So great is the elaborate sense of occasion that Tong Thai presents, a first time diner is left almost expecting disappointment. Arriving at the venue, you're warmly welcomed and ushered down a long, ornate corridor. Seemingly endless, one suddenly emerges in the dining space, which is equally beautiful with two towering walls reaching to the sky and dramatic ceiling-high windows offering glistening views of the Business Bay neighbourhood. At this point, the food is under such a weight of scrutiny, that you can't see anything but an impending slip-up. Thankfully, that doesn't happen. The food is authentic but inventive; classics like Tom Yum have been perfected but don't bore, salads burst with fresh taste, while both the curries and stir fries pack depth and flavour. Service is faultlessly friendly. Moreover for this standard, prices aren't extortionate, portions are ample and white rice is provided free of charge.
As perhaps the best-known Thai hotel chain, a Bangkok-born brand with more than 65 years in the game, there's a fair amount of expectation that accompanies a visit to the Dusit Thani's signature Thai restaurant, Benjarong. But in Dubai, they get just about everything right. The venue looks, and more importantly feels, great '“ the ornate but restrained colonial-tinged decor has an understated charm, elegant without being glitzy, creating the vibe of a family run joint rather than a global hotel chain. The kitchen faultlessly delivers the goods. Kick off with the khong wang ruammit appetiser platter, then dive into one of the classic curries, and you won't go wrong. Extra touches such as magnificent views of the cityscape from the venue's 24-floor vantage, an impressive mixed drinks selection and an authentic live music duo playing traditional Thai music '“ excellently but non-obtrusively '“ make this a great night out.
The Jumeirah Group is renowned for its culinary capabilities and hosts some of the best restaurants in the city. While Pai Thai offers a special dining experience, it doesn't quite live up to expectations. Things start special, with a touristy abra ride through the twinkly waterways of Madinat Jumeirah to reach the quaintly decorated restaurant, which boasts an inviting outdoor terrace. The experience remains strong when dishes start arriving, with traditional soups and salads offering an authentic, warm and zesty first course.