As we were ferried through contrived waterways in a suspiciously inauthentic abra, I could imagine the unhinged musings of the archetypal Bond villain 49 Reviews
Street food market
A new weekly event, with a Thai street market-inspired space, serving lunch from live cooking stations. Dhs250 (soft drinks). Dhs375 (selected beverages) Timings: Noon-3.30pm (Saturday)
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Apart from one occasion, when I was lowered in a cage into shark-infested waters, I’m struggling to remember the last time I was made to feel like James Bond. But my journey to the door of Pai Thai – the Madinat Jumeirah’s serene waterside Thai restaurant – had all the trademarks of a voyage into the ostentatious lair of an evil genius.
As we were ferried through contrived waterways in a suspiciously inauthentic abra, I could imagine the unhinged musings of the archetypal Bond villain. ‘The whole complex was designed to my own personal specifications…’ he would lisp while stroking a white Persian cat with a solid platinum hand. Then, as our polished plastic buggy snaked to the restaurant along palm-lined paths, he would sadistically advise that, ‘naturally, any attempt at escape would be completely futile…’ as a gnashing crocodile swished darkly into the shrubbery.
Yet, despite the glaringly phoney setting, escape was the furthest thing from my mind. My mission was to investigate the defection of Sukhothai’s head chef to Pai Thai, and the subsequent creation of a new, world-conquering menu, which veered away from contemporary designs and focused on traditional Thai cuisine. So I managed to suspend disbelief as we were seated at a table on canal-side decking overlooking the sanitised villas that stood silent in the night.
The sight of my fishcakes helped to add a touch of reality to proceedings. Like Scaramanger’s auxiliary nipple there were more than I’d expected, but unlike the aforementioned areola they were extremely appetising when smothered in sweet chilli sauce. Meanwhile, my companion became acquainted with a clutch of king prawns wrapped in egg noodles, which, when dripping in garlic and plum sauce, would have had Pussy Galore purring.
We were kept on a knife-edge by the delayed arrival of our main courses, but when my deep-fried hammour with sweet and sour chilli sauce appeared with clumps of sticky steamed rice, it was worth all the suspense. As I clawed flakes of soft white meat from the whole fish, my friend was wrestling with yet more seafood; this time it was a gang of tiger prawns as big as henchmen, which surrendered without a struggle to a creamy, spice-tinged curry sauce. This burst of excitement was followed by another lull in the story, but soon a pair of dazzling desserts was to provide the sensational denouement.
In an explosion of fruit chunks, my friend provided a diversion by cracking into his sublime deep-fried pandan ice-cream as if he were burrowing into a subterranean hideout; while I assailed a ticking time-bomb of perky pumpkin and custard with creamy coconut milk, before it could wilt in the hot night air. The mission was declared a success. And my report back to Time Out HQ reveals that – with its new chef, revamped menu and return to sumptuously simple Thai food – Pai Thai is undoubtedly licensed to thrill.
The bill (for two)
3x mineral water Dhs75
Prawns wrapped in egg noodles Dhs55
Fish cake Dhs50
Prawn curry Dhs125
Deep-fried hammour Dhs80
Deep-fried pandan ice cream Dhs45
Pumpkin custard Dhs40
Total (including service) Dhs470
By Time Out Dubai Staff
- Previous reviews
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