Enjoy Regional Specialties of Thai Cuisine at Siam Trading Company

My introduction to Thai food was as a teenager, and over the years, it has grown to become one of my most favored cuisines, helped in no small part by having a Thai roommate and best friend for four years of college, during which we ate at Thai restaurants and I also got to enjoy home cooking and goodies from Thailand, which she brought back every fall. During my time on the west coast, I had about half a dozen Thai restaurants within a few miles of my place, and would pick which of them to eat at, depending on whether I was in the mood for Larb, Pad Thai, a Thai curry, or a Thai basil stir fry. Fast forward a decade, and I found myself back in the homeland, and made my first of many trips to Bangkok to visit the friend and her family, and got introduced to even more of the cuisine!

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Bangalore has some restaurants that serve good Thai food, many of which have Thai dishes amongst a Pan-Asian selection. But a place dedicated to Thai food, with an owner-Chef at the helm who has traveled extensively across Thailand, and brought back memories, recipes, and techniques – well, that’s definitely a treat, as a recent meal at Siam Trading Company proved! Chef Thashvin Muckatira (Holy Cow Hospitality) has his finger in many pies, but Siam is, I would say, the cherry on top. A curated meal (by Ruth of Bangalore’s Restaurants) that led a select group of bloggers and foodies through specialties from Thailand, is one that we will continue to savor and talk about for some time. This was a meal for non-vegetarians, though the restaurant has enough to keep veg diners happy too.

We began the proceedings with Grey Goose cocktails, and I found the Grey Goose Le Fizz to be my favorite, and that was my accompaniment for the meal. A Som Tum salad live counter had us grabbing plates of the tangy green papaya salad with shrimp as we waited to sit down to lunch. The first course was Beef and Rambutan Soup, and Chilled Mushroom & Young Coconut Soup, both of which were flavorful and fragrant delights. Carambola & Prawn Salad, featuring starfruit and grilled prawn in a spicy and sour dressing was next, and I doubt you’ll see this on any other menu in town. Then came Basil Prawns served with peanut sauce and Pandan wrapped Chicken, with banana leaf substituting for the difficult to source Pandan. Didn’t in any way harm the flavor, and both dishes were polished off in no time.

Things were beginning to get more exciting, with Steamed Lotus Stem garnished with whole cloves of garlic and Chinese wine, as well as a fabulous Sour Beef which had been fermented in-house, making an appearance. Spicy, sour, and again with garlic cloves, this one was hard to stop eating! Homemade pork sausage was something I was looking forward to, having eaten this Northeastern Thai prep (known as Naem) for breakfast and in fried rice and even carting back a couple pounds of it on one of my trips…this version, while nice, especially given its rarity, did not have the tang and spice blast I was expecting. But the fact that Chef is curing and prepping it right in the kitchen is quite something!

Crispy Fish with Mango Salad was next, and the delicate raw mango and talapia flavors were balanced so well. The next dish had the distinction of shutting us all up, and also had us asking for seconds: Grilled Pork Neck with a spicy lime dressing. Already quite full, we still made space for the Dry Noodles with Pork and Prawns (I loved this dish and the pork fat infused flavors with the shiitake mushrooms and greens adding dimension) and the Chiang Mai Chicken Curry and Sticky Rice (also known as Burmese curry, this one was heavy on the spices and a perfect main course). The meal ended with two popular Thai desserts – Sticky Rice with Mango and Rubies (Tum Tim Krob in Thai) which is water chestnuts in sweetened coconut milk. Unfortunately, neither of the desserts lived up to past experience or the expectation based on the rest of the meal. But desserts aside, this was a spectacular meal of epic proportions and made me yearn for another trip to Thailand!

Bombay Brasserie comes to Town

As a teenager, on a visit to Bombay, my parents and I were taken to a restaurant called Bombay Brasserie, and I recall it being upscale and with good food. So, when I heard that an eatery of the same name was opening in Bangalore, I wondered, “any relation”? Turns out yes, the Bombay Brasserie that resides in a beautiful old bungalow on Indiranagar’s 12th Main, is, indeed, a revamped outlet of the same Bombay chain, though that city no longer has one. Now, Indiranagar is absolutely the place to open a restaurant in Bangalore, and what with 100 Ft. road having reached saturation, 12th Main has taken over as the go-to real estate.

