Silk and Spice
First things first. We’re not a fan of the name. We know it’s in a hotel, the Sofitel Corniche, but it shouldn’t sound like it’s in a hotel. That aside, this Thai restaurant does manage to sidestep the mundanity of its title and serve up consistently delicious food, with a particular emphasis on food from the country’s capital, Bangkok.
The menu is broad but not overwhelmingly so and the starters and salads tend to choose themselves. The Dim Sum are well-stuffed, well-seasoned and rarely bland, as they sometimes can be, while the spring rolls, which come with minced chicken, snap on the teeth with a satisfyingly oil-free crunch.
Of the salads, the green papaya is the pick and goes well with some of the mains if you prefer to have it as a side dish rather than starter. Another option is to begin with a soup: the chicken coconut is outstanding, though the spicy prawn broth with lemongrass and galangal is a good kick-start for the metabolism and has a wonderful, fresh flavour.
In the mains, carnivores are advised to go for the wok-fried beef tenderloin with black pepper and lemongrass, which brings an unusually fresh, light feel to meat, or the deep-fried crispy duck, spiced up with a zingy cinnamon sauce. Both as good as we’ve eaten in the city, with a depth of flavour that courses through any accompaniment – we opted for the vegetable fried rice.
Seafood fans can go for the wok-fried salmon with hot basil sauce – it’s fiery, certainly, but just enough to create a satisfying punch with every mouthful. The curries, though, can be adapted to taste with different levels of spice, and the prawns in yellow curry – typical of Bangkok – works better with the heat turned down.
Almost as notable as the food is the setting, which offers sunken tables under a carved wood ceiling. A traditional kneel-down service accompanies this section of the restaurant, which adds to the experience.
Thai food is generally a crowd pleaser and Silk and Spice ticks off all the necessary components for an excellent meal. There aren’t too many whistles and bells, and there is a slight safeness to the menu, but it does manage to avoid the cloying sweetness in its dishes that can mar this cuisine in the UAE. It is, for us, the first port of call for Thai food in the capital.