Excellent Thai food in wonderful settings in Bahrain 4 Reviews
There are two types of good restaurant, as far as I’m concerned. There are those in which the food is forgettable but the atmosphere so enticing it doesn’t matter that supper tasted like cardboard and the wine like tepid tap water: you’d still go back just to be there. Then there are those who serve some of the best food on the planet in premises so slummy that eating there makes you feel like a squatter. Rarely does great food and a great ambience come hand in hand.
Monsoon, the Thai-inspired restaurant that forms part of Adliya’s revered Block 338 might well be one of the few restaurants in Bahrain to buck this trend. Austere high walls and a door fit for a cathedral hide the Asian grandeur of the building from prying eyes and seem a little fortress-like and uninviting. But step inside and you enter another world. The Chiang Mai-style sala towers above tables lit from all angles with a warm orange glow: Bahrain, and the drab concrete blocks that define it, disappeared as the door closed behind it.
Although the restaurant sells itself as pan-Asian, the backbone of the menu is Thai, with a selection of other Southeast Asian favourites and a nod further East in the form of a sushi bar. In some respects, this is a shame. When people eat out, they want a taste of something specific. The fact that Monsoon does everything so well, however, gets them off the hook.
I started with one of my favourite Thai dishes, yam tuna, a spicy tuna salad. In Thailand, this comes piping hot, jammed with tough lemon grass and sour lime and served with rice. Monsoon, however, is Thai for foreigners, and the salad that appears is much more recognisable to a Western palate, the spice of the garnish tempered by cos lettuce.
Green curry is to Thailand as snails are to the French: Not all that popular at home, but around the world emblematic of the entire national cuisine. A good green curry, as far as I am concerned, is not the oily variety that comes in vast metal pans at food courts in Bangkok, but one with a light sauce bursting with flavour and heavy on coconut milk. The Monsoon green curry was one of the best I have ever tasted. The vegetables slightly al dente and the sauce so light it almost floated above the bowl.
Since the meal thus far had been an entirely Thai affair, I decided to tuck into some sushi to see if the restaurant really could excel across borders. The nigiri platter came well presented and, as is key, the fish was fresh. Japanese cuisine is all about detail, and with the wasabi pressed into a small leaf and the pickled ginger built up like a wigwam, full marks were given to the way it looked. From the way it tasted, it was clear Monsoon could set itself up as a sushi joint without much competition.
Monsoon’s seat near the top of Bahrain’s dining scene is not just down to its idyllic setting, but it because it manages to cover a remarkably lengthy and eclectic menu as though each dish was a special. Which goes to prove that, at Monsoon at any rate, it never rains, it pours.
The bill for two
Toong Thong BD2.900
Yam Tuna BD2.900
Green Curry Prawn BD4.300
Green Curry Veg. BD3.000
Nigiri sushi platter BD7.200
Large water BD2.000
Jasmine tea BD1.100
Total (incl tax/service) BD25.700
Time Out Bahrain,
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