Love your Tom Yum Goong? Then the Thai restaurant Benjarong is the place for you.
Last Thursday, we had a little moment of glory at the Benjarong. Located downtown at the Dusit Thani Hotel in DIFC, renowned Chef Poolkuan served up a little piece of spiced heaven for us and let me just tell you, her perfectly balanced, sweet and sour tom yum gai rue goong just lit up our world. Fresh lime. Roasted chilli paste. Fresh, fresh, fresh prawns. Full of deliciousness and depth of flavor. The type that wallops you straight in the mouth. Making you feel alive.
In a word. Memorable.
Tom yum goong is found on almost every Thai restaurant menu, yet are rarely done well. Most are over spiced and packed with sheer heat – and most probably the sweat and tears of some poor chef; leading to multiple attempts at trying to politely suppress an eye-watering cough from your protesting throat as it’s being scorched alive. Well not on this occasion.
In fact, dining at the Benjarong is how dining should be. A sensory experience. Beautiful dark wood interiors with gold painted motifs. Traditional, live Thai music. Transporting but never intrusive. The tables set at discreet distances. The murmur of voices and clinking of glasses. Giving you time to focus on the food before you. Allowing you to escape the day.
Our meal kicked off with the papaya salad, shrimp cakes and the Tom Yum Gai Rue Goong soup. The spice level was adjusted for us and we opted for the lower medium range. It was bang on. Our crispy shrimp cakes came with a sweet plum sauce. A definitely a winner for me. The flavour of the plums came through beautifully complementing our crunchy papaya salad. It had an awesome little kick to it which we kept under control with Benjarong’s freshly-made wood apple and lemongrass juices.
For mains, we opted for the morning glory alongside a generous helping of the Suki Hang Talay noodles. Done with soy bean paste and chilli, the morning glory deserves a special mention as the fermented, salty tanginess definitely worked for us. A glass of Italia 2014 Primitivo red wine paired nicely with the pepperiness of the noodles. Benjarong’s Restaurant Manager, Mr Kyaw Wunna, explained that they are currently running a special noodle menu featuring 6 different options for a limited time only. You can find anything from flat noodles to egg noodles to glass noodles. We opted for the glass noodles done with a zinging sukiyaki sauce, seafood and vegetables. Once again, the prawns were done to perfection. Based on our server’s recommendation we rounded off the meal with Benjarong’s home-made coconut ice-cream. Rich and creamy with a generous sprinkling of cashews, it didn’t disappoint.
Award Winning Menu
We have no doubt that all this consistent tastiness is due to the kitchen being run by award-winning chef, Naruemol Poolkuan, who with over 30 years’ experience, is the powerhouse behind the Benjarong’s success. In 2016, she has been shortlisted for a Pro Chef Award while Benjarong has also been nominated for a BBC Good Food Middle East Award as well as What’s On Restaurant Award – both in the Best Asian Restaurant categories.
In Thai, Benjarong translates to ‘five colors’. Our meal certainly had more than that and flavour-wise it blew our minds. The menu is extensive and there is something for vegetarians and carnivores alike. The service? Impeccable. Knowledgeable. Just what you want if you crave a satisfying dining experience. We will be back.