I’m an Indian girl with Chinese food in my genes. While I was a hungry fetus in my mom’s womb, my dad used to take us to this Chinese restaurant in Cochin, called Malaya. There would be a dusty yellow light hanging on top of an age-old plastic table, with a small cat roaming around its legs, which the waiter enjoyed shooing to the next empty table. But the food was probably the best Chinese food in the whole of India. After I was born, I got lucky enough to enjoy its taste first-hand (instead of depending on my mom’s umbilical cord) and from that moment, Chinese food was one of my strong loves.
Coming to Dubai, finding a Chinese restaurant that I can frequent has been quite a difficult job. Not because there aren’t any worth going. Because there are too many to round on! Off the lot, a place I have been to thrice already is the Royal Orchid. Located in the Marina Pavilion of the Dubai Festival City, this stylish Chinese & Thai Restaurant has easily turned out to be one of my favorites.
When I’m so crazy about Chinese cuisine, my husband obviously HAS GOT TO hate it. So coaxing him to agree on my choice is tricky at times. This time, my weapon of convincing was in the form of a “Buy one main course, get one free” voucher from the Gulf News Dining book. Flipping that paper in my hand, I guided him to the Royal Orchid doors, past their romantic outdoor seating, (where Sheesha is served) after damning the summer heat. The Marina promenade qualifies as a romantic walk, and holding hands will definitely make it easier for you to drag your Chinese-hating spouse towards this pretty restaurant with a bowl of crispies and kickass flavorful sauces on the tables to welcome you. And with their Buy One-Get one vouchers, you may have to tug much less harder too!
I have always found their interiors attractive and classy, with splashes of Cream, Beige and a velvety pink all around. For those with a problem towards sofas, can comfortably team up with the many chairs around the tables. Wherever you decide to sit, the waiters will be glad to light romantic candles on your table and will be just a glance away from noting down your needs. After much deliberation, we decided on the Phad Thai Chicken Noodles, the Wok Fried Tenderloin With Assorted Peppers and the Kai Phad Med Ma Muang (which is basically a Thai Chicken gravy preparation with mushrooms and cashews).
The star in their menu is the Magic Wok, where you select what you want (Lamb, Chicken, Mixed Seafood, Prawns, Tofu) along with the curry you want it in. Now, the curry is an incredible selection of Thai or Chinese sauces, which once you order depending on your taste, comes mixed with the former in a wok, giving an irresistible aroma, easily good for two. I had tried this masterpiece during my first visit and had gone all googoo-gaga, but to have it again, without trying the other recommendations they have in the menu, would be totally unfair to my palate and the Chef alike. And I must say, the new order did not let me down at all.
The Phad Thai Chicken Noodles was, to put in Sajin’s words, “An omlette version of the American Chopsuey.” There was a giant omlette spread over the noodles, which made Sajin’s day (apart from the fact that ANYTHING with egg on it will make his day!), and he was pacified for the rest of the meal. Though we both would have liked the noodles to be a little less oily.
The chicken dish was perfect. It had a sweet sauce along with mushrooms, which took care of my excitement levels, while the roasted cashews liberally dotting the dish, took care of my husband’s. Other than the fork-knife fight between us for the cashews towards the end, this dish did not cause any conflict in our interests at all.
The wok-fried tenderloin was blander off the lot. The meat was tender, the gravy was rich and the veggies were fresh and crunchy. Whatever mattered, they had it in order.
Once the hunger pangs were in control and the plates were scraped clean, it was time for me to start on my Review Act all alone. Yeah, after feeding him Chinese food that he dislikes, I apparently could not count on my husband for any help other than photography.
I asked the nearest bearer if there was any way I could speak to the Chef. He seemed troubled, wondering if I have some complaint to make. I explained that I maintain a blog about the restaurants I dine in and would like to add something about the Chef, if he wouldn’t mind. Upon this, the Waiter-in-charge came to our table, followed by the Area Manager.
Finally Mr. Sandup Lepcha, the head Chef of Royal Orchid, complete in his white MasterChef style uniform came to our table, where he explained he is from India, and that while the Thai dishes in the menu are all traditional authentic Thai dishes with all ingredients directly imported from Thailand, the Chinese dishes are his own works. He, along withSharma, the Area Manager, showed us the menu of their sister-restaurants and took us through the Best Sellers in the Thai and Chinese cuisines.
Anyway if you are wondering why I’m not talking about their dessert options, it isn’t because they don’t have any. From Date rolls with nutty chocolate sauce, to Chilled mango cream with Sago pearls, from Banana fritters to Kha Nooh Chan, also called the Rainbow, all ranging about Dhs 30, the dessert menu seemed impressive. Chef recommendation- Banana Fritters with icecream! Tried, tested and appreciated by thousands of their patrons!
Sadly, with a tummy full of juicy Phad Thai and crunchy Kai Phad, there was no scope left for the desserts this time. Well, fortunately, there is always a next time when it comes to Royal Orchid!!