There are many reasons why the Dining Out team enjoys dining at the Hilton. Some of these include handing the car keys to the valet and let him struggle with the corkscrew ramps in the parking station, others include the impeccable service we have always received in the Flare restaurant from Maitre d’ Sunny and his crew, excellent food from the kitchens of Executive Chef Supoj, and finally the effusive welcome from their Marketing Communications Manager K. Sunday. It all certainly puts the Dining Out team in a good mood before we even begin to read the menu.
You are greeted at the entrance and then escorted into the restaurant, going around the glass-walled, temperature controlled wine cellar and then to your table. The lighting is subdued, and the predominant color is black, but there is illumination for your table, but still ensuring privacy. The chairs are comfortable and at the correct height relative to the table. There are even natty little handbag hooks for Madame. Get yourself ready, as you know this will be a special evening.
Flare has a good wine list, and Sunny has an excellent understanding of his cellar and recommended the Broken Hills Classic Dry White which is very pleasant and goes well with the Thai food.
The menu is large, and has good photographs to make it easy for those not conversant with Thai cuisine. The presentation is definitely special, and with the attentive nature of the staff everyone was impressed before we even began. We started with the tod mun goong and pla krai (shrimp cakes and curried fish cakes) served with three sauces – sweet chilli, plum and cucumber pickle. These were followed by assorted spring rolls (prawn, vegetarian, tuna and seaweed), complete with a tiny pandanus palm decoration.
The next dish brought to the table was a yum pla foo, which Maitre d’ Sunny explained was usually made with catfish (yum pla duk foo), but this one had been made with sea bass. The fluffy fish is fried with green mango and tossed in a spicy lime dressing.
A salad was next on the agenda, a yum tua plu, which is a wing beans salad with white shrimps, roasted coconut, peanuts and Asian herbs, which was followed by my dish of the evening, a massaman nua. This Southern Thai recipe features cubed beef, slowly stewed for some hours with potato and peanuts in a red curry sauce. The beef for this was imported Australian and literally fell apart with pressure from the spoon. The taste was perfect.
We were also regaled with a plate of fried crab served with finger bowls, one of the specialties of the house, which Madame told me was quite superb, happily crunching her way through it all, as only Thais can do. For me, crab represents too much work for too little return, so I was happy to return to the massaman.
The evening did not finish there, as desserts were to come, headed by a crème brulee, which Chef Supoj described with a smile as “Thai style”, being a pandan and taro custard topped with a layer of hard caramel and served with chilled Thai melon.
Of course there were also seasonal Thai fruits, plus other choices for the diners. We finished the Broken Hills and washed everything down with coffee. Undoubtedly one of the very top fine dining venues in Pattaya, and you will pay for that excellence, as one does with all things ‘when only the best will do’.
As I indicated in the beginning of this article, it was a very special dinner. The cuisine, if not “Royal Thai” is its closest relative. It is very rare to experience Thai food of this quality and this standard of presentation. It is the venue to which you take your overseas important clients (or the boss) and know that your guests will be impressed. We enjoyed the evening thoroughly and we can highly recommend the Hilton’s Flare Thai promotion.
Flare Restaurant, 15th floor Hilton Pattaya, above the Central Festival Center, Beach Road. Open seven days for dinner 6.30 p.m. until 11.30 p.m. Valet parking from the Welcome Lobby ground floor. Booking recommended 038 825 3000.