ISLAMABAD: Finding good Thai food in Islamabad has always been a challenge. Therefore, it was not surprising to see people rejoicing after Tiger Temple opened up in the capital’s Beverly Center. The restaurant is the brainchild of Sana Nadeem Taj and Shahram Sheikh, both of whom are Thai food enthusiasts themselves. Talking to The Express Tribune, Nadeem shared that she is particularly fond of the cuisine because of its strong flavours. “We just knew that everyone who would try it would love it. Islamabad was in need of something new and exciting and we are happy that we got the chance to provide just that. We wanted to make it easier for people to enjoy a bowl of Pad Thai or Tom Kha Kai.”
The minimalistic, white décor that welcomes you inside sets the mood right for a Thai feast. When I tried Tiger Temple for lunch with my friends, we started off with the popular Goong Tohd Prawns. As difficult as it may be to pronounce, it was delicious! These panko crusted and deep fried butterfly jumbo prawns come with a spicy sriracha sauce that makes them even more enjoyable.
The Chicken and Mushroom Dumplings are great too. The dumplings are rich Chinese mushrooms and chicken hand wrapped and deep-fried or pan steamed as per the choice of the customer. The tangy dip with it makes it even more appetising.
Among the soups, my friend tried the Tom Kha and she was all praises for it. Essentially, a coconut base soup with straw mushrooms and baby corn blended in an exciting galangal and lime broth, the Tom Kha is creamy but healthy at the same time and can be ordered in chicken, prawn or fish. One cannot go wrong with this entrée but its heavy, so don’t expect to indulge in a big main course right after.
The Chili and Basil Chicken with a bowl of rice is a pleasing main course. The chicken is well cooked with the right amount of spices stirred with fresh seasonal vegetables and fresh basil topped with fiery Thai chilies.
If there is one entrée that was a disappointment, it’s the Pad Thai. The noodles used in it are Italian and not Thai and the dish tasted extremely bland.
The presentation is stunning to say the least. From the starters to the main course, each dish looked like a work of art. Some of them are so stunning that we didn’t want to spoil them by digging in.
The atmosphere is probably the only category where Tiger Temple loses marks. Even though it is aesthetically designed with white tones and bright art work featuring tiger paintings on the walls, the space is quite small and can become a little crowded and claustrophobic when full, which it has been several times so far. Just a tad bit more space would have made the place look even better, especially during rush hour.
Since the space is small and the demand is very high, orders tend to take a little while. A little more efficiency and training on the kitchen’s end can speed up this process.
Verdict: If you are heading to Tiger Temple, expect a treat for the taste buds but be prepared to experience minor glitches when it comes to the service.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.