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19 ORIENTAL AVENUE, SHANGRI LA

There are a number of loyal customers who know just how good the food is at 19 Oriental Avenue.. try going there at 9 p.m. without reservations... you'll be waiting for a while! The Pan Asian restaurant's menu boasts of an eclectic selection of appetizers and entrées with soups and salads.. curries and noodle dishes.. a sizeable vegetarian selection and other Thai specialties using seafood and meat.. meeting just about everyone's culinary preference. Of late I had been hearing great things about Chef Joy from Thailand and the culinary fantasy I had harbored turned out to be better than I had envisioned.

My friends and I decided to catch up over a quiet meal on Sunday night and thought we'd beat the crowd at 8:30 p.m. but I was surprised how full the restaurant already was! The manager led me to our table overlooking Ashoka Road lined with lush green trees and brought me a Belini while I waited for my friends to join me. Chef Joy came over to introduce herself and what followed was a sparkling conversation about Indian experiences and Thai cuisine and so much more!! Time flew by and soon we had to place our order. There are no easy choices when approaching the menu so we placed ourselves in Chef Joy's hands. She noted our preferences Dinner began with soup and salads. The 'Clear Soup with Tofu' was a delicious wholesome preparation while 'Som Tam' i.e. raw papaya salad was hot and flavorful. As the conversation sparkled.. 'Pla Goong' arrived. This was a delicate perfectly seasoned salad with lemongrass and mint enhancing the natural flavor of the shrimp. Simply Delicious!

Our first entrée was the traditional 'Thai Green Curry' that I have consistently ordered here and it never fails to please. Chef Joy's version was simple and direct with a generous portion of sliced chicken and a peppery essence that perked up the curry served with a portion of Jasmine rice. The second entrée 'Stir Fried Chicken and Mushroom' with black pepper and garlic had a compelling earthiness and retained its crispness throughout. To balance these dishes Chef Joy brought us 'Stir Fried Morning Glory' which had a vitality that comes with freshness and was something we could eat alone.. it was that flavorful! My personal favorite however was 'Phad Thai Chicken'. The soy marinade blended with cloves and garlic somehow transforms the Thai rice noodles and chopped chicken breast. This review would be incomplete if I failed to mention here that the chef observed one of my friends was eating less and came over to the table to enquire. She then found out my friend could not eat spicy cuisine and thoughtfully whipped up a 'California Roll' for her. Hats off for such a warm approach which will go a long way — we were floored. 

We were having such a great time we didn't notice the restaurant was silent (we were the last ones there!) so we quickly ordered dessert: 'Mango Sticky Rice' and 'Green Tea Ice Cream'. The former is a classic Thai dessert and so very scrumptious. The sticky rice with fresh mango slices smothered with coconut sauce was pure heaven! As was the refreshing ice cream. Overall I highly recommend dinner at 19 Oriental Avenue to enjoy the excellent Thai creations of Chef Joy — you'll be glad you did. Bon Appetite! (11.05.2014)

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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19 ORIENTAL AVENUE. SHANGRI-LA. ASHOKA ROAD. NEW DELHI

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