Re-reading bits of The Beach by Alex Garland is one of our favourite ways to tour Thailand. In its pages, the book keeps fantastically blue waters, secret fields of marijuana, sensuous rice runs and snake blood shots. Seeking out these crisp colours and seductive flavours we associate with the country, we made our way to another thing Thai last weekend - Soi Thai, Vasant Vihar’s new restaurant that used to be a delivery-only kitchen at Saket. New chapter?
And so we made our way to the once teeming Basant Lok market that lay more or less deserted. As if they knew we were coming, two waiters dressed in sunny yellow T-shirts were waiting at the entrance of Soi Thai, ready to usher us in. Sawadee Ka, indeed!
The restaurant isn’t fancy, but it’s pleasant, with distressed wood blue-green chairs that look like they’re crafted out of a beach. We seated ourselves under a picture of a bright yellow auto-rickshaw, and browsed the Thai staples on the menu.
Soi Thai doesn’t serve any alcohol, so come prepared to wash your meal down with either a carbonated beverage or the obligatory fresh lime soda. We sipped our diet colas in anticipation of starters that our server recommended - a raw papaya salad and batter friend prawns with a peanut dipping sauce.
The salad was a pretty mélange of colours featuring shredded greens, raw papaya, shallots, peanuts and lime dressing. It was as delicious as it looked. The prawns however, were a letdown – served cold and a little too chewy. At the end, we had to request a chilli-based dipping sauce that we hoped would lend some flavour.
Wok and Bowl
For mains, we got the Burmese vegetarian khao suey (the only non-Thai dish on the menu), piping hot and fragrant, spiked with chopped onions, chillies and fried noodles. The yellow curry itself was yum, but could do with fresher, crispier veggies. The chicken basil and chili that came highly recommended was a clear winner, featuring well-seasoned meat, fresh basil and crunchy green beans for texture. As for the side of sticky rice (also in their dessert section served with fresh mango), wasn’t sticky enough and had a microwaved feel to it. Reason enough for us to skip dessert, especially considering they were out of everything else.
On the whole, Soi Thai needs a whole lot of kitchen improvement, especially if you consider the trek to a market that is mostly defunct. Friendly service can unfortunately only take a restaurant so far.
Meanwhile if you need us, we’ll be reading our worn out copy of The Beach, dreaming of a yummier Thailand.
Getting there: Soi Thai, 38, Basant Lok Market, first floor, call 8860010774, a meal for two costs Rs 1,700.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.