I normally don’t feel like eating Thai food for lunch. Unless of course I’m in Thailand, at which point I want to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
However, I recently ate at the HypnoThai brunch which just launched at The Palace Downtown, and my mind has been changed. Not only will you get delicious (all-you-can-eat) Thai food to some groovy hypno beats, but you also get a gorgeous view of the fountains, which makes for a perfect Friday afternoon.
I’ve eaten at Thiptara for dinner before on a few occasions, and always seem to default to ordering the same dishes time and time again. So, for me, the best thing about this brunch is that you can choose from a wide variety of items you might not normally order. Not only that, but the food is stunning as well as delicious so you can keep both your eyes and your tummy happy.
One room showcases the starters, desserts and a selection of beverages, while the mains are brought to your table family-style.
The self-service drinks on offer included red and white wine sangria (below), fresh coconuts (though several of the coconuts we selected were somehow empty), and a delicious ginger iced tea. You can also order botanical sodas, mocktails and premium drinks off a menu.
This tom kha gai soup below wasn’t much to look at – a few boiled chicken pieces, mushrooms and green onions in a thin white soup – but the chicken was so tender and the flavours so coconutty and lemongrassy that I just about licked the bowl clean.
For starters, there was the requisite made-to-order tom sam (green papaya salad). Though it lacked the serious umami flavours I got from the tom sam prepared for me by the auntie at the street-side stall when I was in Chiang Mai, I was still happy – especially with the big pieces of crab thrown in at the end.
The chicken satay were so tender with this glistening satay sauce.
There were a few steamed dim sums, such as this chicken siu mai, plus a veggie dumpling option.
There are also some beautifully-plated modern Thai dishes such as this salmon tartare scented with coconut milk.
For mains, there are four carnivorous options and three veggie versions. The dish I’m still craving is the nua phad prik ohn (stir-fried Wagyu beef with garlic, chili and peppercorn sauce).
The most photogenic dish – which was also delicious – was the kung mung korn phad prik thai (wok-fried Canadian lobster with spring onion and black pepper)
These fat noodles (pad see ew – flat rice noodles with chicken, egg, veggies and soy sauce) are one of my all-time favourite Thai dishes. This was my go-to dish when I was last in Thailand, and Thiptara’s version was just as good as the ones I ate for 35 baht at the best open-air street-side caffs. (This is a compliment.) In fact, I couldn’t stop myself from eating directly from the below plate.
That leaves only the chicken green curry which felt far too “common” on this occasion. I personally find Thiptara’s green curry a tad on the sweet side (though still moreish and addictive), so I satiated myself with the other dishes before moving on to dessert.
The desserts are amongst some of the most lovely desserts you will find – such as these dainty moulded coconut jellies.
I’m used to eating mango sticky rice (my favourite Thai dessert) from a styrofoam tray whilst standing on the side of the road in Thailand, so this posh version served in a margarita glass with an edible flower on top was far more civilised (though there’s less mango in their version). However there’s a tropical fruit counter mere steps away so you can enhance it with extra mango if you wish, plus dragon fruit, rambutan and mangosteen.
Below is the colourful tab tim grob, otherwise known as rubies in coconut milk. This colourful dessert is made from water chestnuts, tapioca flour and coconut milk.
The only thing that let the brunch down was the service. We were in a big party hosted by the hotel and Zomato, but despite this, the servers were few and far between and seemed to lack initiative and direction. Even towards the end of the brunch, the food on display had been depleted (when we were getting our desserts) and were not being refilled quickly enough. The result? A group of #hangry foodies who were discussing the slack service rather than the tom kha gai.
The HypnoThai brunch is AED 260 per person inclusive of soft beverages, AED 320 per person inclusive of house beverages, or AED 390 per person inclusive of house beverages and bubbly. Every Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm
Verdict: Despite the poor service, the food was so delicious and the views so stunning that I already want to go back. For the best experience, go hungry and keep your expectations of the service low.
Note to self: If the weather’s nice, book a table on the overwater terrace for a prime a view of the fountains.
The Palace Downtown Dubai
Tel: 04 428 7961
Chow for now!