Marhaba’s weeknight outing brought us to the beautiful Banyan Tree Doha, another one of Qatar’s up and coming venue in Msheireb. The opulence of the place is awe-inspiring. Halls, suites and even each little nook are designed to happily surprise guests. Butterflies? You can almost hear them fluttering from some corner.
Julia Macario, the Marketing and Communications Manager of Banyan Tree Doha, gave us a quick tour of the new hotel and a glimpse of their spacious suites. While they are yet to officially open in October, the place is very much alive with people coming and going. Except for our face masks which we had to wear at all times and the social distancing markers everywhere, everything is almost normal.
Our little tour ended at Saffron, the hotel’s signature Thai restaurant. With candles, incense and soft chairs, the space spells relaxation. Well, until the food started coming and then it became Thai food haven.
Our welcome drinks came in mini-glasses, seemingly floating on a tray of clouds. It was dry ice actually, but the ‘cloud’ magically spread on our table like fog. Impressive!
Thai food is spicy, well, most of their dishes are. That’s a fact. And if you are not much of a spice fan, you can always ask them to tone it down. We did ask Saffron Assistant Manager Rupesh Shrestha and he kindly obliged.
Before the formal starters, we were offered a surprise called Amuse Bouche, another pair of appetisers consisting of shrimp spring roll and a refreshing Miang Kam, a traditional Thai snack that has nuts, leaves and more. It literally translates to ‘one bite wrap’ and sort of prepared our palate for the food.
The appetizers were quite a spread. Called Khong Wang Ruam, it has chicken satay, prawns wrapped in crispy rice noodles, a reasonable serving of pomelo salad and three dips with all the flavours of Thailand in it – sweet, sour, salty, and of course, spicy.
Then came the papaya salad (Som Tum Puu Nin), served with crispy soft-shelled crab. Other countries in Asia have their version of this salad but the Thai version is probably the most popular. It looks simple enough, but once you try to make one on your own, you’ll never really get there, flavour-wise. Good thing there’s Saffron.
And then came the soup: Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum, like Pad Thai, is synonymous with Thailand. But Saffron’s Tom Yum Goong is way, way better, in terms of presentation and of course, flavour. Each serving comes in special bowls that are kept warm by a tea light candle. A couple of prawns are skewered and placed on top to garnish the bowl. Because we requested NOT SPICY, the soup is of course not spicy at all.
After the soup, they again served us a magical glass of sorbet – Butterfly Pea Sorbet – to prepare our palate for the main course.
There’s wok-fried beef tenderloin and Pad Thai Goong Sod – you can’t go wrong with noodles; there’s prawn (again) and so far, in my opinion, the most tender braised beef curry. These came with servings of four rice varieties.
Are we done yet? Not quite.
Going to a Thai restaurant is not complete without Mango Sticky Rice. Saffron’s version has mango slices that are sweet, with rice that is flavoured with just the right hint of coconut. It’s called Khao Niew Mamuang & I-Tim Kati and comes with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
As expected the Mango Sticky Rice provided the perfect ending to a flavorful and delicious Thai night, giving us another good reason to go out on a weeknight.
One interesting trivia about Saffron: they have an all-female chef team led by Chef Porntip Eumanan!
Located on the 24th floor of Banyan Tree Doha, Saffron is open daily, from 6 pm until 11 pm. For bookings and reservations, call 3992 0808 or 4410 3333. Visit banyantree.com for more information.
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Author: Lalaine Sumaray Turqueza
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