My meal at Thiptara was not paid for in cash. I went there on a media invite, however the opinions expressed within this post are entirely my own.
For my mom’s birthday dinner and last meal of her recent trip to Dubai, I couldn’t think of a better option than Thiptara. We all love Thai food, the last time I went to Thiptara (for their Friday brunch, with my sister), was fan-friggin-tastic, and I knew Mummy would love the views of Burj Khalifa and the fountain show. It was going to be perfect!
Sadly, it fell just a little short of being perfect. For a couple of reasons, The Palace didn’t feel as palatial as it used to. For starters, there was a gaudy wedding taking place by the poolside (they had booked out all the cabanas), which we passed by on our way to Thiptara. The Indian music, horribly decorated stage and bright table runners completely took away from the usual elegance one can expect at The Palace. For seconds, we had just had a series of exceptionally good meals in the preceding days (the first at Tong Thai and the second at Carnival By Tresind), so the bar was naturally set high.
Brushing the eyesore of a wedding aside, we stepped into Thiptara with an open mind. A warm hostess welcomed us and showed us to our table, close to the window with a partial view (the rest concealed by a giant pillar) of the fountains and Burj Khalifa. She suggested we try one of the two set menus, so that we can try a little bit of everything. A media gift awaited on my table. My ever-growing collection of bag hangers and key rings grew by one each. What does a girl have to do to score a candle around here??
A quick glance at the set menus confirmed her suggestion to be a good one, so we went with the Gold River set menu priced at AED 358 pp. The only thing we requested for to be changed, was to have two Tom Kha soups instead of all 3 Tom Yum, and to have the Black Cod with Chu Chee sauce instead of the duck. I wish I had also requested for the Green Curry to be prepared with chicken instead of steamed Sea Bass, but we’ll get to that later.
The starters all came in one sharing platter. I loved the Thai deep-fried crab cakes. My mom is a total sell-out for vegetable spring rolls, so she thoroughly enjoyed those. The beef satay weren’t bad, but nothing to write home about. The steamed chicken, shrimp, squid and tobiko eggs dim sum was delicious.
What my mom and M really loved was the legit spicy Pomelo Salad. I’m much more of a Som Tam person, but I decided to take one (or, well, give one up) for the team.
The Tom Kha was very coconutty, and while I love that, I think it could have done with a touch more galangal for added fragrance and depth. The Tom Yum was most unimpressive. It lacked the spicy, velvety, luciousness and depth that one expects from a Tom Yum.
The mains were a tad less impressive than our salivating tastebuds expected them to be. Like most “fine dining” Thai restaurants in Dubai, presentation was standard “Thai casual”, but prices, the standard, “Dubai expensive”. Only one main could be categorized as “bad”, but first, let’s talk about the things we loved:
The Black Cod in Chu-Chee sauce was one of our favorites of the night. With a sweet & sour touch, this was by far a more Chinese tasting dish than Thai, but we loved it.
Another dish I wanted to wipe clean that night was that of the stir-fried veggies. They still had a snappy bite to them, and we could taste the freshness of the vegetables, which wasn’t overpowered by the sauce.
A not-so-bad-but-I-wouldn’t-order-it-again dish was that of the Tiger Prawns in Oyster Sauce with Thai Basil.
The most unforgettable main we had that night was the Green Curry with Seabass, but not for good reason. The curry itself was sheer perfection, but the Seabass had an unbearably strong and unpleasant smell.
After dinner, we shared 2 desserts instead of getting one each. We had some mango and sticky rice, and a Tub Tim Krob. The former did not disappoint but the latter was a bit odd as it came with coconut ice-cream. I’m all for unconventional fusions, but in this instance, I just missed the good old Tub Tim Krob from Chatuchak Market. This is when the very sweet and humble chef (a lady from Vietnam) came out to ask us how the meal went and expressed great interest in receiving our feedback.
I had mentioned during my reservation that it’s my mom’s birthday and we don’t really need anything special except for a table with a nice view, but we weren’t even offered the standard polaroid for special occasions. I asked on my way out if they still do those, when the hostess suddenly gasped, insisted we back in for 5 minutes, took us to an absolutely stunning, almost secret floating deck, where there was apparently an “empty table for only 5 minutes as the guests hadn’t arrived yet”. We were warmly served a birthday cheesecake here, had our polaroid snap taken, and reminded how we only have 5 minutes. The feeling of being rushed and being done a favor by being granted access to “premium” seating for only 5 minutes was not flattering in the least and left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth, especially becase I’ve grown used to receiving the most premium of experiences (I’m not a diva, nope).
This most recent experience at Thiptara is a perfect example of how no matter how great and consistent a restaurant is and how good of a reputation it enjoys, it can still have a bad day, and sadly, I think I ended up there on that bad/high-traffic day. Halfway through the meal, I decided to request some coconut water, and after a few minutes, I noticed a puddle dripping on to the floor. My coconut was leaking. Our server was quick to replace it, however, the puddle on the floor was not cleaned up, and it drenched my mom’s bag in the process. Regardless, I’d like to thank the team for hosting us on such a busy night.