Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flavors Indian Restaurant In Bangkok, Thailand


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In Bangkok, this city of numerous Indian restaurants, there is another to consider as Flavors, an Indian eatery in the Pathumwan Princess Hotel at MBK, just opened its doors several weeks ago. Opened by first-time restaurauter Rakesh Manglani, an Indian businessman from Dubai, Flavors is attempting to carve out its own identity in a market crowded with many varieties of both Indian food and style.

Flavors appears to be taking a middle road between the most traditional Indian restaurants in the city and the most adventurous. With a lengthy menu that is almost half vegetarian and a d├ęcor that is original and contemporary this restaurant doesn’t seem to be taking cues from any place else but rather is charting its own course through the Bangkok culinary world.

Opening a restaurant at any time and anywhere is a risk in the best of times – the failure rate of new restaurants is about 90% – but it is particularly difficult in bad economic times as we are now in the midst of. However, as a wise man once told me years ago, explaining why the food business was a good one to be in, “people have to eat.” That is true and since many people like to do more than just eat – they like to eat well – Flavors’ chances are probably as good as any other new place opening now.

Those chances are made better because of a couple of things that it has going for it: good food and a clear vision. One of the biggest reasons most restaurants fail is that they either have unremarkable food or an unclear idea of what their identity is. Flavors seems to have both of these well in hand as I found out on a recent visit. The food is quite well done and the owner’s vision for the restaurant seems to be firmly in place, which is unusual for a first-time owner.

As mentioned, the menu is large, with over 100 items and features a sizable section of vegetarian food which will appeal to people of any persuasion. Try the dal of the house, Dal Flavors, and you’ll see what I mean. I almost couldn’t stop eating this buttery-flavored, smoothly textured Indian standby. Cooked for about 12 hours it was one of the best examples of dal I’ve ever had. And another standard Indian dish, the fish tikka was also impressive. There are several dishes you can order to test the skill of an Indian chef and this is one of them. Cooking chunks of fish in an oven this way is not easy and there’s a fine line between having moist, tender fish tikka and dry, tough fish tikka. Flavors’ chef obviously knows where the line is because his dish was just about perfect.

Other dishes, such as the chicken madras from southern India and shahjahani jhinga (shrimp cooked in the oven with a cashew-nut based gravy), were also well done with the shrimp tender and moist like the tikka and the chicken also tender in its spicy, flavorful madras sauce. Other dishes on the menu run the gamut from northern Indian favorites using mutton, chicken and shrimp to the many vegetarian dishes and a variety of soups and Indian salads.

In an atmosphere that included both booths and chairs decorated in bright gold, orange and purple upholstery and antiqued wood everywhere, Flavors presents an upscale, contemporary look that is spread over several different sections and offers areas that are somewhat private as well as others that face onto the glass wall that runs the length of the restaurant overlooking the busy thoroughfare outside.

Judging from this initial look at Flavors it seems as if it has a good chance to be a survivor in the intensely competitive Bangkok restaurant scene. And anywhere else in the country Mr. Rakesh may want to locate another Flavors location since it also seems that his ambitions may run in that direction. Wherever he chooses to operate he’ll do well if he remains true to the vision he’s started here and maintains the identity that Flavors now has.

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