The Sheraton Hua Hin’s signature restaurant might have a touch of Indochina about its décor, but it’s a Japanese shellfish that takes the biscuit. Words by Mark Bibby Jackson.
There are times in good meals you realize there is no point in going any further. The dish presented in front of you is just too perfect, it can’t get any better than this. Such was my feeling when I tasted the grilled Hokkaido scallops at the Sheraton Hua Hin’s InAzia restaurant.
Now I have to point out that I am not a massive fan of fusion cuisine. Generally I feel it protests too much and fails to deliver. Nor am I a follower of awards bestowed upon restaurants by Asian publications, which tend to reflect the quantity of advertising spend rather than the quality of the cuisine, ambience or service – one reason why AsiaLIFE has never run any such awards. So it was with some reticence that I entered the Sheraton Hua Hin’s award winning Asian fusion restaurant.
The publicity literature that promised “a melting pot of the Orient” did nothing to lessen my unease.
The meal started pleasantly enough with an appetiser consisting of rice crackers and pickles served in peanut, chicken and coconut milk sauce. The texture combo worked to perfection and I found the crackers distinctly moreish, so much so that I was still munching away on them even once the first dish – a spicy tuna sushi roll – had come and gone. This perhaps was a reflection as much on the sushi as the appetiser, which though having quite a tang, somehow seemed to be missing something. Or so I reflected while dipping a bit more of the cracker into the pickle.
This was followed by goong makham, fresh water prawns in a tamarind sauce. Beautifully presented, the dish had a subtle sweet and spicy sauce that complimented rather than overwhelmed the prawns. All this just paved the way for the scallops.
Large, juicy and slightly under-cooked to perfection, the scallops were chewy without being either dry or tough. Coated in a tangy Japanese barbecue sauce, the flavour just lingered in my mouth. My only regret was there were only four of them, and I had to share two with my dinner partner.
Bathos almost inevitably ensued. Our final dish was a chicken tikka dish, which for my traditional British eyes was suffering from colour-blindness. Coated in a green spinach, mint and yoghurt marinade, with a medium spice, it was really the only disappointment of the night, although tasty enough when dipped in the coriander sauce that accompanied it.
For desert we forwent the Oriental melting pot, and opted for an Italian denouement. Homemade chocolate pudding with an excellent tiramisu and panna cotta served with vanilla ice cream.
With excellent service and a very pleasant though slightly over-lit Indochina décor, InAzia makes for an excellent dining option while holidaying in Hua Hin. Only next time I’ll make sure I order a double portion of the scallops and save it to last.