The entrance, as with the interiors is all white and blues, with accents in bright colors including flowering pots and vivid mosaic flooring. Seating is both indoors and outdoors, and since we were there on a sunny and beautiful January afternoon, we chose to sit outside. A good decision, since it made for great photographs, and was the perfect setting for a ladies who lunch moment. Nothing like good food, cocktails, and a pretty setting to make for two very happy ladies! Like the menu, the table too was in hues of orange and blue. This is one place which I would recommend visiting in the daytime just so you can appreciate the beauty and brightness of the decor and the space.

We started the afternoon off with the establishment’s signature Pauwa (quarter) cocktails, with the drink presented in a cool looking 180ml bottle with a tag announcing its name, and a big glass tumbler to pour it into. I knew even before I visited what my first drink would be, having spied pictures of the Nagpuri Santra, a concoction of orange and citrus, and immediately wanting one! It was citrusy and refreshing and a good way to start the proceedings. My dining companion ordered the Janta Bar, a spicy drink with whisky, coke, chili and chaat masala, and she loved it.

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Each Pauwa cocktail is accompanied by a serving of ‘chakna’, aka snack food, adding to the feel of ordering a quarter and some snacks at the local bar! In much more rarefied surroundings, of course. I liked both the peanut masala and the black channa that came with our drinks. Next time I visit I will order the Memsaab’s favourite pink gin, a potent and lovely drink that I tasted after my friend ordered it as her second, while I sipped on the special Hot Toddy the bartender whipped up for sniffling me, who was nursing quite a cold.

This was one of the times when I wished we were a larger party, since the BB menu is vast and between the two of us, we tried just a fraction of the dishes. BB, by the way, sources some ingredients from their place of origin, like aam papad from Amritsar. Thus, from the ‘Bites’ section of the menu we started off with the Aam Papad Paneer, which is sure to be a hit with many, especially accompanied by a cocktail. From the smalls came the Marathi Jhinga Mirch, which caught my attention thanks to the mention of mirch ka thecha (a chunky chutney I was introduced to while living in Nagpur) peanut, green chilli chutney, and grated coconut. The prawns were perfectly cooked and crunchy, and the bed of coarsely ground peanuts and the chilli thecha gave the dish both texture and fire.

The Chili Cheese Kulcha I will likely order on every visit to BB – small kulchas stuffed with melted chilli cheese – its cheese in a kulcha, what could be wrong with that?! The Naga Ghost Pepper Wings were something my companion, who loves her some madly spicy chilies, like the Bhoot Jhalokia that was in these wings, just had to order. I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage more than a bite, but these were mercifully not the burn a hole in your tongue level of spice, but manageable and very well balanced.

Kashmir Naan Kebab (Hot Plates and Street Grills) is minced lamb fashioned into a long kebab, served with saffron brushed and Kebab Chini aka Java Pepper encrusted naan, served with Doon Chetin, a Kashmiri yogurt dip that had walnuts in it. I really loved this dish, from the presentation to the beautifully cooked tender meat, and that delectable dip. After this we only had space for one more, and so regretfully skipping over the Mains, we went with the manager’s recommendation of Mario’s Mango prawn and Coconut Rice (Paired Curries section). A coconuty red prawn curry that was served with a leaf packet of coconut milk rice, this dish was a bit too much of coconut for us.

It was now time for dessert, and we were each very clear on what appealed to us. Amritsari Kulfi, which was a triple threat of Kulfi topped with rose flavored Falooda, in a sea of Badami Phirni, was her choice, and as I am not a Kulfi fan usually, I didn’t expect to like it. But oh, this was a mild and non cardamom infused Kulfi, and the additions of the Phirni (not too sweet or thick) and the Falooda meant that I dug my spoon in a few times. The presentation, with a little molecular gastronomy, only added to the charm. My choice was the Bombay Ice Cream Sandwich, which takes our childhood favorite biscuits of Parle G, Bourbon, and Jim Jam, and replaces their cream centers with ice cream! Presented on a black slate with sprinkles, Gems and Jujubes strewn across, and the whole dusted with icing sugar, this dessert was playful, colorful, and delightful for the eyes and tongue!

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Now, both us gals are tea addicts, so the fact that Bombay Brasserie has a special High Chai menu made us happy, but given the big lunch we’d just eaten, we contented ourselves with ordering just Chai, after promising we’d return for the snacks on that section of the menu. Charminar Chai – like a Suleimani, with brewed tea + spices + lemon, was my friend’s choice, and I went for the Chandni Chowk Chai – a Cardamom tea that was sweet and strong. The teas were served in cutting chai glasses placed in adorable drawers, with biscuits/rusk accompanying them. A lovely way to end the meal! I am already conspiring to go back to Bombay Brasserie – anyone wants to join me?

Details: Bombay Brasserie; INR 2300 plus taxes for two people