The beating heart of Dusit Thani Lakeview Cairo, Ruen Thai stays true to the real tastes and techniques of Thailand, as we discovered when we got a sneak peek ahead of its reopening this Thursday.
While Asian cuisine is experiencing somewhat of a heyday in Egypt, most Thai restaurants – big or small – leave us a little confused. Go high end, and you’ll be tormented by strange, spa-like music more suited to massages than meals. And that’s not to mention the tiny, ‘haute cuisine’ portions that might pack in some flavour but literally leave you hungrier than when you walked in. Go low end, and you might get some seriously authentic food – but what does that matter when the service stinks, the table is wonky, and the décor hasn’t changed since 1992?
Relaunching this Thursday, 16th November, the Dusit Thani Lakeview’s Ruen Thai restaurant promises to redefine dining and, judging by our sneak peek ahead of the huge event, they’re set to deliver on that promise. We mean, who better to set the standard for Thai cuisine in Cairo than Thailand’s first and foremost luxury hospitality brand?
Though we headed to Ruen Thai before its official relaunch, the sprawling restaurant was already buzzing with guests from all over the globe, filling the place with laughter and chatter in at least four languages. Adding to the cosmopolitan vibe, before we even reach our table, one thing becomes abundantly clear: no clingy clangy spa music here! Instead, we were treated to smooth, upbeat House – the kind you want to nod your head and tap your foot to, not the kind that makes you want to rave.
Separated into a main dining area, two private rooms, a bright and airy terrace and huge, floor-to-ceiling, alabaster-clad bar, Ruen Thai is certainly Instagram material and accommodates everyone from business-lunchers to after-work-drinkers, and those looking for a special night out. Before we’d even settled into our seats, we were promptly greeted with palate cleansing lemon-grass shots and those warm scented towels only hotels know how to roll and heat.
With an extensive wine and cocktails menu, we were spoiled for choice when picking out a little tipple to get the evening started, but settled for a citrusy white wine, recommended by the staff. With that out of the way, it was on to the food. Perhaps some of the best-loved Thai dishes, we kicked off with grilled chicken and beef satay served with peanut and ajad sauce (Satay Ruam), crispy wrapped shrimp with sweet chilli sauce (Pratad Lom Sai Goong) and Thailand’s iconic green papaya salad (Som Tam Thai). Don’t judge us – we were hungry.
The satay sticks were perfectly cooked and seasoned, with the meat practically falling off the skewers. Plump and not overcooked like many restaurants do them, we re-ordered the crispy wrapped shrimp twice and soaked up all the sauce. Clearly using only the finest and freshest vegetables, the green papaya salad is without doubt the best we’ve had in Cairo. With a perfect balance of sweetness, spice, crunch and colour, it was the ideal precursor to our main course.
But before we even got to our mains, and thanks to the staff’s insistence that we have a true Thai experience, we tried out the soul-warming and perfectly spiced Tom Yum Goong soup. Brimming with succulent prawn and mushrooms, it hit all the right notes; spicy but not painfully so, aromatic but not overwhelming.
Next, we opted for some classic Thai curries: green chicken curry with eggplant and basil (Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai), beef curry with kaffir lime leaf (Panaeng Nuea) and red duck curry with pineapple, grape, and basil (Gaeng Phed Ped Yang). Choosing a favourite is tough – this is what mothers must feel like – but perhaps the most interesting of three was the duck. Perfecting the delicate balance between sweet and sour, creamy and tangy, the succulent slices of duck breast and brilliant sauce were accompanied with freshly steamed rice. An all-time favourite of any Thai food aficionado, the green chicken curry was easily the best we’ve had in years.
Wrapping up the night with a flaming shot and a hand-made coconut sorbet (delightfully served inside a coconut shell), our four-course feast left us feeling surprisingly light. Using fresh, high quality ingredients, and taking it easy on the salt and fat, the expert Thai team running the kitchen stay true to the tastes and techniques of Thailand meaning you can eat to your stomach’s content without the heaviness that tends to come part-and-parcel of Asian dining in Cairo. With tens of dishes we’re yet to try, Ruen Thai has cemented itself as an integral part of our eating rotation.
Shoot by @MO4Production
Photography by Muhammed Mortada
Food styling by Mohamed Al Buheiry
*The content of this article is sponsored.