Pinang Restaurant and Bar at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Batu Feringghi is currently offering a delightful “Thaipas”menu which is literally a combination of Tapas style of presentation with Thai recipes done Rasa Sayang style.
Presentation of these dishes is art on a plate and the taste is toned down in the spice department so that those of us without asbestos lined mouths can enjoy the delicacy of the ingredients and the combinations of the flavours.
The setting is a paradise beach bar a stones throw away from the beach with panoramic views across the bay, with picturesque fishing boats anchored just off-shore, to the verdant green hills in the distance. shaded under the ancient and regal trees dining alfresco is not too much of a chore even when the sun is beating down on you.
We started with the Tom Yum Goong shooter which is the Thai traditional spicy soup which to be honest is not one of my personal Thai favorites.
This however, like most things culinery at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, comes with a total upgrade on the traditional. Where the traditional is normally watery and yet oily at the same time and raspingly spicy, catching the back of the throat just about every time, this version is smooth as silk (toned down with an infusion of Truffle Oil) and mildly spicy.
Complimented with a large prawn decoratively draped over th edge of the demitasse that it is served in. This is more than a taster and less than a starter size portion. This is a perfect way to sample food without being a glutton nor breaking the bank. I love this style of menu and hope that more restaurants adopt this innovative thinking from Shangri-La.
The next dish sampled was the Penang Laksa which was not really to my taste and nowhere near as delicious as the Tom Yam Goong shooters. Taste is something subjective though and my tastes will vary from your tastes and every dish was wonderfully prepared and presented.
The most popular Thai dish for foreigners offered on this menu will be the Som Tam. This papaya salad is unique in taste and texture and could sum up Thai cuisine. Raw ingredients presented with the universal triumverate of sweet, sour and spicy.
The Shangri-La twist in this version wa the use of Cashew nuts in place of the humble Peanut and adds a level of sophistication to an otherwise simple dish.
Som Tam is fine slices of green Papaya mixed with carrot served in a sauce of cane sugar, chillies and fish sauce.
This is prepared in a mortar and pestle (Pok-Pok – which is the sound it makes as the pestle beats rythmically down on to the mortar) which gentle bruises the ingredients and infuses the flavours into a perfect blend.
I then moved on to the Miang Kham which is again raw vegetables and herbs wrapped inside a shiny wild pepper leaf. The ingredients include finely chopped lime, desiccated coconut, ginger, cashew nut, chili and shallots. The entire bundle is popped into the mouth and eaten in one go.
A Penang favourite came next Chicken Pie Tee or Top Hats. This is a Nyonya delicacy which has delicate crispy brown shells filled with minced chicken and coriander. This once again surprised me with its delicate flavours and has a similar appeal to spring rolls as the crispy exterior is tempered with a succulent savoury chicken mixture and the combination was a treat to both the eye and the stomach.
After trying the Top Hats I thought it wise to sample the spring rolls which can be found just about everywhere in Thailand as well as most hawker stalls in Penang. as expected the Shangri-La version had an added level of both presentation and delivery.
This time the twist came not so much in the presentation or novel ingredient but the dipping sauce that accompanied it. Much to my amazement it was served with mint jelly sauce which on first arrival I thought would never go with Spring Rolls!
It did, and superbly too!!
Almost full to bloating now but with much still to sample on the menu I soldiered on in the name of science – OK, not science but because there was so much good food on offer I could not stop.
The setting of the Pinang Restaurant and Bar offers you the ideal opportunity to take your time and savour the surroundings. The crashing surf, the glistening sea and the bobbing fishing boats further along the shore all calls out for you to relax and enjoy a lazy lunch.
The arrival on the beach of a Snake Charmer who deftly handles a Cobra not 20 feet away adds to the amusement and enjoyability of the Pinang Restaurant and Bar. In the opposite direction you glance over to the swimming pool of the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa and you can see families enjoying the sunny climate and the welcome shade of the ancient trees that this property is famous for.
Back to more from the Thaipas menu.
The last of the savoury dishes on my list was the Tod Man Pla (Thai fish cakes). Again these are not amongst my favorite dishes as they are normally served in the markets of Thailand with too much batter and not enough fish but this would never be a problem at Shangri-La so I dived in feet first.
As expected the flavour was far superior and the texture more enjoyable than any Tod Man Pla I had ever experienced previously. Served with a spicy and honeyed dipping sauce which was liberally dressed with chillies to add the right amount of heat and flavour. Well worth the effort of stretching my overfull stomach another degree.
To round off the meal two dessert were selected. My personal favorite Thai dessert of Mango – Stcky Rice was given the Shangri-La twist in the dish Mango Rock and Roll. Sticky rice is wrapped inside a wafer thin, crispy and light shell and deep fried. This is served in a shot glass with a mango coulis. A totally new presentation on an ages old traditional dish and a most memorable way to come to the end of a meal.
The other dessert chosen was not one I would normally opt for as Sago Pudding has unfavourable memories of stodgy school meals. This Sago Gula Melaka could not have been further from those memories however. This light sago pearl pudding is served with dark and treacly brown palm sugar syrup and coconut cream and topped for decoration with a mint leaf. Scrumptious!!
The beauty of this menu for me is that it could form a wonderful light lunch (providing you don’t get tempted to eat the entire menu like me!!) or as shared snacks over a sundowner at this most delightful bar. You really could not have a more relaxing location for a wind-down drink and Thaipas snack nor a more romantic one if you went with your sweet-heart.
Thaipas is served daily between the hours of 10am and 10pm and is excellent value with dishes from RM 14++. Let us know your thoughts after you have visited the Pinang Restaurant and Bar at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa; we value your opinions.