Pai Thai: Traditional Thai Cuisine

Thai cuisine isn’t as prevalent in Dubai as Middle Eastern or Turkish cuisine, but that doesn’t mean it should be missed. In fact, Pai Thai at the Madinat Jumeirah resort has won the Best South East Asian Restaurant Award from Time Out Dubai four years in a row. The restaurant is popular with both locals and tourists for its authentic cuisine, created by chefs who originate from Thailand and share an appreciation for the country’s traditional flavors.

One of the highlights about Pai Thai is getting there. Upon arrival at the Al Qasr Hotel in the Madinat Jumeirah resort, a small abra boat picks you up and travels through the hotel’s waterways to get to the restaurant. It’s a serene experience that will make you feel as if you’ve left Dubai and transported far away from the city.

Once you arrive at the restaurant, you can choose to sit in one of the two indoor dining rooms or the large outdoor patio overlooking the waterways as the boats pass by. In the middle of all three seating areas, a Thai artist gracefully plays the Khim, an instrument from Thailand made of wood and brass strings. The instrument produces a soft, soothing tone that resonates throughout the restaurant.

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To begin your meal, try the savory chor moung appetizer – purple flower chicken dumplings with fried onion, peanuts, and chili-soya sauce. Presentation-wise, the dumplings have a warm, bright purple color and are beautifully crafted into the shape of a flower.

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Pai Thai has a variety of main dishes to choose from, including deep fried fish, tofu, curry dishes, Atlantic lobster, wok fried duck, and noodles. If you enjoy seafood, try the Talay phad nam prik pao, which has stir-fried prawns, scallops and calamari with chili paste, spring onion, and Thai basil. This spicy entrée is very flavor-filled, and the taste of basil comes through in every bite.

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If you prefer meat for your entrée, try the Gaeng phed ped yang – roasted duck with red curry, cherry tomato, and pineapple. The duck is tender and overall, the dish has a mild sweet flavor from the pineapple chunks and coconut sugar.

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Or try a recommendation from the staff – the Goong gra tiem prik thai with crispy tiger prawns, garlic, coriander and green pepper sauce. The shrimp is well-prepared and the dark sauce is appetizing with a peppery flavor.

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Even if you’re full from your meal, the ice cream thod is a must-try for dessert. Another recommendation from the staff, this dessert is made with deep-fried vanilla ice cream, sponge cake, caramelized banana, egg, breadcrumbs, and strawberries. Served warm, the dessert tastes like a sweet, fluffy cake filled with ice cream. It’s surprisingly light, and the breadcrumbs create a crunchy texture on the outside.

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Veena Bissram

Veena's two biggest passions are writing and traveling, but after living in Strasbourg, France, she acquired a third passion – food.Veena combined her three passions to create, her own food website where she now writes about the meals that make an impression on her. She is also a freelance writer who previously wrote for Mashable. Follow Veena @FoodAvecFlair.