Firstly, lets get this out of the way, I had no idea what Loy Krathong was until I got invited to a blogger’s evening to celebrate it. Turns out, or according to Wikipedia at least, it’s an annual celebration which takes place in some Asian countries on the full moon of the 12th Thai month (which is roughly around November, by Western calendars). It sounds pretty cool to be fair; traditional krathong (crowns/boats/decoration) are launched along and river and people make a wish.
Anyway, my cultural ignorance aside, I headed off to Moseley for an evening of Thai food at Sabai’s Sabai’s original restaurant. They opened another one about a year ago in Harborne entertainingly, because if there’s two suburbs in Birmingham with a sort of middle class rivalry, Harborne and Moseley are it for sure. Cleverly though, the interior of the two matches the characteristics of the location; the Moseley venue is cosy, a little bohemian and dimly lit for real intimacy, whereas the Harborne one feels much more modern and chic. My personal preference is for the Moseley one, because I’m not really a smart and modern sort of person and the low lighting means you can easily hide something when accidentally spill sauce on the table. Little things people, little things.
This time round I met up with a few other bloggers to celebrate the aforementioned Loy Krathong by trying out some dishes, most of which are featured on Sabai Sabai’s Christmas Menu. This is a three course menu where diners can choose one starter and main and pudding is a trio of desserts. Of course we tried a bit of everything in order to be able to write about it – the things I do for this blog, I tell you.
First up was a selection of starters; scallops, chicken satay ribs, crab cakes and ribs. I’m a bit of a sucker for scallops and these were delightful, with a warm butter-like texture that my knife slipped through with ease. The garlic and pepper sauce and colourful sprinkling of vegetables was a welcomed accompaniment – in fact they could’ve just brought me a bowl of this dish and I’d have been happy. The chicken satay had a nice balance of flavour, particularly with the peanut sauce which have a nice creamy savoury angle to it, without being cloyingly sweet. The rib was nice enough but not particularly enthralling, particularly compared to the rest of the dishes.
For main course the table was positively filled with an assortment of dishes. The first one to land was roast duck, and who amongst the meat eaters of us can say no to roast duck? Not I, that’s for sure. With crispy skin and sweet meat, the tangy but sweet tamarind sauce elevated to a dish worth of a celebration and the bed of pak choi and cranberries alluded to just a little hint of Christmas cheer.
The sea bass was served in a similar garlic and pepper sauce as the scallops, which almost made me think someone had heard my silent calls for more of the starter. Sea bass is one of those items I find myself choosing more and more – the versatility of the fish means it’s nearly always a pleasant dish and this certainly was, and more. Between the sauce, which had a nice punchiness to it, and another bright array of vegetables this didn’t feel like a stodgy indulgent Christmas dinner, but a fresh, light and yet still a flavoursome one. Of all the dishes, it was the one I kept coming back to.
Clearly I was a bit over excited by the sea bass and some of my other photos suffered. The pan fried monkfish served with bamboo shoots and fine beans, wrapped in chargrilled aubergine was another fresh, light dish and the heat from the Thai green curry sauce gave it a good kick. Personally I found the sirloin steak cooked a little more than I would’ve liked, but the Panang sauce rescued it. I’d imagine if you were ordering this for yourself you’d get an option to request how it ought to be cooked.
I was sat next to a fellow blogger Emily, who is pescatarian and with the array of superb fish dishes wouldn’t have been short of things to eat, but the staff created an array of vegetarian friendly dishes, namely a tofu which looked good and a yellow curry, also with tofu, which I tried too.
For pudding there was a trio of desserts; a square of brownie, scoop of ice cream and panna cotta. Given the amount of food and the spice of some of the other dishes this was, the words of goldilocks, just right. The square of brownie was chocolatey but not sickly and the refreshing cool ice cream maneuvered into the few remaining gaps left after a large meal. That’s one of the things I like about Thai food, you know you’ve eaten a lot but the fresh flavours and vegetables mean that you rarely feel stuffed.
Lovely company, delicious food and learning about a new celebration – it was a good night overall. If this is whetted your appetite then it’s worth having a look at their website for more info on their Christmas menu. Or you know, just menu, because who needs Christmas as an excuse to go for dinner?
Disclosure: I was invited down by Sabai Sabai and Delicious PR for a complimentary meal with fellow bloggers in return for an honest post. More importantly, who do we talk to about getting a Loy Krathong celebration down one of the canals next year – it was be epic.