Thai-Baan: Affordable Thai in Mumbai

An invitation for an exclusive luncheon is enough to cheer one’s spirits. But make it an invitation from a Thai restaurant and my spirits are more than cheered. They are positively ecstatic! The humble and utterly likable Richard Dias of Gourmet Renaissance attempted to preside over this lunch party consisting of journalists, food writers and bloggers. And we were as bowled over by his plans which included an Indonesian restaurant and a soon to be opened beer pub in South Mumbai.

Thai-Baan Mumbai menu
A 3.2 km walk from CST station to the restaurant (next to Charagh Din on Wodehouse Road, Colaba) helped me build an appetite for the four-course meal. Yes, I’m crazy like that.

If you’re a fan of Thai food, you’ll know that Thai Pavilion is the only serious Thai restaurant in Mumbai and its five star status makes it inaccessible to most of the public. Enter Chef Richard Dias who decides to quit the hallowed environs of Thai Pavilion in 1996 and set up his own Thai restaurant in Bandra. In his own words, “I couldn’t afford to take my own fiance to Thai Pavilion! That’s when I decided to open my own restaurant.” Around two months ago, the restaurant shifted base to Colaba but yesterday was the first official media meet-up.

Thai-Baan Mumbai entrance
This colourful entrance made me nostalgic about my trip to Thailand in January, as did the rest of the meal. Then again, my culinary adventures in Bangkok ensured that I could assess the food here like an expert.
A cosy table was waiting for us upstairs.
A cosy table was waiting for us upstairs.

A look at the menu convinced me that Richard had indeed stayed true to his goal. Most of the dishes are priced at 150 – 250 rupees, making a meal here quite pocket-friendly. And the food is several notches higher than the humbler 38 Bangkok Street at Fort. For starters, we delved our way through broccoli, tofu and bell pepper satay; fried spring roll; chicken satay and tossed prawns in Thai sauce. I simply loved the vegetarian spring rolls for their crispness and delicious filling.

Fried spring rolls at Thai-Baan Mumbai
By the time I was done with the starters, I felt like I was done with the entire meal. But make no mistake, I still managed to taste everything on the menu.
Vegetable satay at Thai Baan Mumbai
This is the vegetable satay and those succulent chunks aren’t paneer but tofu. I for one, love the taste of tofu, which is soybean curd.
Prawns at Thai Baan Mumbai
Prawns, tossed in a mildly spiced Thai roasted paste
Kaffir lime mocktail at Thai Baan Mumbai
This citrusy kaffir lime mocktail kept me hydrated even as I worked my way through all the food. I think the ones who opted for passion fruit iced tea missed out on a lot!

If you’ve never tried Thai food before, I hope you enjoy the taste of peanuts, lemongrass and tamarind; not to mention the spicy Thai chili peppers, because these ingredients tend to dominate Thai cuisine. In Bangkok and Kanchanaburi, many restaurants had watered down the spices used in the dishes to cater to foreign tastes. And I suspect Indian restaurants do the same. “Thai Baan is about comfort food. We’re aiming at simplicity,” Richard told us. And I think that’s exactly what he’s achieved.

Tom yum soup at Thai Baan Mumbai
For the second course, we were served a vegetarian and non-vegetarian version of the famed Tom Yum soup (pictured above).
Pad Thai at Thai-Baan Mumbai
This was followed by the sweet and tangy papaya salad garnished with peanut powder – my personal favourite. I must say, it tasted almost the same as the one served at Methavalai Sorndaeng restaurant in Bangkok.

Richard shocked us by saying that he planned to open 36 more restaurants in the coming months, encompassing 350 different cuisines. If you’re a chef looking for a job, you know whom to call. We also met Suniel Bharwani, the co-founder of Gourmet Renaissance Private Limited and “a man of few words”. Although the interiors at Thai-Baan are not too fancy, they are cosy and warm. And in an increasingly competitive business (90% of restaurants are shutting down according to Richard), I think warm scores over stuffy any day. And now, over to the mains.

Pad Thai at Thai Baan Mumbai
I just cannot get enough of Pad Thai, the tossed flat noodle dish that’s synonymous with Thai cuisine.
Green curry at Thai-Baan Mumbai
I had this heavenly green curry with fragrant steamed rice. Red curry is also great but I’m partial towards the green one.
Fish at Thai-Baan Mumbai
This is fish in chilly, garlic and basil.
Thai-Baan Mumbai
Yes, I know my plate looks messy but that’s what happens when you have too much food to eat and (burrp!) too little time to eat.

By the end of the main course, I knew I had reached my gastronomical limit. But I do have a massive sweet tooth and there was no way I was going to skip the desserts. Thai people are not big on heavy desserts but they do have an enviable variety of fruit-based, light sweet dishes. That explains their thin waistlines, eh?

Tum Tim Grob at Thai-Baan Mumbai
I drank copious amounts of the cool and refreshing Tum Tim Grob – diced water chestnuts in coconut milk, topped with ice.
Roti khelna at Thai-Baan Mumbai
This is roti khelna, rolled pancakes with sliced bananas and raisins. It looks better than it tasted. Or maybe, that’s just my Tum Tim Grob loving soul.
Richard Dias and Suniel Bharwani of Gourmet Renaissance Pvt Ltd
I would like to thank Richard for making a mid-week afternoon so unexpectedly delicious and soul-satisfying.

If you’re planning to hop over to Thai-Baan Colaba for your next lunch date, here’s what you need to know:

Address: Shop 2C, Ratan Manzil, Wodehouse Road, Colaba, Mumbai
Opening hours: 12 Noon to 11:30 PM
Serves: Vegetarian and non-vegetarian (Bar not available)
Cost for two: Rs 900
Call for reservations: 022 33126914

Thai Baan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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