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Dinner@Neung Roi
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DWC Dinner at Neung Roi (#8/259)

Neung Roi was the perfect venue for the 14th anniversary celebrations of the Delhi Wine Club where members congregated to enjoy a perfect, authentic multi-course Thai meal curated by Chef Yenjai Suthiwaja, that was well matched with 5 wines and where members reminisced about the wine journey of the Club during the past 14 years, writes Subhash Arora who believes Neung Roi is still Neung roi after all these years of existence

Photos By:: Adil Arora

The word Neung (one) roi (hundred) means 100 in Thai language. A very apt name chosen by Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel when opened as their signature Thai Restaurant four years ago! It was a 100-pointer when we had our first DWC dinner there over 2 years ago. Thanks to the management’s complete support to Chef Yenjai Suthiwaja who came from Thailand on two conditions- that she would not indigenise  her Menu and that the ingredients must be imported to maintain the typicity and integrity of her dishes.

Endless snacks served with Danzante Prosecco at the Savannah Bar started the exclusive evening on a good note with the older members reminiscing about old memories with the newer members. (Danzante was originally a brand owned by Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi- the first ever joint venture between two mega wine companies from Tuscany and California.  Mondavi’s share was bought over by Marchesi di Frescobaldi in 2004). With the slightly off-dry flavours, the fizz went very well with the snacks.

Thod Man Pla-the Steamed Sago dumpling filled with chicken; Goong Pan Oi, Prawn & Sugar cane Skewers, Satay Gai- Grilled chicken skewers with peanut sauce & cucumber relish, Tohu Song Khurg-Tofu & betel nut leaf in pandanus cup with tamarind palm sugar sauce & roasted coconut, Porpia Sod ‘Phuket’ style fresh vegetable spring roll, Tod Man Khao Pod- Corn fritter with sweet chilli sauce, kept on rolling in. Prawn and spring rolls were my favourite. We could be eating those snacks for hours had the Danzante not been finished; when we decided to walk across the lobby and move to Neung Roi.

 Welcoming the guests at the restaurant after the traditional aperitif hour at the Bar and congratulating them on the 14th Anniversary together, Subhash Arora was frank enough to admit that the first-ever wine dinner organised by him on July 19, 2002 at the Spirits Restaurant in Connaught Place was a near disaster and had he not taken a few drastic steps like asking some  members to resign from the club, it might have been the end of the Club on that night, with some demanding whisky while others demanding the bottles to be kept on the table so they could serve themselves as and when they wanted.

He also informed the members that he had selected three Rieslings for the Dinner as they were usually a classic match with spicy Thai food, apart from Gewürztraminer- originally the grape of Alsace, Germany and parts of Italy.  Two of the wines, Columbia Valley Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. L from Dr. Loosen (who has incidentally collaborated with Ste. Michelle in their Eroica Riesling  project in the US) were both off-dry and the opinions were divided on whether the members liked the sugar content. Riesling from Villa Maria was dry but fruity and with the typical petrol-ly aromas.

To me, an important part of the meal at Neung Roi is always the Salad Platter. Yam Som-O- Pomelo salad with crispy onion, garlic & palm sugar tamarind dressing, is decidedly the best Pomelo salad I have eaten anywhere. The crunchy texture with freshness and citrus flavour can be inviting even without wine. Same with Som Tum-Raw papaya salad with peanut, chilli & light soya sauce; both are the house specialties. Yam WoonSen Moo / Tohu- Glass noodle salad with tomato, celery, spring onion, shallot & chilli dressing with minced Pork (vegetarians could opt for Tofu or even order any other equivalent salad) was not in the race to be the number one in the trio- but the common thread of citrus running through the three salads, made it a delightful combination. Château Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley Series was a bit too sweet for the salad unless one put additional chilli sauce, a perennial problem with matching off-dry wines with Thai food with varying degree of spice-heat.

 Tom Yum Goong / Pak –the Spicy & Sour Prawn Soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime & galangal was so delicious that I could not resist requesting for the vegetarian equivalent- and really enjoyed it paired with Dr. L, another off-dry, but crisp and fruity Riesling that went well because of the hot chopped red peppers in the soup.

A few of the members decided to say a few words in honour of our completing 14 years. Dr. Ms. Balesh Jindal, a founder member said, ‘when an occasional glass of wine, gin or vodka for us women and whiskey for men were the only options for dining out, Delhi Wine Club, the brainchild  of Subhash Arora, entered the scene quietly and humbly 14 years ago. It seemed so irrelevant and uninspiring then. Today, I realise how greatly DWC has changed our lives and perspective while traveling.’ 

‘We have attended at least a hundred wine tastings and even more pairings and endless multi-course dinners (which were personally curated by Subhash) presented by the finest chefs in the most coveted restaurants. We felt privileged and pampered each time. We have refined our palates and with our more than moderate knowledge of wines, we are more confident when abroad, especially while dining in fine restaurants.’ 

Reminiscing about his time during the previous decade or so, Ranganathan Parthiban, an avid club supporter said, 'past years have been successful in many ways with a kaleidoscope of happy memories, supportive friendships and enduring relationships. We made history by making our 10th Anniversary coupled with our 200th event a grand success with many firsts in our Club History- Corporate Sponsorship, Sit Down 7- course dinner for about 250 persons with 9 wines! Of course there have been a few paths more difficult to travel due to regulations in organising imported wines. DWC is considered a great association for the Hospitality Industry today.  Many restaurants are inaugurated at our Events; many Wineries look upon us to launch their new products.​ Needless to say this could be possible only due to the completely dedicated, sincere and passionate efforts by Cav. Subhash Arora.’

Tristan De Lomenie, GM of Pullman-Novotel duo in the Aerocity was alone since his winemaker wife is in Bordeaux at the moment. He became a member thanks to Isabel who was told that since wines are not available easily in India, life could be very dull. She located the Club on the Net and decided to request the membership which was granted instantly. ‘It took one meeting before we found ourselves accepted by the members many of whom became very good personal friends. And we found the wines served in the club event were diversified and well matched with food. DWC really changed our lives in Delhi,’ he said.

It was very thoughtful of Sumit Bansal, the F & B Director who is always very supportive of our events and leads his team from the front, to organise a special chocolate cake for the special occasion. The founder members were invited to cut the cake, followed by all those present.

Main Course was yet another enjoyable phase of the event. A combo of Gaeng Prik Moo-Isan style pork curry with raw papaya, kaffir lime & spices, Gai Phad Ton Hom- Stir fried chicken with spring onion & oyster sauce, Pla Neung Manao-Steamed Sea Bass Fish with lime chilli sauce and plenty of flavour; and  Phad Pak Kiew- Stir fried kale with morning glory, pokchoy, soya bean sauce, garlic & pepper, Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai / Pak- Mixed vegetables in Thai Green curry with choice of Chicken or Vegetables for vegetarians were plentiful, supplemented by Mee Spum, Stir fried Noodle with black soy, bokchoy & egg and Khao Suay- Jasmine Rice. We had served both the Villa Maria Riesling and Pinot Noir with the main course so people could decide what went better for them. While Riesling was crisp and fresh, the Pinot Noir from Villa Maria did not seem to be in a good mood today. It needed plenty of cajoling to open up and seemed to be prematurely past its prime.

Khao Niew Mamuang / I Tim Madeux Mango with Stick rice & Fig Ice Cream was a delicious dessert as the finale of the evening. The Grand Finale was when the guests were each handed a box of chocolates by the restaurant manager on their way out- as a token of thanks, truly Thai style.

 Neung Roi is following the trail of Bukhara at ITC Maurya where there have been no major changes during the last many decades in the Menu. But the food quality and service have always been consistent and thus the restaurant is still very attractive to gourmets. The Restaurant has excellent in-house chefs who have worked with Chef Yenjai Suthiwaja for long and imbibed her style and can offer practically the same quality and style to their customers.

One thing is for sure, denizens of Delhi with impeccable taste for Thai food and used to fine dining will not be disappointed by Neung Roi which gets 'Neung roi' (100) for food and quality of service-once again, from Delhi Wine Club.

Subhash Arora

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Tristan Lomenie

Rupa Bhasin (Founder Member)

Arun Varma

R Parthiban

Subhash Arora (Founder Member DWC)

Dr. Balesh Jindal (Founder Member DWC)

Dr. R. K. Jindal (Founder Member DWC)

 

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