Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and now Thai
Atmospherics: The all-day dining at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon has a plethora of cuisines, all of which they manage to do with surprising panache. However, the pride of place must go to Chef Kanyaphat Faisai from Phuket. She is the latest chef to join the eclectic team in Spectra, and handles their Thai section (the subject of this review). It is one thing to have a great chef; it is quite another to have a 100% backing in the kitchen. The quality of ingredients: juicy pomelos, firm little pea aubergines, crabs that are flown in live, irreproachably fresh prawns, snowy white mung bean sprouts and curry pastes that have been obviously prepared in-house, all make this Thai food as good as anything you would find in Thailand. On the day of my visit, the entrance of the hotel had been drawn back from the highway and was awaiting re-evaluation of its alcohol licence, relative to the new ruling.
Table talk: The Thai menu is exhaustive, each section offering approximately five options. Yum song o goong mungkorn (Rs 1250) is a five star salad, vastly upgraded from the vegetarian offering that is the norm. This version is studded with crab fritters, a grilled scallop and chunks of lobster, besides roasted coconut and cashew nuts. At the price, it is a steal. The pomelo has been especially chosen for its rich, ripe flavour. Poo phad pong kali (Rs 1675) features the most flavourful crab it has been my privilege to enjoy in the NCR. A thick gravy made with a curry mix from Phuket, it is not only flavourful but it goes beautifully with the crab meat that has been cracked but left in the shell. The quality of the crab, however, means that you don’t have to use force to prise open the shell. It was the single best dish of my meal, and the most delicious dish I have tasted this year! The lone modern preparation of my dinner was Penang Chilean seabass (Rs 1675) that was composed of a generous wedge of seabass in a Penang curry. You could, if you wish, eat it with rice. Seabass is not a fish that is encountered in Thailand, hence the term modern.
Plus and minus: there is little for the vegetarian; perhaps it will be rectified in the future.
Must try: Phad Thai, crispy salmon, sticky rice with mangoes.
Food: 4.25; Service: 3.75; Décor: 3.50
The Leela Ambience Gurgaon Hotel and Residences
Ambience Island, Gurgaon
Open from 6 am to 11 pm
Meal for two: Rs 5,000
Alcohol: served; credit cards accepted