Situated next to Rhythm House in Bombay's Kalaghoda area, Sanuk Thai shares space with two of the city's better-known restaurants - the Wayside Inn on the left, and Copper Chimney on the right. And in a city with only four Thai restaurants, It's quickly carving out a place for itself as one of the better ones.
The restaurant is quite large, with around fifteen tables on the ground floor (there are additional tables on a higher level) and is decorated with antique figurines and artifacts for that authentic Thai feel. The lighting is dim and mostly artificial - it's adequate for dining purposes, but this is not a place to visit if you plan to read a book with your meal.
The menu is varied, with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Amongst the starters, I'd recommend the steamed wontons with garlic (Rs. 140.00), or the tempura-fried prawns (Rs. 230.00); another long-time favourite is the chicken satay, marinated strips of chicken served in peanut sauce (Rs. 180.00). Vegetarians can skip straight to the salad section, which has some very interesting spicy cabbage and chilli (Rs. 140.00), while meat-eaters again get the better end of the deal with the chicken with roasted rice (Rs. 180.00) and the grilled red meat with cucumber and herbs (Rs. 180.00)
Thailand is known for its fiery soups, and you'll find some of them here as well - try the Tom Yum Phak (Rs. 110.00) or the Tom Yum Ghoong Rue Pla (Rs. 150.00), both soups that give you a fairly good idea of why soup is so popular with Thai meals. With that out of the way, move on the main course; the baby corn with garlic and beans (Rs. 190.00) is fairly good, while on-vegetarians won't be able to keep from drooling when they try the stir-fried prawns in pepper (Rs. 400.00). Sea-food lovers should definitely try the steamed pomfret with lemon sauce (Rs. 600.00), while the more adventurous can try the soft chicken/pork/fish in hot sauce (Rs. 250.00).
Most dishes are to be eaten with either rice or noodles - you can choose from steamed rice (the best, since it doesn't interfere with the flavour of the other dishes), fried rice, wet or dry noodles, and assorted vegetable accompaniments. Some dishes are also meant to be eaten with fiery Thai curry - the restaurant has green, yellow and red curries available, which can be prepared with your choice of meat (Rs. 250.00 upwards), and these are definitely worth trying for the full experience.
The most disappointing area on the menu is the desserts section - there's hardly anything worth considering (unless you like fried lychees or fried noodles!), and even old standbys like chocolate mousse and tiramisu are missing.
Most items on the menu are marked with one or two chili peppers, indicating how hot they are; however, despite the maitre'd's assurances to the contrary, I found that even the items marked with two chili peppers (hottest) were quite acceptable, and I even had to spice up a couple of dishes with the supplied sauces. Service is quite slow, although the waiters are attentive, and will answer most questions knowledgeably. However, while I liked the food, I still think that the President's Thai Pavilion is way ahead in terms of both variety of dishes and ambience.
With a fair collection of dishes, Sanuk Thai is well worth a visit if you're looking for a taste of Thailand. Visit it the next time you're in the neighbourhood.This article was first published on 17 Jan 2001.