Thai cuisine, despite its many takers, has largely been relegated to bright hued curries and at the periphery of pan-Asian menus. Even when interest in the cuisine spiked and menus began to include the likes of Tom Yum, Larb, Pad Thai and Som Tam, it rarely found itself in the spotlight or as the subject of an earnest culinary experience in India. This, till Zorawar Kalra’s Massive Restaurants with culinary pedigrees like the modern-Indian MasalaLibrary and the modern-Asian Pa Pa Ya, opened — staying true to style — a modern-Thai concept, Bo Tai, at the Kutub Boulevard, right next to Olive in Mehrauli.
The restaurant, at the top of the building, has a terrace split into two by a peepul tree, minimalist interiors with rose gold accents and an island bar, and is possibly Kalra’s best-looking venture. During the day, natural light floods into the restaurant and each window looks out to the lush foliage that surrounds the Qutub Minar.
The bar, that takes centre stage at the restaurant has been conceived by Dare Hospitality, helmed by former staff members of London’s Artesian, one of the world’s 50 Best Bars for years before it fell, well, from grace. The cocktails are ultra-modern takes on lores of the Kingdom. While its in vogue to sell dishes with “stories” and with stories many come, they are often in poor taste. At Bo Tai, however, the drinks reflect their mixing at the hands of masters. The Full Moon Festival, inspired by the Siamese festival of Loi Krathong, where people flock to the rivers with baskets holding herbs and flowers, is a gin-based cocktail with strawberry and rose syrup, house-made spiced vermouth, grapefruit, orange syrup, lime, pandan tincture with a handful of flowers set afloat. This is, without doubt, the most stunning cocktail in town. Another sterling job is the Banana Pancake Trail — a concoction of tea infused rum, India port blend, condensed banana and hazelnut comes with a fruit mix to be doused in maple syrup that can be enjoyed as dessert too.
The food here, despite one foot planted firmly in Thai flavours, isn’t particularly loyal to their culinary traditions and borrows heavily from global cuisines. The Snapper Spud, fried fish under a thin bed of crispy onions, came with a Bagna Cauda — an Italian dipping sauce made with pumpkin at Bo Tai. Another starter, Wrenched Jackfruit with Red Curry Cream, the ubiquitous Asian fruit stuffed in a bao, throws up memories of a holiday in Thailand well-spent. The starters instantly establish the restaurant’s philosophy — to present Thai food in a global context while remaining congnisant of Delhi’s need for its food to be bold and direct.
The mains offer a wide variety to choose from — some staples and some off-center interpretations of Thai food. It also features a grills section. A platter of Duck Sausages, Butternut Squash and Potato Dauphinoise — sticky sausages, offered with rice in Thailand, come with mini toasts at the restaurant offering a complex flavour profile.
The desserts, though seemingly less adventurous than the rest of the menu, too are renditions of popular last courses. The Kobocha (Japanese Squash) Custard served with a coconut and pandan — a popular flavouring agent in Southeast Asia — jelly is reticent but one that stays with you long after.