Sat, 23 Mar, 2019

Embracing the Banyan Tree

Story: Pradnya | Gaonkar | 03rd June 2018, 02:42 Hrs

When your taste buds crave for authentic Pan Asian flavours, you definitely don’t want to get swayed by just pictorial depiction and fancy tag lines. You want to delve into Thai cuisine, breathe in the aroma of the lemon grass and beetle nut. And if you are in for the premium Pan Asian dining experience, tick mark the top option in the list- the Banyan Tree at the Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa. 

Among the 5 star resorts in Goa by the Taj group, Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa stands out for the truly scenic and peaceful Goan atmosphere that guests get to experience here. This is coupled with food options that leaves you quite spoilt for choice. For those who want to try out local flavours, one can go for the signature dishes with the secret spice recipes of well known Chef Urbano do Rego. For the continental experience, one can head towards the Caravela restaurant where the culinary skills of the chefs will take you to the places the dishes belong to. And for the premium Pan Asian dining experience you have The Banyan Tree.  

As you make your way through the grand main entrance and soothe your eyes with lush green lawns and manicured gardens, botanical garden with some exotic herbs, and gape at a huge Banyan tree that is aged, you are greeted at the restaurant by tiny lady - Passang. Her 10 years of experience in the place has made her known to every nook and corner of the place, the finer details of hospitality and every ingredient that goes into making the dishes. To begin with Passang whips up a special Thai concoction, a refreshing cooler called the Pathai cooler with lemon grass, mint that hits the taste buds and refreshes your nerves.  

While you decide on the menu, you are treated to a beetle leaf amuse bouche, a Thai version of the Indian paan called Miang Kham that comes with six other components: salted groundnuts, grated coconut, fried onion, galangal, tamarind chutney, lime slices. You need to make your own paan which Passang highly recommends to cleanse the palate before you begin with the meal. This might be familiar concept but indeed acts a trigger to get the taste buds ready for the flavours that were coming in. The ala -carte menu is simple with selective authentic dishes that have been on the charts since the beginning of the restaurant. Only recently did the management include few Pan Asian dishes to serve the guests. But the authentic signature Thai dishes have not lost their position. Amongst them is the Som Tam Goong which is a raw papaya salad with peanut, lemon and bird chillies. The crunch in the salad because of the raw papaya along with the subtle sweet tangy flavours sets you drooling. The aroma of the just fried prawn rempura awaits next. The crisp coating on the exterior encompasses these soft succulent, cooked to perfection prawns, and the side dip which is specially prepared with added chilli spice blends well with the flavours of sea food. The Chinese dish wok fried chicken also stands out. This is a dry non gravy starter that comes with generously coated tangy spicy sauce. When you get so overwhelmed with the original taste of Thai food and you see the all time favourite names you do not want to miss out on any. But Passang ensures that you do not stuff yourself only with starters and you leave the place with a complete meal. Her main course recommendation is Gaeng Kiew Warn Pla which is a Thai green curry with pomfret and Khao Hom Mali, fragrant Jasmine rice. The bang on flavours and bright colours take you to another level of enjoying the authentic flavours. Manager Mrinal mentions that the chef picks up the exotic herbs like the pandanus leaves, Siamese ginger, makroot leaves, lemon grass etc from the botanical garden.

After this, you cannot leave without meeting the magician who dishes out these culinary art pieces - Chef Amnath Deewong who has been invited to Banyan Tree mainly for the magic he adds into the Thai cuisine after more than 20 years of experience in the industry. Humble to the core, Chef Amnath is always on his toes to give you the best and authentic Thai experience and always ready to modify it as per your taste without compromising on the authentic flavours. He suggested I taste the Phad Krapaw Gai Rad Khao Khai Dao ,which is minced chicken in chilli garlic basil with fried egg and Jasmine rice. It might be difficult to go for two rice dishes together for a single person but if in a group of may be three to four, sharing should help. But the minced chicken with the hint of garlic, basil, makroot leaves play around with your smell as well as taste senses. If you like prawns, then you should try Goong Phad Kratiam Prik Thai which is prawns grilled and coated in garlic pepper sauce. The accompanying sauces like the plum sauce, chilli sauce and peanut sauce compliments the pepper hit prawns. To wrap up the experience with a sweet dessert, The Tub Tim Grob, served in a tender coconut, which is basically crunchy chestnut and litchee fruits in coconut milk would be a good choice. If you crave for some ice cream, go for the house made flavours or else Khao Mow Thod is great dish which a deep fried banana coated with flakes and honey and served with vanilla flavour ice cream. The sweetness of the banana with the thin crust batter coating goes well with the ice cream. The dishes are premium priced but the quality of food, quantity, courteous service, and the overall authentic experience make it all worth it. The place is perfect for a date out with your loved one or a family bonding with kids who would definitely enjoy checking out the geese in premises and be more than happy quacking along with them. 

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