Restaurant Review: New Thai Food Menu Haaochi Sun N Sand, Mumbai

Name: Haaochi, Sun N Sand

Location: Next to Novotel, Juhu Beach

Date of Visit: 12th December, 2014 (Dinner Hour)

What is your relationship with food? Do you look at it with honest love or passionate lust? You see, this questions becomes very important when you drool over butter chicken, but it is pure love when the item that you’re drooling over is Broccoli & Waterchestnut Dimsums – without sauce. As for me, my relationship with food started out as lust, pure greed and the have-it-now attitude but slowly it has grown into deep love. And one can only hope that yours will too, after this meal.

I first visited Haaochi, the Oriental restaurant at Sun N Sand, Juhu last year, right after its opening. Ever I always remember this place for its tea and dimsums. When you think of going for an extraordinary white tea with golden tips or think of gorging on gorgeous dumplings with subtle notes of flavour weaved in textured stuffings, think of going to Haaochi. After my extraordinary experience with the tea and dimsums at this place last year, I was really excited to taste their new menu with which they have recently launched Thai food.

One thing that is worth noting about this place is that the food and menu at Haochi has an edge. While they understand the Indian palate, common preferences and design their menu for our taste, it is still not a common menu. It is certainly not common food. Haaochi does their food differently, and not in the modern “playing with concept way” but they just make every dish very well. You can see study, balance and patience in each of their dishes. While I am not a fan of the slightly crowded ambience, I always enjoy the food because sometimes it is the hardest to do common favourites that well.

For instance, whether it is the succulent – Wild Catch Black pepper prawns from the new menu or that gorgeous piece of art that is called the Broccoli & Waterchestnut Dimsum, the flavour in every dish, doneness, freshness and texture is just perfect. I have cooked in restaurant kitchens and I have cooked at home, so I can tell you that this is food cooked with love. May be it helped that we were there on a weeknight, so there wasn’t a crowd.

It may as well be that they were taking special care back in the kitchen but the new menu was not that regular old satays and Thai Curry rant, it was really new, and different and had the right balance of flavours. Like any other Thai food it was fragrant but designed for the Global Indian taste buds. How often do you hear that “Mieng Kham” or a Thai paan is being served at a restaurant? Not very often. In fact I had never tried this chaat-like Thai style appetizer before. It was a betel leaf served with five bowls of accompaniments, lime, peanuts, plum sauce, ginger and spring onion. I won’t say it tops my chaat list but it was interesting. Then came the spare ribs, charred, with were way to sweet for my liking and a wee bit tougher meat than I like. This was followed by the wild catch prawns from the new menu, topped with browned lemon grass julienne and my hot-favourite crystal chicken and vegetarian dumplings from the old menu.

The main dishes included Massaman Lamb Cury along with coconut fried rice. The fried rice was a fresh concept and fairly coconuty and its light sweetness paired nicely with the robust flavours of the lamb curry. The curry had great consistency with deep meaty flavours, an enjoyable addition to their menu. Some of my proud “Bangkok-return” friends might say that the food doesn’t taste the same in Thailand. These dishes are as authentic as easily accepted by our Global desi palate. If it doesn’t taste exactly the one that you had in Thailand it is because it is designed to comfort our taste buds aka Global Indian taste buds. The food must be enjoyable, balanced in flavour, consistent and pleasing in texture and theses dishes from the new menu most certainly all that. Haochi is one of those restaurants that can easily become your comfort zone. It is familiar food designed to please, the ambience albeit a little crowded, is no-frills, old fashioned and pleasing. It serves Chinese food with gorgeous Dimsums made by an expat or imported Dimsum specialist from China.

This new addition to the menu offers Thai Curries and delicious fried rice, noodles and extends that comfort zone some more. After all curry is always a welcome addition, right? Haaochi is the right place to go with family or to plan a business lunch because with the new additions in the menu there’s something for everyone, even choosy kids! When you don’t know what everyone will eat, curry & fried rice are always that safe bet that ought to be there. And that is the “That thing about this place”. If I have to describe it in 3 words, I will call it – Comforting, delicious & simple. I was at Haochi for a review invite. The new menu includes Thai food delicacies and will now be permanently available on their menu.

