Yes a Thai Thali.
It may not sound as up market as Table de Hote but thats exactly what it is, give or take. I like the Table De Hote (TDH) menus at weekdays . One because I dont have to THINK as what I need to order. Two , because it gives you a nice wide menu range. Three , because its great value for money. Husband is even more delighted because he doesnt have to see me play tic tac toe on the menu, and then recall the waiter to change the tac to a toe.
At Rs. 350 for a starter , soup, main course , side dish and a dessert , its a steal. Plus a lemon ginger soda as a welcome drink .
The one thing I must say about Benjarong is that the combination of flavors are marvelous to the tongue , and the presentation very pleasing to the eye. The entrance to the restaurant, ( you go up to the lift to the 3rd Floor and then strangely descend down by the stairs to the dining area )its elegant decor , warm welcome, the lady carving fruits on a long table, exquisitely clad in traditional Thai gear, the soft music. As I said the ambience is excellent .Service is quiet and unobtrusive while being efficient. I cant argue with that combination.
The starter ( I call it a Thai Bhel paan combo is magnificent ) Crisp green Lettuce leaves piled on one side , and tiny bowls of finely chopped onion, Thai ginger, red chili ,roasted grated coconut, lime, roasted peanuts and a sour sweet tamarind sauce. One of each is wrapped into the lettuce leaf ad crunched up , much a you would a savory paan. And each condiment taste rolls out through every bite its sour , chili, warm, sweet , crunchy and bitter . Thats the fastest wrapping of lettuce have ever seen!
The starters come soon after our equivalent of the tandoori chicken, but wrapped in a geometrical fold within a crisp leaf. You unwrap it and paired with the exquisite papaya salad on the plate , there is another dish thats gone just right.
The Tom Yum soup with its succulent prawns and melting mushrooms were a delight too. The sour robustness of it reminded me of the effect that hot spicy rasam has on you . Puritans will now start a conscientious objection , but I am entitled to draw parallels, excuse me ! I sobbed into my napkin several times always a great sign , as I believe until the chili doesnt bring tears to your eyes , the meal is just a flash in the pan. Yes, the napkin was very useful, thank you .
The sliced fish with pepper sauce came next. Ah. Steamed fish pieces briefly crisply fried before being doused with a peppery basil sauce , and then covered with spring onions and fried basil what a melding of tastes . The rice and Thai Red curry were next and dependable and filling as always.
The dessert choice of date pancakes with ice cream or coconut pumpkin custard was easy . However ghastly the latter sounded , I see this as the real McCoy , and you must have a taste. The warmness of the toasted coconut melted subtly into the creaminess of the pumpkin flavored custard creating an overall nutty yet mildly sweet after taste that is a winner . The spouse was looking moodily into his (now not so nice by comparison) date pancakes. I allowed him a spoonfull of my dessert , and life was good again.
A flavorful meal, great ambience , efficient service , and value for money. What more could one ask for ?
Thali or otherwise , its a simple decision to make .