With the cold weather settling in, I know you ladies are dreaming of a Thailand getaway and lazing out in the sun with a cocktail in your hand. Well, I can’t quite get you to Thailand, but let me propose the next best thing – a yummy meal at Aqua Group’s own Thai getaway, Ayuthaiya!
Plopped right between the “border” of Central and Soho, Ayuthaiya sits on Hollywood Road in a ridiculously convenient location. The restaurant is located right by the roadside, so if you’re looking for some quiet conversation, it’s probably best to grab a table at the back or upstairs, away from the traffic. Otherwise, if you’re up for a night of people watching (especially on Friday and Saturday nights), be sure to snag the little bar stools up front, which will provide you with a tip-top spot to watch the passersby!
We started with a few non-alcoholic drinks (it was lunchtime, after all!), so we stayed healthy and fresh, with Rach sipping on a fresh coconut to get herself in the holiday mood, while I indulged in the cooling Ginger Up Juice – a blend of watermelon juice and spicy hot ginger!
Starting off our meal, we were served with one of the newer items on Ayuthaiya’s menu: a beautiful yam longon salad. Tossed with button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, this was dressed with a zesty peppery dressing that I just couldn’t get enough of! In case you haven’t had a longon before, it’s a tropical fruit (in Chinese, it literally means “the dragon’s eye”), which resembles a lychee but is smaller and has firmer flesh. It’s naturally sweet and aromatic, so paired with the addictive dressing and crumbled peanuts, made me very happy indeed!
Next the Por Pia Poo Nim and Chor Muang (translation: soft shell crab rice paper roll and salmon dumpling) arrived. When eating soft shell crab, it always seems kind of wrong to be biting straight through a crab’s shell… regardless, this was fresh and had that delicious taste of summer all wrapped up in roll form. Just be careful in keeping those Thai herbs, mango and avocado slices altogether – it definitely can get a bit messy!
The salmon dumpling was certainly a surprise; it could have fooled me as a Thai-inspired xiao long bao! It was served in a bamboo steamer, much like the ever-popular Shanghainese dumpling – but once we bit into it, there was no fooling us! This Thai dumpling was coconuty-rich with red curry sauce, finished with a perfect bite of salmon hidden right in the middle. If I could, I would just order 12 of these for a shameless dinner!
For our main course, we split the Pla Gao Gud Prik Sam Ros – an entire fish deep-fried and served with a tasty sweet and salty chilli sauce. For those of you who hate any sort of bones in your fish, don’t worry; the fish has been filleted and any remaining bones came off quite easily… and our server was also extremely kind and dished up non-bony and extremely flavourful pieces of fish straight onto our plates! The sauce was super appetising, with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy that was just enough for me to feel the heat.
Finally, the desserts! My favourite go-to Thai sweet is the Khao Niew Mamuang – sweet sticky rice with thick coconut milk and fresh mango. At Ayuthaiya, this was served with two types of sticky rice (white and dark purple), with the dark purple being chewier and naturally sweeter. It’s a simple yet timeless Thai dessert, and perfect if you still have room for a heavier dessert!
Even though the sticky rice filled me up, we still attempted a second dessert (we do it for you girls…!), the Bua Loi Kaiee. It’s a clean and basic dish of glutinous rice dumplings in coconut cream; with dumplings of all different colours, it was almost like having bubble tea in a warm and smooth coconut cream!
So if you’re ever looking for a taste of Thai-paradise that isn’t just a generic Thai food establishment, pop by Ayuthaiya – it’s just off the Soho escalator, so you won’t be able to miss it! Lunch sets start from a reasonable $88 – and for Central, those prices are a total steal! Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a spot for a private party, Ayuthaiya’s upstairs space is also perfect for an intimate gathering right in the heart of Central. For a totally delicious taste of Thailand that’s so much more than pad thai and green curry, Ayuthaiya will not disappoint!
Ayuthaiya Upper G/F & 1/F, 35-37 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
3105 5055 www.aqua.com.hk