Matthew Herbst heads East for some late-night Thai fare with a flair for flavours galore.
Thai food is one of the world’s most popular cuisines and is renowned for what is called the “Five Tastes”: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and hot. With this in mind, I was excited to try Thai Express, which can be found in the food court at Oman Avenues Mall.
It all makes for an addictive combination for the senses, providing a perfect balance of flavours in pretty much every dish, from the popular green, red and yellow curries to the tom yum soups and everything else in between.
I invited my friend and colleague, Merge 104.8’s Neal Bowden, who used to live in Thailand and is also a huge fan of its cuisine.
It was a late start as we didn’t arrive at the mall until nearly 10.30pm but we scraped in by just 30 minutes, allowing us to indulge our late-night craving for some decent Thai food.
Thai Express is exactly that – a very fast service and a small menu that offers the usual top favourites: spring rolls and fish cakes, salads, Thai fried rice, curries, spicy stir-fries, soups and one dessert.
The service was very good and the server paid attention to what we were ordering, even going so far as to offer a combo meal that saved us about RO3.
We kicked off with the thos man pla, or fried fish cakes, and spring rolls as our starters. Neither was anything to write home about. The fish cakes were bland and quite oily while the spring rolls failed to live up to their crispiness and had an odd flavour.
For our main course, we plumped for the tom yum kung, a spicy tomato-based soup with chicken. Neal said that it wasn’t as spicy as you’d get in Thailand but still it was very enjoyable and could have been enhanced in flavour with a little more lemongrass, one of the foundations of Thai cooking.
I had the tom kha gai, another chicken soup but this one was coconut milk-based. It’s not the best version I’ve had but it was tasty and worth ordering. It could have benefited from a little more spice to prevent the coconut milk from being too overpowering. However, the chicken was juicy and tender and I would have preferred cherry tomatoes rather than sliced.
Next up was the kang dang, a classic Thai red curry, chicken with cashew nuts and dried chilli, and a stir-fried beef dish with chilli and green beans.
The star of the mains show for Neal was the Thai red curry. Flavoursome, fragrant and with a wonderful depth of flavour, Neal said the chicken was tender and it also had a slight spicy kick. But I found it to be a little too salty for my taste.
My favourite was the chilli beef dish. It had an incredible taste of chillies and came with quite a hefty kick in the heat department. The beef was very tender and melted in the mouth while the greens provided a lovely crunch and balance to the dish. All dishes came with bowls of rice, also perfectly executed.
We had just enough time (and space) to squeeze in dessert. The one on offer at Thai Express was another classic: mango and sticky rice. The rice was soaked in coconut milk with a dash of honey and sugar, and a touch of salt to enhance the flavours. It was a very sweet dessert but the mango managed to cut through this with its slight tang and acidity.
Would we go back? Absolutely – only next time, we’ll get there a little earlier to savour our meal and enjoy the passing parade.
Do you have a favourite restaurant that you’d like to see reviewed? Let Y know at email@example.com
Food Court, Oman Avenues Mall, Ghubra
Opening Hours: Daily from 10am-11pm
Meal for two with drinks: RO20.50
9 / 10 Service
7 / 10 Food
7.5 / 10 Ambience
Super-fast, efficient service for a quick Thai fix