invitation was not an option. Plus it was part of TimeOut’s 5 things to do today in Dubai, so the answer was a big YES.
Crab Craze is Benjarong’s offering to their patrons for the month of January (available from Sat-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm till the 31st of January 2015). Their in -house ‘Celebrity Chef Status (Chef to the Royalties), Chef Narue Mol Poolkuan, prepared a selection of 6 crab inspired dishes, of course all cooked in traditional Thai flair.
I have been to Bangkok and Phuket, and Thai cuisine became one of my favorite dishes in the world. Trying to mask my jetlagged-self, I ran to Dusit Thani Hotel along Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road dreaming of all of my Thai favorites.
The decor of the whole restaurant is what I have expected it to be. Not only their chef brought the ‘Royal’ tag in their name, but also their decor will bring you to a very opulent Thai Palace Hall. I love how rich but intimate it looks.
As I was ushered to my seat (in a table full of my blogger friends), I was served with this little canapé-ish dish called Mieng Kam (I think it is their way to prepare you on what’s going to happen). I gobbled it in one bite, rolled the leaf and it just vanished into thin air ( on the way to my belly). As expected, it was a mixture of different spices topped with shredded coconut, all on top of a leaf which I forgot to ask what kind ( if you dine here, please pass the information to me). Plus the fresh coconut juice as a welcome drink was no doubt was very refreshing.
After a few minutes of playing catching up with my blogger friends and Dan elle who is the marketing manager of Dusit, we were then served with 2 appetizer dishes. First was the Pu-Ja ( Deep fried crab meat and minced chicken in a crab shell with sweet chili sauce – 35 AED) which is one of my favorites in the selections. If you like meat balls, for sure you will like it. If you like fried things dipped in sweet chili sauce, for sure you will like this as well…ME I LIKE BOTH! For those who are lazy to open/crack a crab just to get the meat, this is a sure pick.
Another dish we were presented for an appetizer is the Som Tum Punim (Spicy green papaya salad with crispy soft shell crab -45 AED). I am not a fan of green papaya (we have dish in the Philippines called ‘Atsara’ and I am not a fan) but with my new love for discovering/rediscovering food I found that things that I normally don’t eat are fairly good (yesterday I discovered that Kimchi is actually tolerable). So I took a first bite, and whoala–I loved it!. I think among the bloggers in the table, I ate the most portion of Som Tum Punim. They said that it tasted like Atsara with soft shelled crabs of course. Now I need give Atsara another try.
After all the appetizers, the host asked us if we are ready for the main courses, with our tummy almost full, it was surprising that we answered YES immediately.
After a few moments, tray loads of aromatic dishes arrived. We have a total of five main dishes to try (one of it is a bonus and crab-less….try to guess which one). We were served:
Gaeng Som Puma Normai Dong – 70 AED
Hot and sour curry with blue crab and sour bamboo shoot
Pu Pad Prig Gaeng – 75 AED
Stir fried Alaska King Crab with red curry paste, string beans and sweet basil.
Sen Jun Pad Pu – 35 AED
Fried rice noodles with crab meat
Lon Pu-Kem – 65 AED
Salted crab in coconut cream dip served in vegetables.
Green curry chicken. (priceless :P)
The first main course I tried was the Gaeng Som Puma Normai Dong. It reminded me to the Hot and Sour soup that I always ordered in an Indian-Chinese restaurant in Satwa but this one has a lot more bamboo shoot. I really don’t like the smell of bamboo shoot but I find the taste interesting. If only I can pinch my nose while eating it. I can say this is tasty but not my favorite. Maybe lesser bamboo shoot next time (but apparently it is really an Asian thing, so I am sure my request will never see the light of day).
Most of the bloggers that I shared table with told me that the Pu Pad Prig Gaeng was their favorite. It was tasty and you can find every flavor that you are looking for in a Thai Cuisine in this dish. I love the sauce but I dread getting the meat in those crab legs (haha, but for sure I am the exemption as I know most of you are not as lazy as I am in cracking those legs open—and a lot of people find pleasure in doing so). If you are a crab lover, this dish should be on your table.
Now, it will not be an Asian party without noodles on the table! Am I correct or AM I C O R R E C T? This, I must say is one of my favorite dish. It reminded me of a milder version of Pad Thai. Lately I don’t eat white rice that much (I am controlling my carb intakes..LOL), but noodles is always an exception. I discovered a Korean noodle soup yesterday, I can’t wait to share the details with you guys! Ok back to Sen Jun Pad Pu, As I said, this became one of my favorite dishes and it will be shameful if I will not going to recommend this to you.
The last dish from the Crab Craze menu is the Lon Pu-Kem. It is a very simple dish (the way it looks like) but I know it was carefully mastered to achieve perfection (Naks! :P). So if I will rank all the dishes I tried, this simple dish is number one on my list. I don’t know if it’s the coconut cream in the sauce, but something about that sauce made everything perfect. Let’s not disregard the perfectly steamed vegetables as well. Crunchy and sweet!
Although the Lon Pu-Kem was the last dish in the Crab Craze menu, it was not the last main course that we tried. We were also served a Green Curry Chicken. Something that Thais should be proud of. I tried it once in Phuket, and since then, everytime I visit any Thai Restaurant, I always order this. If you are a fan of curry+coconut cream, this is a perfect dish for you.
Lastly, no meal will ever end without a good dessert. So we were given a selection of special desserts from their menu and I was curious with the ‘Assorted Benjaron Desserts’. You can also say that I was too lazy to think so I want to try a lot of varieties. My other blogger friends ordered the famous sticky rice with ripe mango, while another one ordered the water chestnut with coconut milk. When my dessert plate arrived, it was a mix of colorful mini dessert trinkets. These are Woon Groop, Ja Mongkut, Foi-Thong, Mieng Kam and Med- Kawoon. I really don’t know what are the ingredients for each but it was nice to taste each one of them. I was told that the assorted desserts are not fixed with only these selections, the mix changes daily. I think it is a nice surprise at the end of your meal.
All in all I really enjoyed dining here. The interior decoration is really intimate and I can see myself dragging my friends and enjoying a casual talk and catching up. It can be over the Crab Craze Menu but also over their regular offerings. Aside from Dusit Thani Hotel’s accessible location, Benjarong has a beautiful view of both Downtown Dubai on one side and the busy Sheikh Zayed road on the other. This place is truly one of the best places you can bring your loved ones or visitors to enjoy a lovely dinner with.
Crab Craze is only available throughout the month of January
To know more about Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine check out the information below:
Location: Benjarong Royal Thai Cuisine, 24th floor, Dusit Thani Dubai , 133, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
Available from: Sat-Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm