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DuangDy review: Bold Thai flavours beautifully delivered from Bangkok to Downtown Dubai

Tom Evans

Thai cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, with distinctive flavours that draw on the Asian country’s rich cultural heritage. With many dishes now truly global in their appeal, it’s a cuisine that can be both accessible and daring.

DuangDy, the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Dylan Jones and Duangporn Songvisava, is the epitome of just that.

Where to sit, what to expect

DuangDy can be found at One & One Za’abeel, one of Dubai’s most impressive and imposing new hotels with two towers linked by an enormous cantilever known as The Link.

Navigating this labyrinth of food and beverage venues makes me feel like I’m featuring in an episode of Star Trek, with stunning panoramic views of the Dubai skyline following your every move.

But once I find my way to DuangDy, I’m immediately struck by the sense of old meeting new in the spin-off restaurant to Bangkok’s Michelin-starred Bo.lan.

It’s an ultra-modern setting with Downtown Dubai’s imposing structures dominating the scene and a musical backdrop that seems to pay homage to soundtracks Quentin Tarantino would be proud of.

Yet, the decor is authentically Thai, the food and drink menus are equally so, and the welcome my dining partner and I receive from waiting staff is as warm as we could expect in the heart of Bangkok.

The menu

Everything about DuangDy pays homage to the restaurant’s core philosophy; one that respects authentic Thai recipes in a sustainable and forward-thinking way that could inspire future chefs.

Once we’re shown to our table, my dining partner and I are presented with a beef broth to whet the palate. We’re told it’s a traditional way to start an evening meal and we’re both thoroughly impressed by the subtlety of the flavour that leaves us both wanting more.

We then opt for a tasting selection of starters, with the beef and onion served with sriracha sauce the highlight of this course. The tenderness of the steak strips blend brilliantly with the tangy spice of the chilli-based condiment.

As for mains, we’re treated to a red curry of organic chicken and green banana served with rice. It’s an eclectic mix of taste that reflects the dynamism of Thai cuisine, as the spice of the chicken blends with the more mellow banana to give it an earthy, homely feel.

The red curry is a highlight of our meal. Photo: DuangDy Dubai
The red curry is a highlight of our meal. Photo: DuangDy Dubai

It’s served alongside a dish of stir-fried pumpkin with chicken, organic egg and Thai basil, which adds yet more variety to a table already packed with riches.

With both of us already full to the brim, it’s difficult to find room for dessert, but we choose to dive in regardless as the restaurant’s charming staff have surpassed all expectations so far.

We go for the pandan noodle served with agar agar, coconut and date syrup, which beautifully cleanses the palate of the vast assortment of flavours that preceded it, while also being a light, delicious close to an otherwise wonderful meal.

A chat with the chefs
Dylan Jones and Duangporn Songvisava
Dylan Jones and Duangporn Songvisava. Photo: DuangDy

DuangDy gets its culinary identity from its now-famous husband and wife duo. Chef Jones is from Australia and describes a “fateful meeting” with his wife Duangporn, or Bo, Songvisava in a Thai restaurant.

The couple say their shared passion for gastronomy inspired them in 2008 to open a restaurant in Bangkok, Bo.lan, which blends their two nicknames.

This is something reflected in the name of their Dubai venture, as DuangDy is a portmanteau of Duangporn and Dylan.

As for the food philosophy, chef Songvisava explains that “chilli is the core of Thai cuisine”, as it adds a “distinctive charm to the flavours” while having numerous health benefits.

“Its versatility is a key factor, as it is used in various ways to elevate the taste of Thai dishes,” she explains.

“When thinking of Thai cuisine, spice and heat immediately come to mind, and much of this comes from the chilli’s unique contribution. Beyond its ability to impart a unique fragrance to dishes, chilli plays a vital role in shaping the character of Thai food, serving as more than just a heat source. It becomes an essential component contributing to both the taste and the health aspects of the dishes.”

A dish that best represents Thai culinary heritage, according to chefs Jones and Songvisava, is the Nahm Prik, also known as relishes or pounded chilli paste, which are served with fresh vegetables.

At DuangDy, though, the aim is to blend tradition with modernity. “We maintain the tradition of using the mortar and pestle in preparations for most dishes, which is in our culinary roots,” Chef Songvisava says.

“However, we infuse a modern touch through innovative design elements when presenting the dish. This harmonious combination allows us to preserve the essence of tradition while adapting to the modern culinary landscape.”

Chefs Jones and Songvisava’s top pick for a vegetarian would be the golea of aubergine, the green curry of salted beef for meat-lovers, while seafood aficionados are recommended the oyster a la DuangDy. As for those with a sweet tooth, the chefs tip the glass dumpling simmered in thick coconut cream with assorted yam and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for dessert.

Courtesy: thenationalnews