Here’s an odd fact: Thai food varies hugely in taste and flavour from one place to the next. If you’re a casual visitor to Thailand you might not be aware of this. But, firstly, there are four very different regional cuisines here. And then; every single place will make the same dish in a different way. What this all boils down to is that westerners who’ve lived in Thailand for a while are very, very fussy. If they want a red curry, they’ll go to only one particular restaurant for it. If the yearning comes for a prawn tom yum, they’ll head for a different place. You get the idea. It’s difficult to find a Thai restaurant – from street-stall to 5-star – in which every dish on the menu is good.
However, in the case of Supattra Thai Dining, I can honestly state that after 20 years in Thailand, this is the only Thai restaurant I’ve ever been in where every single dish on the menu is not merely good – it’s totally and utterly sublime and deliciously, absolutely, out of this world.
Everything about Khun Supattra’s restaurant is interesting; from the story of where they buy their curry pastes to even the location itself. It’s easy to get to from just about everywhere, being located on the road that runs from the Thai market at Bangrak towards the airport; just head away from the market and it’s about 100 metres on the right, and with a parking area at the side. And you’ll also notice there’s an elegant wine shop, too, built-in and fronting the road.
The building itself is a pleasant surprise: there’s a lot of Thai influence (warm teak and roofline embellishments) but it’s been styled in a clean and freshly-modern way. There’s actually quite a distance from the frontage on the road to the
dining area at the rear, and this results in a cosy and pleasantly-intimate setting against a backdrop of greenery from the open-back dining area.
But it’s not until you’ve been greeted and seated and settled with a drink that you’ll begin to realise that this is not the usual run-of-the-mill restaurant. The menu comes in two parts. The first is a large chalkboard covered with the most
astonishingly tiny, precise writing. There are not many dishes listed here – a handful of starters and possibly 10 main plates; but each item is so intriguing that it’s actually a problem trying to pick just one. And the second part of the menu is
Thomas is the beaming and friendly co-owner and partner, and he’ll bring the board to you and go over each of the featured dishes, explaining what they’re like, what’s in them, how the ingredients interact, and offering advice and guidance. Both he and his wife and partner, Khun Supattra, are not new to all this, having successfully run a restaurant over on Koh Pha-ngan for quite a while, before making the move here last August. But, after you’ve met and talked to her, you’ll realise that both she and Thomas are utterly involved with what they do – they both radiate an infectious enthusiasm.
It’s essentially a seafood-based menu, but it tends to change slightly now and then as Khun Supattra develops another dish or introduces a new variation. It’s a cliché to say that ‘all the ingredients are fresh’ but here they really are: the prawns are actually from the sea and not a farm and come in on the boat every morning, as does everything else. Nothing is kept in ice: as Thomas says it bloats the flesh which reduces flavour and affects the texture. And if you doubt this, go for the Crispy Fried Squid Rings with Chili Sauce. This is what squid should be like; there’s actually a flavour you can taste and it’s not in the least chewy – there’s hardly any difference in texture between this and the prawns!
But it’s not until you begin to savour the main dishes that it truly hits you what a joy each one is. One of the characteristics of Thai cuisine is that it uses a small number of ingredients for its flavouring. Indian food, on the other hand, draws on the subtle layers of compound tastes that come with the use of cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garam Masala and turmeric, providing a richer play of flavours altogether. But when you find yourself with one of Khun Supattra’s curries then you’ll discover what can really be done with Thai food.
The Barracuda Fillets with Penang Curry Sauce will make you whimper with pleasure. Supattra gets her curry paste from only one person; it’s specially made for her, and tastes like no other. It’s rich and creamy, piquant and tantalising, and
plays perfectly against the thick and firmly-succulent barracuda and the diced, crisp, Thai vegetables. The fish is cooked separately from the sauce, and really is full of its own distinctive flavour. Likewise the Blue Crab in Southern Curry and Betel Leaves. Here the sauce is lighter but still dances on your tongue, leaving hints and aftertastes of flavours that resonate around your mouth. The crab meat has been mainly removed but then artfully re-presented along with the shell – all the dishes here are as attractive as they are delicious.
Most of the ingredients used are organic and carefully sourced and, as Thomas points out, there are already several vegetarian dishes, but any one of the curry sauces combined with vegetables or salad is a popular way to go. And
every dish can be tuned to you individual taste when it comes to the degree of spiciness you prefer.
Lastly, but by no means least, the wine. There’s an international selection of around 50 red, white and rosé wines, all available by the bottle and a satisfying selection by the glass. And the labels are keenly chosen by Thomas, who’s just as keen to keep the prices as low as possible. Plus there’s also a good range of cocktails, beers, aperitifs, liquors and soft drinks.
The restaurant is open daily (except Sundays) from 6:00 pm until the kitchen closes at 10:00 pm. There must be a million Thai eateries over here. But Supattra Thai Dining is undoubtedly the one to try!
Rob De Wet
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 932 828 777 or 0 993 637 030.