For being the most distinctive among all other Thai restaurants, people would immediately refer Santhai as the go-to place in Jakarta. Here’s how they revolutionize the Thai cuisine in the Big Durian.
There’s a local quote saying, “Santai seperti di pantai”. It’s not rhyming in English, but still it can be literally translated as “relaxing on a beach”. For that purpose, Santhai’s design embodies the holiday mood. The theme is tropical, and both outlets apply the always-fashionable neon lamps. Even the staffs are clad in beach shirts. Certain food and drinks are served on floaties and bird cages.
True to its name, Santhai was created in a way that’s playful, or “Instagrammable” – says the millennials. It’s unlike any other Thai restaurants that usually sport formal look. Surely you will immediately notice that most Thai restaurants have all that royal themes with statues, paintings, and the usual classical interior. Santhai is the complete opposite.
However, the most important part of all from a restaurant is always the food and Santhai is not short of surprises there. It boasts nearly 200 types of dishes, with additional a few dozen coming in after the second opening of their outlet quite recently in Pantai Indah Kapuk.
Credits should be given to the visionary owners and the native Thai chefs who have been collaborating closely to present this outlook. Aside from the eclectic designs, the owners also encourage the chefs to create interesting new dishes inspired from other cultures. Authenticity certainly has its values, but Santhai bravely mixes the two worlds to create both appetizing and intriguing lineup of the menu.
Santhai do embrace the classic choices such as the pineapple fried rice or the pad thai. They also offer the boat noodles, albeit the size may be different than the traditional. Expect to see other authentic options such as the Thai mango salad, massaman curry, the red and green curries with prata, and even the tom yum. To end the whole experience, the sticky rice with mango awaits you. The durian desserts are also ripe for the taking.
However, if you are feeling playful, then you should try something different. The popularity of salted egg dishes these past two years encourages the chefs of Santhai to develop their own Thai take which can be seen from salted egg spring beans, crispy salted egg yolk with chicken, also with prawns. The mantou buns proved to be a perfect choice as the starter, since it can be served with Peking duck or soft-shell crabs with Thai basil.
As for our personal experience, we were very delightful when trying the always good fried rice, but this time served in a coconut shell and presented on a floatie. This eclectic presentation was immediately followed by the highly delectable salmon’s head curry. For the desserts, the durian spring rolls awaited us curiously in one corner.
The highlight of the day goes for the salmon’s head curry. It’s not easy to cook a wonderful salmon dish, since I personally think that salmon is only best when served as gravlax or sashimi. Through this dish, Santhai made it clear that they can make salmon as the star of the show. It tasted very fresh, with enough serving for a few people, and the rich red curry’s flavor was out of this world. Simply majestic!
There you have it, a complete package of a playful Thai restaurant with a rich lineup of menu and perfect for the whole family. We have a feeling that we’re going to see great things coming ahead from Santhai in the future.
Kota Kasablanka, Lantai Lower Ground
Jl. Casablanca Raya, Jakarta
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