Jun 25, 2013

Thai Chi...Wafi's Best Kept Culinary Secret!

Tucked away in the Wafi pyramids is one of the most elegant ethnic restaurants in Dubai, Thai Chi! The high glass ceilings and rustic Thai decor give this place a warm cozy feeling I have always enjoyed Thai restaurants across the globe.  The formula in terms of ambiance and service is what you expect in Thailand, but the fact that they have been able to replicate that authenticity right here in Dubai is even better!

Serving up fantastic Thai and Chinese all "under one roof" you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Our evening was mostly dedicated to trying the Thai delicacies, however a couple of the Chinese items also slipped into the mix. 

Our efficient and friendly waiter made the rounds and greeted us with a warm and welcoming smile.  They brough over hot towels, as is the custom in many Asian hotels and restaurants.  We were offered some soemthign to drink and sevred the prawn crackers with chilli dipping sauce to begin.  As we perused the menu,  we noticed a diverse selection of menu items that made it difficult to make our selections.  With the help of our knowlegdable waiter Ramesh and restaurant manager Nok, we were able to figure out the most balanced choices for the evening, which really showcased the best Tha Chi had to offer.   
We started the meal off with a Duck salad and some of the special steamed dumplings, including a lobster with squid ink wrapper, prawn har gao, and seafood shu mai.  They were made fresh to order with the subtle flavors and soft texture, presented in a colorful array which was aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  On the other hand the duck salad was bursting with chilli and had an overwhelming amount of red onion.  It was a bit to spicy for my liking, if the duck skin was prepared slightly more on the crisp side with less of the onion and chilli, this dish would have suited my liking abit more. 
I also came across these gorgeous sweet corn cakes with a pickled cucumber sauce under the vegetarian options.  Seasoned with the best of thai spices and herbs, these fritters totally hit the spot!  They were served in hearty portions, soft and creamy inside with a crispy outer shell, you could call it textural perfection in a lovely round package.

It was refreshing to see an entire menu dedicated to vegetable friendly cuisine. I actually enjoy vegetables more often than meat on a daily basis.  There is more variety of texture, flavor, and technique involved when using some of these delciate ingredients, and Thai Chi has done a fantastic job with the execution of veg in this tasty treat! 
The first course lingered on our minds and palattes as we emphatically waited for our next course.   With the giant window looking into the kitchen we noticed the chefs hard at work searing and woking up our mains.  The skill and precision the chefs demonstarted only comes with years of training in a professional environment.  These chefs were confident and meticulously handled the vegetables and proteins with tender love and care. 
Chef put all the finishing touches on the dishes here, with a delicate hand and focus, there is nothing that could take this chef away from perfecting his craft.  The team of chefs looking on with supprt and excitement is a clear sign of the harmony one should find in a smooth operating kitchen. 
 After appreciating the skill and craft of the kitchen under pressure, we made our way back to the table to prepare for the feast that was about to arrive.   The first menu item, which came highly recommended by the staff was the Omani Lobster with light red curry sauce and lemon leaves.  Lobster is one of my favorite food items. My love affair with this gourmet delicacy is rooted in my upbrining. New England is reknowned worldwide because of its abundance of Lobsters, so you can understand my obsession for it.  Although Omani lobster is slightly overfished, the goverement has nde an effort in preserving the natural sea life.  It can still be enjoyed as atreat every once in a while, but I have to admit, it's not as sweet as Maine Lobster

The presentation alone had my attention.  The chiffonade of razor thin lemon leaves and tendrils of sliced red peppers on top along with the drizzle of coconut cream all nestled into the lobster shell made my mouth water.  The light red coconut curry was a gorgeous consistency, thick and wholesome, it was bursting with aroma....I could hardly contain my excitement!  I am pleased with the level of spice in this dish, as anything spicier would really over power the protein.  The balance between the the sauce and natural flavor of the seafood was spot on.  Although the lobster was slightly overcooked, it was still elegantly enjoyed.
A Thai evening would not be complete without the quientessential Pad Thai!  I had actually first inquired about the Mi Krob Lad Na Talay (Crispy deep-fried egg noodles coated with a mushroom sauce), but the waiter insisted we try the house specialty, Pad Thai.  Going with his recommendation, the chicken and shrimp combination rice noodle dish arrived wrapped in an egg blanket.  This is the most traditional way to present this dish, so kudos on the autheticity of it.  The manager pointed out the condiments on the side to enhance the eating experience.  The noodles were savory and cooked to perfection,  but I actually wanted a little more heat and nutty flavor cooked into the noodles themselves rather than offering it as an accompaniment.
We also ordered one green vegetable, to balance the carbs and protein at the table.  These days I have had Kale on my mind, so when I saw the sauteed Thai Kale leaves with an oyster sauce on the offerings, it was only natural to go with that choice.  Seasoned well and served "al dente" with a natural crunch, the Kale leaves were also a memorable part of the meal.  Enjoying well cooked vegetables can really turn a good dining experience into a great one.  Thai Chi should be commneded on all aspects of this wonderful meal.  They did not skip a beat from beginning to end, and were beaming with pride through out.  It demonstrated their passion for their work as well as their faith in their food.   
Because the staff genuinely wanted us to enjoy the entire gamet of what Thai Chi had to offer, they insisted we try a dessert as well.  Scanning both the Thai and Chinese menu, we came across one item that really stood out to us, the fried bananas with honey sesame and coconut ice cream, as common as a chocolate fondant on menus across the globe.  As we ordered it, our waiter reluctantly informed us they were out of the coconut ice cream, but quickly offered the vanilla ice cream as a substitute.  It might be a popular item, but rarely is it executed the right way. Without any hesitation, I can put my stamp of approval on the Thai Chi version of this dessert.  The deep fried batter encasing the sweet banana was soft and crispy at the same time. Glazed with the honey and sesame seeds, it really brought everything to the next level.  Anything served a la mode automatically improves the confectionary experience, and this vanilla did the trick.  I can only imagine how the coconut would have faired in the same scenario...... 
A wonderful restaurant located in the iconic Wafi pyramids, it's a must try for some robust flavorful cuisine!

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