THAI CUISINE HAS BECOME A SERIOUS FOOD CONTENDER IN BAHRAIN’S CULINARY SCENE. BOTH THE LOCAL AND EXPAT COMMUNITY LOVE THE EXOTIC TASTES, HEARTY RECIPES AND FRESH INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE UP THAI FAVOURITES. THERE’S ONE PLACE THAT’S DOING A GREAT JOB OF BLENDING THE TRADITIONS OF THAI COOKING WITH THE DEMAND FOR INNOVATIVE FARE; FACT TAKES A SEAT AT ROYAL THAI IN THE GULF HOTEL BAHRAIN CONVENTION & SPA FOR A FEAST OF FLAVOURS…

When you walk into Royal Thai restaurant, expect to be transported to the grand pagodas of Thailand. A beautiful large venue takes prime position amidst The Gulf Hotel’s tropical gardens and provides scenic views overlooking the turquoise waters of the outdoor swimming pool. Inside, generous-sized tables are spread out with warm, wooden interiors giving a nod to true Asian décor elements. There are house plants bringing the tropics indoors, Thai-inspired ornaments and wall coverings, a mesmerising fish tank and two stunning private dining rooms in addition to the main seating area. But its enchanting set up is no mask for what we’re really there for; the food.

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Chicken satay skewers and a tangy peanut sauce, fish cakes, spring rolls and other such delights on the starters, followed by the mighty Tom Yum Goong, crispy duck, wok-fried prawns and authentically Thai desserts like sweetened sticky rice – so why fix something if it’s not broken? The difference here is, Thai master chef, Tawatchai Chuto adds his own modern-day influence through certain ingredients and vibrant presentation.
The dishes start to come out and the first thing that strikes us is our waiter’s knowledge of each one. From the ingredients to the way it’s cooked and why it gives off a particular taste, he knows the answers to our questions like a dictionary. It’s even more impressive because he’s Nepalese – but very passionately proclaims his love for Thai food and, especially, the food at Royal Thai. Big thumbs up for service and guest engagement!

After browsing the various sections (and admittedly being very grateful for the translations) we begin with the Spicy Rice Balls and the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce. The latter is definitely the standout – the key is to dunk the chicken and cover it with this silky peanut sauce and savour every bite. Deviating from heavier choices, we opt for the Pomelo Chicken Prawn Salad, followed by the legendary spicy Tom Yum Goong and the unusually brilliant Tom Kha Gai – a sour coconut soup with chicken, lemongrass and galanga. The salad blows us away; it’s almost like a fresh version of a leftover Thai red curry, whilst the Tom Yum, as predicted, fails to disappoint. But it’s the distinctive galangal – an immensely pungent and fiery rhizome, related to the common ginger – that really speaks to our taste buds. Talk about winter warmer soup and this is our new favourite!

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For mains, the Wok-fried Prawns with Black Pepper Sauce and the completely one-of-a-kind Steamed Snow Fish in fresh Chilli and Lime Sauce are both beyond palate pleasing. The jumbo-sized prawns are jubilantly juicy, whilst the snow fish is unlike anything we’ve ever tasted, tender white fish engulfed in a fine stock that is bursting with flavours. Chef Tawatchai tells us that his trick is to use lime instead of lemon, as the zesty, tangy tastes from the lime sticks to food more easily than its sour yellow friend.
If you live for desserts, you’re going to get exquisite experimental choices at Royal Thai. The Yellow Mango Cheescake and the Homemade Rich Coconut Ice Cream are both devoured in mere minutes at our table. The cheesecake is light, almost creamy and complemented well by the light crunch of the delicate base, whilst the coconut ice cream sits in between that blissful area of half icy and half way to sorbet – it’s divine.
In all avenues of the Royal Thai menu, seafood and fish lovers have nothing but unlimited choice; there’s crab, lobster, hammour, prawns and so much more that can be fried, steamed, curried and spiced to perfection. Bringing that much-loved taste of Thailand to Bahrain with a welcomed contemporary touch is exactly what Chef Tawatchai and his team will deliver!

GO: Visit Royal Thai at The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention & Spa. Call 1774 6421 for reservations and more information.