FACT headed to one of our favourite restaurants, Royal Thai, for the irreplaceable experience of dine-in luxury.

With its multiple award-winning outlets, an invitation to eat at The Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention & Spa is always welcome and our lunchtime sojourn at the recently reopened Royal Thai restaurant did not disappoint.

We were greeted like old friends by Chef Wasanee, who said she would be sending us a selection of dishes, including some alltime favourites. The very mention of Chicken Green Curry had our mouths watering before we even reached our seats.

We couldn’t agree on the soup, so chose both Tom Yum and Chicken Coconut. The Tom Yum – or hot and sour – provided the expected explosion of flavour and spice with the warmly welcome heat of chillis blending into the sour aftertaste. In contrast, the chicken coconut offered comfort in the cooling broth with the gentle kick of lemongrass and ginger to complement the coconut’s smoothness. We were definitely off to a good start.

The Royal Platter is certainly aimed at royals with very hearty appetites. Arabian prawns appeared as if coated in vermicelli but with a much more subtle flavour; chicken satay and Angus beef skewers were delightfully tender and perfectly offset by the peanut and tamarind dipping sauces; and the stuffed crab was the star of this plate. A noodle-crumbed crunchy coating yielding to reveal a generous serving of salty-sweet crab meat, its firm texture retained for a satisfying bite. You would go a long way to find servings so generous and all of such high quality.

The accompanying Papaya Salad provided a refreshing side to the meats and seafood and, unlike some, was not overly spiced so as not to overpower the delicate flavour of the fruit.

Next came fishcakes and we all dived for them in anticipation. This particular Thai treat is eternally popular and with good reason. In Thailand they are eaten as both spicily delicious street food and in a slightly more refined, less heated version at finedining venues. We got the best of both; biting into high-quality, firmly fleshed fish with a satisfying spicy zing perfectly balanced by the sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Pineapple Rice and Phad Thai came next. Yes, we know Phad Thai has a reputation for being on the somewhat sinful side of Thai cuisine, as it’s high in both calories and fats. But, it’s also high in flavour and deserving of its popularity. The one served at Royal Thai shows why. Stir-fried rice noodles luxuriate in a sauce in which you can just pick out the subtle nuances of tamarind, shrimp and garlic paired with the sweetness of palm sugar. The noodles themselves were the perfect texture, not sticky at all, and the chunky shrimps and tofu made for a very satisfying dish. The Pineapple Rice, though, was a show stopper. Served in a scooped out half pineapple, the presentation is more than Instaworthy and the dish itself is a perfect blend of sweet, slightly sticky rice, its flavour enhanced by the juices of the lightly seared fruit, married with savoury cashew nuts, plump silky prawns, caramelised onions and a delicate blend of spices to render the dish not just beautiful but also satisfyingly flavourful.

The Gaeng Kiew Wan Kai, green chicken curry, demanded silence and concentration to fully appreciate the delicate blend of flavours. And, oh was it worth it! The secret to the creaminess of the sauce comes from the use of full-fat coconut milk, none of your low fat here please. This combined with the elements of the superb homemade green curry paste, such as galangal, shallots, garlic and kaffir lime, made for a supreme taste experience.

The first sensation was gentle heat coupled with smooth creaminess, the herbs and spices building to a crescendo of flavour on the tongue and leaving a distinct aftertaste of warm, savoury sweetness. The chicken was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the thick, sweet slices of young coconut heart had absorbed all the flavours of the broth without losing their firmness. Yes, it’s safe to say, we are fans!

We finished our meal with the obligatory Khao Neow Mamuang, Thai mango with sticky rice and coconut cream. Here, I must mention that Royal Thai’s idea to use Lazy Susan-style rotating table tops is inspired. It allows you to scoot your favourite dishes along to make sure your dining companions don’t eat them all, and it came in very handy during the dessert serving with each of us spinning the table to grab repeat tastings of the deliciously, glutinous and sweet sticky rice coupled with perfectly ripe juicy mango fruit and cool, sweet, smooth coconut cream. It was the perfect end to an outstanding meal and we would highly recommend, especially now that it’s possible, once again, to eat in Royal Thai’s regal surroundings.

We later discovered that Royal Thai has been awarded the Seal of Approval for Thai Cuisine by Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce – an even better reason to check out what’s on offer. ✤