This newly opened Thai restaurant has already become the talk of the town. A chic restaurant offering country-style Thai food right here in Mumbai, is all set to make you drool and scream, “o:h cha!” Nestled in Mathuradas Mills Compound in Lower Parel, o:h cha is often visited by dignitaries, corporates and of course, foodies. “O:h cha” in Thai means delicious, and it really is. It is a restaurant and bar, serving authentic Thai food and drinks to pair with.
Owned and run by Golden Elephant Hospitality, headed by Mr. Sanat Patel, o:h cha’s menu includes a wide range of exotic dishes. Here, you will savour some of the popular Thai dishes as well as some unfamiliar Thai favourites served both on streets and premium restaurants in Thailand. In order to give the maximum flavour to his creations, the Chef makes a lot of ingredients from scratch, including the coconut milk and the curry pastes. For vegetarians, there is an array of Thai dishes to choose from: right from the mock meats, to dishes made with morning glory, banana blossoms or tofu. For non-vegetarians, there is a good choice of dishes as well: made with chicken, pork, seafood, beef or duck. In addition, some dishes are available at varied spice levels, making the overall dining experience customised to your tastebuds and hence, all the more interesting.
The moment you step-in, you will fall in love with the ambience. The green walls, replicating paddy fields in Thailand, are calming to the eyes and soul. The lighting, in particular, is quite soothing. We loved the dimly lit bamboo lanterns hanging from the high ceiling, which quietly act as the perfect mood-uplifters. A few colourful masks of Buddha give the restaurant a divine charm. Above the bar, there is the Balinese replica of the divine bird called Garuda, which added a mystic touch to the ambience.
Chef Pipat Niyosmin, the mastermind behind the exciting and authentic Thai menu at o:h cha, is extremely informative, friendly and competent. Previously associated with leading hotel chains across the globe, the Chef was a former instructor at the Institute of Culinary Art, Bangkok. He is a Chinese, but brought up in Thailand. He grew up eating Thai food every day, cooked by his mother, from whom he learnt the basics of Thai cooking. Chef Pipat shared with us a few basic concepts of a Thai meal. The Chef advised us that if you find any Thai dish too spicy to handle, you should never drink water after that. Eating steamed jasmine rice or crisp-fried wontons instead, soaks up the fiery feel from the tongue.
If you love spicy food, then this is the right place to experience fiery hot Asian spices in your palate. At the same time, there are a number of dishes which are non-spicy as well. Chef Pipat, who earlier worked at the Oriental Octopus in Delhi, is very excited and confident about the new menu. Here in o:h cha, many ingredients are sourced internationally. Chef Pipat assured that they use the authentic Thai jasmine rice here, which has a sweet nutty taste, unlike the long-grained aromatic Indian Basmati. So drop in and taste some of their signature Thai dishes.
AN and I, along with a few other prominent foodies, were invited recently to taste the new menu. We were offered a Set Menu, consisting of six appetisers; two soups; two salads; eight main course dishes (including curries and staples) and three desserts. Here’s what we filled our tummies that evening.
The appetizers were lip-smacking. We loved the spicy and flavourful Neua dad deaw (jerk beef or dried meat) and the totally non-spicy but tasty Tad hu tod (fried tofu), which came with an interesting sauce. The tofu was perfect and I liked this simple, yet elegant dish. For those used to eating really authentic Thai meal, this gorgeous vegetarian appetizer with a spicy dip will not disappoint. Lightly fried, each piece of silken tofu just melts in the mouth, without any feel of oiliness. As the tofu is non-spicy and looks great in cubed forms, this protein-rich appetizer is a great dish to order for kids. However, this dish might taste bland if you are used to eating spicy food.
Kung tempura (Thai style Tempura prawns) was light, crispy and perfectly done. But Satay kai (marinated chicken on skewers served with peanut sauce) was not quite flavourful. There were other vegetarian options to try, such as Tod man huo plee (spicy fried banana blossom cakes) and the Poh pia sod ja (Thai fresh vegetable spring rolls).
Among the soups, we had the Tom yum kung (spicy soup with vegetables and mushrooms/prawns) first. The Tom yum soup was average here. The Tom kha pak/kai (Thai coconut soup with vegetables and mushrooms/chicken) was, however, out-of-the-world. It was very comforting and had the right flavours for me.
Among the salads, we tried two great refreshers: the vegetarian Som tam (spicy raw papaya salad) and the seafood-based Yum pla salmon mamuang sod (spicy salmon salad with raw mango, lemongrass and herbs). These two salads were just great palate cleansers before we started the main course. The Yum pla had a burst of flavours: the grated green papaya and cured salmon were complimenting each other in a great sweet-sour-spicy salad dressing, resulting in a salad which had just great balance of flavours. We could not stop ourselves taking generous helpings of Yum pla: it was one of the best dishes we tried there.
We were also served the green Pak boong fai dang (stir-fried morning glory), which tasted authentic.
I tasted a spoonful of the Thai red curry with prawns and it tasted yum. The Thai green curry was great, too. According to me, a Thai green curry should have an assortment of choicest vegetables to make it taste perfect. Although the green curry at o:h cha was delicious in itself, I would prefer my green curry with a few sweeter ingredients, such as longan, sugar snap peas and/or pumpkin cubes, and the bigger Thai aubergines are a must for me!
I liked the fact that o:h cha serves meat-substitute or mock-meat dishes as well, for its vegetarian patrons. The Mee keung pad prix Shanghai is such a dish, where the chef has created an interesting dish by stir-frying wheat protein in Shanghai-style sauce.
Another dish, called Pad kra prow (stir-fried holy basil with minced chicken), was superb. It was perfectly complimenting with the Thai jasmine rice. I also liked the very Asian and healthy Pla kow nong ma nao (steamed dory with garlic-chilli sauce). It was very light and flavourful. The Pad mee korat ja (fried rice noodles with tofu and bean sprouts) was perfectly flavoured with a sweet-and-sour sauce.
We could not taste the desserts as it was getting late. Next time, I am going to try o:h cha’s Tum tim krob, which are water-chestnut dumplings served with fresh coconut syrup and the Lemongrass crème brulee. Overall, I loved the food and the huge variety of Thai delicacies. I spent good time trying out authentic Thai dishes and the ambience made me enjoy the food even more. I would definitely come back at Oh:Cha for more! Thank you, o:h cha and Prekshaa, for inviting us to an unforgettable dining experience.
O:h cha – kitchen & bar, Unit No. 1, The New Mahalaxmi Silk Mills Premises, Mathuradas Mills Compound, N. M. Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013, India.
Telephone: +91 (22) 66 33 44 55
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