Thai Orchid Restaurant Reviewed November/December 2014
Thai Orchid in The Regent Village offers indoor air-conditioned dining
He’s known throughout these parts as simply, ‘JP’. A jack-of-all-trades and a master of many, JP is also known for his driving passion for the game of golf. But more importantly, at least in my books, JP is celebrated as the man who brought the authentic taste of Thailand to Providenciales nearly two decades ago.
Born and raised in Bangkok, JP was taught the art of Thai cuisine from his mother. He opened Bangkok Express in early 2005 at the urging of friends, familiar fans of his culinary talents. To cater to his ever-growing resident and tourist following JP relocated to the Regent Village in Grace Bay many moons ago and renamed his restaurant Thai Orchid. Daily and nightly, a steady stream of repeat take-out and dine-in customers (check out the newly redecorated dining room) validate Thai Orchid’s popularity, and its reputation for consistency. Chef Uaichai hails from northern Bangkok and has been with JP for seven years.
Snapper Choo Chee #45 with Thai Tea and Jasmine Rice at Thai Orchid.
The West, including the island of Providenciales, has enthusiastically embraced these exotic and far-flung flavours; the intense tastes, unique textures and distinctive ingredients that are all key elements of these traditional and authentic recipes.
An extensive and appealing menu offers over 60 selections of that succulent mix of the sweet and the piquant and the spicy and the subtle. Most menu items are prepared on the mild side but the Chef is happy to oblige the more adventurous, if you prefer extra spice just ask for 1, 2 or 3 chilies … but JP cautions … be careful.
Beginning with Shrimp Cakes (#66 on the menu) these “tasty little bites” of minced shrimp, curry and kaffir lime leaves were deep-fried and served with a lovely sweet and sour dipping sauce with crushed peanuts. They were an appetising and tasty diversion while we went about the difficult task of choosing our dishes. Approbation and applause go to my dining companion for suggesting this next dish of Vegetable Tempura (#49) which I would probably not have selected on a Thai menu, favouring a more unusual dish. It was a crispy, crunchy and delectable surprise of battered chunks of cauliflower, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, green beans and even baby corn. This was great for sharing, but you just may want to eat the entire dish yourself … including the fabulous peanut sauce. I wanted to slather it all over everything … including my husband.
Vegetable Tempura #49, great to share at Thai Orchid.
JP’s Crispy Duck (#48) is utterly divine. This was a heaving portion of half a roasted duck served with crispy noodles and a garlic sweet chili sauce. The duck is marinated overnight, roasted for two hours and then it’s frozen before deep frying. As soon as the duck hit the table I greedily and unabashedly seized all the random crispy bits that littered the platter. The crispy duck skin simply and lusciously melted and liquefied in my mouth. I became distracted and distanced in my state of culinary nirvana, blathering incoherently. Across the table, my favourite dining companion, who was equally preoccupied and lost in her divine duck, paused ever so briefly to confess, “If I had a last meal in my life, this would be it!”
The classic noodle dish, Pad Thai (#14) is probably the most legendary and popular Thai dish. We opted for shrimp in this satisfying medley of rice noodles pan fried with egg, chicken or shrimp, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. If you’ve never experienced Thai and are a bit timid about what to order, Pad Thai is an ideal initiation.
Pad Thai with Chicken and Peanut Sauce #14 at Thai Orchid Restaurant.
Chicken Mango Curry (#56) is made with a Karee curry sauce and coconut milk – Karee is simply another type of curry. Chunks of tender, sweet, juicy mango and chicken floated in a deluge of this silky, sumptuous sauce that we were tempted to eat like a soup. This dish received a unanimous and animated “WOW.”
JP offers up a veritable cornucopia of curries including red, green, yellow, panang, masaman and Karee. The intensity and character of each curry originates with its paste and becomes the heart, soul and foundation of each irresistible creation. With all the different curries, I was curious to ask JP what the difference was between red, green and yellow curry. I should have known better than to ask. He grinned, laughed and said, “When you eat it – you know.”
A dish by the name of Snapper Choo Chee (#45) brought about enough collective curiosity to persuade us to order it. JP explained that Choo Chee is a type of dry curry. Adding, “We don’t want too much sauce – keep it dry”. The fish is battered and deep fried … but “Not too long!” JP emphasised. Considered a mild dish on the Thai scale, we remarked on the firm texture of the fish and were all convinced … this dish was “seriously good.”
Thai Orchid’s Crispy Duck #48
On the libation side, we went in a few different directions to experience how compatible each beverage was when paired with the food. On the intoxicating side, there are a few appropriate libations that pair well with Thai food. To compliment these spicy and exotic dishes choose a well-chilled, spicy white wine and avoid wines that are ‘oaked’ or high in acidity. The general rule of thumb is: the spicier the dish, the sweeter the wine. That said, there is also a consensus amongst experts who advocate a frosty, cold beer. A Thai brew is the perfect accompaniment to offset the intense flavour and heat. JP offers up the refreshing and authentic taste of Singha, served in a very frosty mug.
I have to admit that I was really impressed with the Thai Iced Tea – it looked like a milkshake and this rich, creamy concoction with exotic spices was absolutely refreshing, and it’s non-alcoholic.
As we sat and reflected on our dishes this evening, we observed that it was amazing how quickly everything comes out of the kitchen. I couldn’t help but ask JP, “What’s the most popular dish?” He just grinned and said, “Everything.”
He explained that the tastes of Thailand differ by region … a different taste in the North, very spicy in the NE adding with a grin, “I can’t eat that!” He returns to Thailand every year but admits now when he orders Thai dishes he says, “No spicy for me!” JP and his mother, who is now 84, still enjoy Thai cuisine together … but neither of them cooks; they dine out.
Outside dining at Thai Orchid.
When I asked him to name his favourite non-Thai food, his expression took on a faraway gaze and a sparkle came to his eyes. Without hesitation and accompanied by animated gestures, he said, “I like steak. Thick like that – big like that.” His favourite is the Longhorn Steak House in the US.
Remember, careful on the extra ‘chilies’ but throw all caution to the wind and choose with wild abandon when it comes to ordering. Order with gusto, guts and enthusiasm and ‘Thai-one-on’ … after all, one of the best things about Thai is the leftovers.
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