Rating  

Ambience : 3/ 5

Menu: 3/5

Food: 4/5

Service: Not Applicable due to Invite

Value for Money: 3/5

That thing about this place: 3/5

Rating: 3/5 – Good    

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5 Reasons To Love Green Thai Curry (Kaeng Kheiyw hwan thiy); Making the Paste at Home

It is really just a 10 minute job to cut open a pack of Thai Curry Paste and throw in some veggies, chicken or seafood with a can of coconut milk. Honestly, I’d do it too if it wasn’t a Sunday. There are some good brands easily available in the market in metros. Here’s a recipe for those wish to make green Thai curry paste at home.

I prefer making my own Thai curry paste for a number of reasons.

1)   Ready Thai curry paste is not always easily available.

2)   The balance of spiciness, tanginess and the flavours can be adjusted to suit my taste.

3)   The freshness of coriander roots and freshly cut lemongrass cannot be replaced by a ready pack.

4)   I make the paste once in a month and can store it in an airtight container for weeks. So, I can still make my thai curry in 10 minutes.

5)   This Thai Curry paste recipe is vegetarian and contains no fish sauce. So, my vegetarian or vegan friends can enjoy it too!

 Ingredients:

Green Thai Curry Paste

Dark Green Chilies, heads removed            (remove seeds to reduce spice)      6 – 8

Lemongrass, stalks only, chopped               5, 5 inch each

Coriander Stalks and roots, cleaned           ½ cup

Garlic cloves, peeled              10 cloves

Ginger, peeled           2 ½ inch, cut into small pieces

Lemon zest                 of 2 ½ lemons (use lime if available)

Coriander Seeds, roasted     3 tablespoons (about 45g)

Cumin Seeds              1 tablespoon (about 15g)

Lemon Juice               of 1 Lemon

Light Soy Sauce         2 tablespoons (about 30ml)

Shallots/ Madras Onion, peeled      2

Salt to taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                        2 tablespoons (about 30ml)

Galangal (if available)        1 ½ inch pieces, peeled and cut

Kaffir Lime Leaves (if available)             4-5 leaves

Thai Basil (if available)     4 -5 leaves

Method:

Add all the Ingredients in a grinder jar and blitz them together to a fine paste.

 

 

Green Thai Curry

Vegetables

Babycorn        5 pieces, cut diagonally

Frenchbeans              15 pieces, cut diagonally

Mushrooms                10 pieces, sliced

Brocolli           1 whole, cut in florets

Red Bell Pepper        1, large, cut into odd triangles

Capsicum       2, medium, cut into odd triangles

Eggplant (Brinjal)     cut into dices

Proteins

Tofu                100g, cut into odd triangles

OR

Chicken, boneless thigh        150g, cut into cubes

OR

Fish Fillet        2 fillets, cut into large triangles

OR

Tiger Prawns, cleaned and deveined         4-5 pieces

For the Curry

Olive Oil (or any Vegetable Oil)       2 tablespoon (about 30ml)

Green Thai Curry Paste        4-5 tablespoons (as per your preference)

Light Soy Sauce         few drops

Coconut Milk              2 cups (about 400ml)

Salt      if required

 

Method:

1)   Heat oil in a pan and add in the thai curry paste, soy sauce and sauté.

2)   Boil water in a pan, pop in the broccoli and beans for 1 minute, then plunge it in cold water. Drain the water and keep aside the cooking liquid and vegetables aside.

3)   Add in the babycorn and frenchbeans to the thai curry paste and stir fry for 2–3minutes.

4)   Add in the tofu/chicken/fish/prawns, add the mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers and the remaining vegetables and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.

5)   Add in one cup of cooking liquid and bring the curry to a boil.

6)   Add in the coconut milk, cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.

NOTE: You can enhance the flavours that you prefer in Thai curry by adding specific ingredients in the curry. While sautéing the paste, add in lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves for tanginess, green chili julienne for heat or fish sauce instead of salt more authentic thai flavour.