The restaurateur who gave the city Bella Ciao, now invites us to Thai Food House, his new project on St Mary’s Road
We find ourselves on the first floor of Thai Food House on Diwali. The Thai music playing in the restaurant is interspersed by the incessant noise of crackers and rain. Chef Satit Chaimano greets us with a humble bow and clarifies, “Vegetarian or non vegetarian?” Pleased that we are willing to eat anything he wishes to serve us, he leaves us with a smile. By the time he returns to check on us, we have already scraped up every last morsel of our papaya salad. The tangy, spicy and juicy dish wakes up the senses from first bite and we ignore the spring rolls and chicken satay that are also waiting for our attention. Ciro Cattaneo, the man behind this restaurant, is confident that his chef will impress. “He is from Bangkok and has a lot of experience,” says the fan of Thai cuisine. “In Chennai, a Thai meal costs at least Rs 1,500. I want to make it affordable and authentic,” is his reason for going Thai, after Bella Ciao, the Italian restaurant he has successfully run since 1998.
Tom Yum moment
Thai Food House soon becomes our perfect getaway for the rainy afternoon. The colourful walls with Oriental motifs painted on them are a good foil to the gloomy weather outside. And spoonfuls of Tom Yum soup seem to tease our taste buds with an aroma of lemongrass mixed with squid, prawns and fish, as we lean in to sip. In true Tom Yum style the soup leaves a zing on our lips as we prepare to tuck into a green curry of pork with steamed basmati rice. At this point, Chaimano points out that they serve sticky rice too. The menu has staples like Phad Thai and a host of stir fried dishes sharing space with Thai grilled chicken, omelette mixed with prawn and deep fried white snapper.
We would love to have a go at the glass noodles, but one must save space for dessert, especially when the chef is plating up three options. First is a candied banana topped with coconut cream. “It’s just banana boiled in sugar for three hours,” says the chef, as we switch to the more familiar water chestnuts soaked in coconut syrup. Of course, the best is saved for the last. Small, flower-shaped, dumplings of flour, egg yolk and coconut, or Thong Eak. This chewy treat is reserved only for special occasions like weddings, the chef reveals.
Meal for two at approximately Rs 800. Details: 42334300