Simon Stanley discovers what happens when authentic Thai flavours blend with contemporary style and elegance. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Since opening at the start of 2016, Anh Tuk has quickly gained a solid reputation for its stunning interior and delicious Thai fare. “We wanted to create a modern, upscale Thai concept while reflecting the personality of Thai people by staying friendly and down-to-earth,” says the restaurant’s marketing manager Nguyen Phuong Lien, who adds that the cool, monotone colour-scheme was conceived with the food in mind. “Thai cuisine is very colourful, so the designers used a lot of black and white to help it really pop.”
We take a table in the spacious dining area at the rear of the restaurant. With the clever use of mirrors and arched ceilings, its size seems almost infinite. A lumb crabmeat dip with crispy sticky rice (VND65,000) arrives alongside our drinks. It’s a great way to start a meal, or to be simply enjoyed mid-afternoon with one of Anh Tuk’s many wine offerings, all of which have been chosen specifically to complement the aromatic flavours.
As Lien promised, Anh Tuk’s staff are indeed friendly and down-to-earth. Professional, attentive, not overbearing; it’s just as you’d expect from the same team that gave us Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro. So how is this Thai restaurant different from the last? “We’ve kept the traditional tastes,” replies, Lien, “and you’ll find all of the popular dishes of Thailand here. But we’ve also made some new adjustments. The presentation, for example, is very modern, and some ingredients in the dishes, as you will see, are new.”
The tom yum soup with tiger prawns and mushrooms (VND235,000) is one of Anh Tuk’s traditional items. As with many of their dishes, our server asks how spicy we would like it. “Medium” turns out to be a good choice. The heat is just right, subtly coming and going with each mouthful rather than building and building. The flavours are dynamic and fragrant, hinting at the many ingredients that go into such a dish. Ignoring the crisp white linen and polished tableware for a moment, this is a really authentic tom yum soup!
An Australian rib-eye served with sticky rice (VND235,000) comes next and is an example of Anh Tuk’s innovation on tradition, comprising a beautifully chargrilled piece of beef coated with a zingy tamarind sauce. The combination of smokiness, sweetness and spice is both familiar and exotic, with the accompanying corn cobs and asparagus adding a refreshing counterpoint to the meat.
The culinary twists don’t end before the desserts. The black rice pudding creme brulee (VND75,000) takes inspiration from all over the world and is as pleasing to crack as it is to eat. The knockout, however, comes from the lemongrass panna cotta (also VND75,000). The portion is large and decadent, but you really won’t want to share it.