Monsoon is a long-time favourite, its décor and food reliable in their ability to impress every time. Team FACT headed to Adliya to see if anything has changed over the course of the pandemic.

We entered through the ornately carved doors and were greeted by a smiling hostess who led us to our table and, as we walked through the restaurant, we took in, once again, the lavish surroundings. The water features, pillars boasting more intricate carving and towering ceilings giving the impression of the Southeast Asian palaces both building and menu are inspired by.

Seated overlooking the outside terrace, with views of the garden and its fabulous ponds and water features, we were quickly served prawn crackers and bottles of the venue’s homemade soda which combines the flavours of pomegranate, mint and just a touch of sugar and has a really refreshing kick.

It seemed just minutes before our food began to arrive. Bang Bang Cauliflower is battered florets coated in Japanese rice cracker and sesame dressing with sriracha sauce and it was seriously moreish. If you think of cauli as purely an obligatory veggie to accompany your staple protein and spuds, this dish will prove you wrong. The coating is supremely crunchy and slightly sweet and the addition of fried sliced garlic adds strength to the flavour. A must-have for one of our diners.

Next up, Sui Mai, handcrafted chicken and prawn Singapore dumplings were a delight, the softly yielding dumpling combined with green vegetable for an unexpected flavour sensation and the juicy prawns and chicken well seasoned enough to add a happy garlicky-ginger snap on the tongue.

The Thai Khao Pad Sapparod, pineapple fried rice with shrimps, is definitely one for the Instagram account. The rice, which is cooked in coconut milk and pineapple juice, boasts the added elements of soy sauce, fish sauce and shallots. It’s served in a hollowed-out pineapple with a topping of eggy strings and is a dish that offered the perfect accompaniment to all the further options to come while also holding its own unique flavour.

The first of the mains to arrive was the Steak Miso with garlic mushrooms and miso butter sauce. Elegantly served on a mini grill with hot coals. This was a favourite with everyone and rightfully so. Miso is said to be the ultimate reference point for the flavour known as umami, deeply savoury but with a salty-sweet richness. Adding it to the perfectly pink steak gave an unbeatable combination.

A piping hot dish of Pad Nam Prik Phao Talay, stir-fried calamari, prawns and seabass with Thai roasted chilli paste and basil leaves, was another winner, the seafood and fish firm and tasty and the sauce piquant and flavourful with just enough chilli heat to ignite an intense reaction from the taste buds. Definitely recommended. And, sticking with fish, Pla Yang Bai Tong – a whole chargrilled sea bass with lemongrass, coriander root and sweet basil was a complete palate pleaser. One colleague who took some home announced that the flavour was even better two days later, the herbs and spices having continued to gently marinate the fish bringing an even more exotic flavour to the firm white flesh.

We were treated to the ridiculously large Edo platter, containing maki and nigiri sushi alongside huge helpings of sashimi sufficient to feed a large family, or even a small army! Every bit was super fresh and the selection of raw fish, from salmon, tuna and yellow tail to eel, octopus and sea bream, made for interesting flavours in the sushi and gave each of us the opportunity to try at least one option we’d never tasted before. The presentation was pristine and this was an all-round triumph.

Last, but by no means least, came Kha Nom Kon Wan – a sharing dessert platter of mango sticky rice, chocolate lava and mango cheesecake with coconut, chocolate and vanilla ice creams. It looked almost too good to eat, but only almost, and we quickly dug in. Every single thing was outstanding but the mango cheesecake was the star of the show with its crumbly biscuit base and a topping of fresh mango and raspberries shielding a filling of absolutely delicious, creamy mango mousse.

Beyond satiated, we were ready to answer the question of whether things have changed over the course of the last 20 months. From us it was an emphatic no, if anything things have only got better. ✤