With enhanced safety and hygiene measures, Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa, Goa returns with a delicious new menu at its award winning Thai restaurant.
Only a few weeks ago, I sank into a feeling of dejection for Goa’s hospitality industry, impacted so cruelly by the novel coronavirus. So imagine my delight when I heard that one of India’s biggest hospitality chains was welcoming guests and patrons back into its warm embrace!
Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa in Candolim has a long-standing legacy as India’s first of its kind. Only recently, it swung open its doors with new and enhanced safety and hygiene measures, so I had to stop by and take full advantage.
I’d been hankering for some authentic Thai food for some time and the Banyan Tree at Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa has always been one of my go-to restaurants. Nestled in the immaculately manicured gardens of the resort, it also has its own entrance to the main road so you can cut straight to the chase.
Almost immediately, I found a sense of safety with all staff wearing masks and gloves, standing at an appropriate distance and the seating arranged in a way that maintained distance, yet felt warm and comfortable. I have no doubt that behind the scenes, the hygiene measures have doubled from its already high standards pre-COVID-19.
With this assurance, we sat down to what turned into a memorable meal and Taj’s much-loved signature hospitality. Banyan Tree has always been known for its amazing south-east Asian flavours. On my visit, I met the affable and very talented Chef Sahil Desai whose amazing career has taken him across the world and back to settle now as executive chef at Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa Goa.
At Banyan Tree, he has introduced new-age dining and showcased authentic Thai food by focusing on fresh produce, developing signature flavours and elevating traditional ones. Many of the spices used in his menu are handpicked from the resort’s in-house garden, ensuring top-notch quality and wholesome aromas.
We dived straight into favourite Thai flavours with an interesting mocktail – the Phad Thai Cooler. Odd though it sounds, it packs in the sweet nuttiness of peanuts, the zing of ginger and freshness of coriander to offer the perfect start to a delightful lunch. If you are so inclined, I’d imagine a touch of gin might kick things up a notch!
As we settled into a cool monsoon afternoon, the gaggle of geese that makes the resort its home came around to say hello. They waddled around the garden as our scrumptious starters appeared – Kai Red Prik, Phad Ki Mao Kung and Phorpia Je. The first was a crispy lamb stir fry, the second a spicy prawn appetiser and the last was an interesting vegetable spring roll dolloped with plum sauce.
With our appetites whetted, we moved on to some famous Thai soups that proved beautifully warming on a cold rainy day. Tom Kha is the ideal partner to Tom Yum, both similarly flavoured but the former easing up on the heat with a generous addition of coconut milk and lemon grass. Fresh prawns lent a sweet ocean flavour, while the hot and spicy Tom Yum came with succulent pieces of chicken.
As the chatter continued, we received a gorgeous spread for mains. There was aromatic jasmine rice that we covered with Gaeng Kiew Warn Kai or Green Curry with chicken and Gaeng Phed Pla or Red Curry with fish. Phad Thai is always welcome – we enjoyed a vegetarian version this time, with Phad Phak or stir fried veggies. My favourite was the lobster in tamarind sauce, the sweet fresh flavour of the lobster perfectly complimenting the spicy-tart dressing.
There was a thought at this point to skip dessert, seeing as the meal was so soul and stomach-satisfying! But when dessert came around, there was no way I could resist. A gooey chocolate brownie enhanced by the zesty flavour of makroot or kaffir encased in white chocolate was heavenly to behold. For a flourish, piping hot chocolate sauce was poured at the table to melt the casing and slather the brownie in decadent goodness.
As the rain poured on, we enjoyed our monsoon catch up in safe surroundings that reminded us of more carefree times, with the Banyan Tree by Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa giving us hope that things will get better soon.