Mekong: Anantara’s Signature Restaurant in Salalah

Mekong, meaning ‘the mother of rivers’, provides a flowing array of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara. This signature restaurant brings distinctive Asian fare, authentic age-old recipes and regional specialties to Salalah for the first time.

The décor and ambiance of Mekong are what can be described as Buddha Bar meets Hakkasan. Dark, masculine-brown interiors with delightful splashes of orange upholstery and tableware, set to the backdrop of warm lights and candles. The twinkle of unhung lanterns, a wall of porcelain pottery, delicate elephant figurines and baby bamboo plants, certainly sets the scene for an evening of world-class cuisine and hospitality.

Oman Magazine go behind-the-scenes to meet with Chef De Cuisine Taran, who hails from Vietnam, and whom believes the secret all lies in the key ingredients.

Such luxuries as oyster mushrooms, pak choi and peking duck are not readily available in the Gulf, so how does Mekong achieve a true Asian experience? “Well, that’s simple. We ensure daily imports of the best quality items required to bring the true taste of Asia to your plate. We source as much as possible locally and even have our own herb garden. You should try our basil!” – Chef De Cuisine, Taran.

Upon being taken to our table, we were keen to see what surprises lay in store, and as ever, in true Thai fashion, we were about to watch the storytelling unfold through the senses, starting with the one-bite parcels. This custom tradition is known as Miang Kham. which translates to “one bite wrap”, from miang (food wrapped in leaves) and kham (a bite). Each leaf must be loaded and enjoyed in one bite; allowing the crunch, fragrance and textures to uniquely unfold.

On this particular evening, we opted solely for main courses (perhaps owing to Ramadan’s recent over-indulgences) and so, out came the readily sliced ‘Beijing Kao Ya’ – Beijing Style Half Roasted Duck, ever-glistening and tender at first sight. The steamed pancakes and ménage-a-trois followed suit; spring onion, cucumber and plum sauce; ready for wrapping and enjoying with merriment. Upon first bite? Remarkably lean, yet packed with all the lovely rich flavours of well-prepared duck.

‘Gaeng Phed Gai’, this Thai red curry with chicken can only be described as blissfully aromatic. This is not your condensed coconut classic with overpowering sweetness, fear-not, this version allows every flavour to take centre stage; beautifully balanced and incredibly moreish.

Let’s talk about the notorious world-famous, ‘Phad Thai Goong’ Thai Style Stir Fried Noodle. For those unfamiliar with the dish, do not be deterred by the unusual fragrance. Fish sauce and small dried shrimps are the catalyst to sensational flavour. A mountain of slippery noodles, peanuts, juicy shrimps and Asian veggies, all make for a magnificent, palette-pleasing, gratifying meal. Optional vinegar, sugar or chilli flakes can be added, or a splash of lime, to enhance the taste.

Dessert welcomed the delicate flavours of fresh coconut milk, toasted sesame seeds and the soft undertones of white rice with the ‘Khao Niew Mamuang’. This sticky, feel good, can’t-put-the-spoon-down pudding is everything that makes Asian food so good. Simple things, created with excellence.

Mekong certainly presents the best of Asia’s diverse culinary heritage. Whether dining for business or pleasure, guests are able to enjoy both comfortable elegance in the dining room, or al fresco dining on the terrace; inspired by the lagoon’s evening romance.

If you would like to experience Mekong, or Al Baleed Resort by Anantara, please visit: http://salalah.anantara.com/mekong