A brilliant Thai restaurant with modern tastes.
Atmospherics: The rest of the hotel may be young and trendy, but Thai Pavilion is sombre, being completely wood-panelled from floor to ceiling. Service is managed by a bunch of seriously young people who can talk extensively on the finer points of every dish. The management can take a bow: it is hard to beat the sheer enthusiasm or depth of knowledge by the service staff.
Do be aware of a peculiar trick of the pricing. Each section has a different price, which covers every item in that section. Thus, in the appetizers section, scallops, foie gras and rice noodles are all the same price! So you don’t have to be a financial wiz to figure out what to order to get value for money. There’s only one rider here: steamed rice (Rs 825) costs the same as all the noodle and rice dishes in that section, but you’d spoil your meal if you combine, say, red curry with khao pad rice, so you are more or less obliged to pay a premium for plain rice!
Table Talk: Don’t expect “the usual menu” here. It’s all about serving a brilliant re-construction of Thai flavours, but it is done without pretentions or fanfare. Pan grilled scallops in orange and rice wine reduction (Rs 775) is probably the cheapest dish of scallops in the NCR and the intensely citrusy sauce is a masterpiece. Thai yellow tofu wrapped with betel leaf and plum sauce (Rs 775) is unmissable, particularly because it is one of the few great vegetarian offerings. The flavour of the betel leaf is incomparable. Soft shelled crab in red chilli paste (Rs 925) is a main course. Not quite red in colour, the panoply of unfamiliar flavours makes this one perfect. Thai-style omelette with minced prawns (Rs 925) pulls no punches, and makes for an elemental taste in the midst of so much novelty, but you could have duck or pork for that price!
Plus and minus: There’s something for everyone, even for those who don’t like fish sauce and coconut and it’s surprisingly pocket-friendly. Minus: Vivanta gets the spelling of betel wrong on a menu? Shocking!
Must try: Crispy rice noodles with corn in a rice tartlet (v); duck liver foie gras with sea asparagus in mango sauce (nv); garlic pepper winged beans (v)
Ratings: Food 4 Service 4 Décor 4
Vivanta By Taj, HUDA City Centre Metro Station, Sector 44, Gurgaon
Open from 12.30 to 3 pm and 7 to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Rs 3,500