Kota Damansara is one place that I avoid, most times. Never mind that it is now considered a very "happening" place, never mind that there are restaurants and cafes coming up as fast as mushrooms after rain... to me, it's a crazy maze. Add in the one-way streets and the haphazard parking/stopping of vehicles everywhere and the maze get crazier.
Now, if there is one good reason for me to venture into that crazy maze, it's Erawan.
Erawan - the classic Thai and Fusion restaurant.
The name Erawan, in Thai, refers to The Elephant God. It is also known as Airavata or Airawana in Sanskrit and in Bali, it's known as Erawana. According to Aryan legends, the god Erawan is huge, white and has 33 heads. Each head bears 7 tusks. For each tusk there are 7 lotus ponds. Each lotus pond has 7 lotus pads, each pad has 7 lotus blossoms and each blossom has 7 petals. On each petal dances 7 angels. Each angel has 7 ladies-in-waiting. So, altogether, the god Erawan has 33 heads, 231 tusks, 1,617 ponds, 11,319 lotus pads, 79,233 lotus blossoms, 554,631 lotus petals, 3,882,417 angels and 27,176,919 ladies-in-waiting!
However, for artistic reasons, he is usually portrayed with only 3 heads, rather than the 33 heads in the myth.
There are many legends about Erawan. One popular one holds that the Lord Shiva gave him as a gift to the god Indra... and that Erawan was originally a god stationed in the Dao-Wa-Deaung heaven. Wherever Indra went, Erawan would follow in the guise of a white elephant. Not only is Erawan the lord of all elephants and the most powerful, he is said to be as large as a mountain. In the Mahabharata, it is said that "the god Airavata has 4 tusks and 3 trunks. He is great in size and pearly white".
The above is translated from the Erawan Elephant Museum & the faith of its maker, Erawan Museum, Samutprakarn, Thailand.
I read the above from notes provided in Erawan (the restaurant)... isn't it fascinating?
Tucked in an intermediate shoplot, somewhere in that crazy maze of Kota Damansara commercial centre, is Erawan, the restaurant. There are some pretty pots of flowers and foliage guarding the entrance.
When you step into Erawan, you will be struck by the colours and deco of the place and how the owners - Chef Korn and Anan have lovingly arranged and decorated it with lots of items depicting the Thai culture and legends. Every crook and corner is filled with beautiful cups, vases, bowls, figurines... the walls are adorned with vibrant lively paintings and fresh flowers are everywhere! I just love the onslaught of cheerful colors that greet every visitor.
If you think the deco of Erawan is impressive, wait until you see how their dishes are served. I was pretty thrilled by the beautiful plating of each dish. Their salads, curries... in fact, most of the dishes were vibrantly matched with all kinds of patterned crockery in every hue - natural pigments of the fruits, vegetables and meats used in each dish. Put all these vibrant colours on traditionally Thai-designed plates and bowls and there you have it... each dish is like a piece of art and a delight to the senses... from sight, smell and taste!
Let's start with some Appetizers...
Rose Apples with Topping (RM30) - the special thick topping is made from dried shrimps, roasted coconuts, cashewnuts & other Thai spices - really addictive stuff! I could eat a plate of this all by myself.
Pomelo Salad (RM30) - mind you, only pomeloes from Thailand are used! When we suggested local pomeloes as an alternative, Anan informed that Chef Korn would only insist on using Thai ones - such is the QC practised here!
Lemongrass Salad (RM38) - finely-shredded lemongrass rings tossed with succulent boiled squids and shrimps, crunchy peanuts, cashewnuts, sprigs of fresh coriander leaves, topped with crispy fried shallots and their special Thai dressing, of course! You get a piquant explosion of taste and textures on your palate!
- photo courtesy of Masak-Masak
Crabs in Shell (RM38) - Crabmeat, diced shrimps and chicken combined with herbs and spices, stuffed into crabshells and fried to a golden brown - you eat this daintily using a fork. Great for fussy crab-lovers who abhor the laborious task of eating crabs the real way. I'm a True Blue Crab Eater so this "refined" crabby dish is a bit wimpy for me, if you know what I mean, hehe!
4-Angled Bean Salad (RM38) - lightly-blanched still-crunchy 4-angled beans topping a bed of boiled chicken, seafood, hard-boiled eggs, roasted grated coconuts, crispy shallots ~ all tossed with special Thai dressing with a light drizzle of coconut milk. I love how all the different textured ingredients work so well together!
Since we are now in the Chinese New Year festive mood, Erawan serves a lovely refreshing Prosperity Yee Sang with fresh salmon...
Special fresh vegetables included are alfalfa sprouts, purple cabbage shreds, pineapples, young mango strips, raisins - a luxuriant mix of gorgeous colours. A 1-day pre-order notice is strictly required for this and will only be available until 17 February 2011.
Small portion (RM58); Large Portion (RM88)
Roast Duck Curry (RM38) - Boneless slices of roast duck simmered in a light curry with chunks of green apples and pineapples to give you that extra incentive to eat more rice!
Cockles Curry with Betel Leaves (RM38) - An absolute must-order for all cockles lovers! Only fresh cockles of certain sizing are used. Anan will not serve this if they do not get the requisite-sized fresh cockles. This dish was really the highlight of my meal there. Care is taken by the Chef to ensure the cockles are perfectly cooked to the right texture, neither too soft nor too chewy.
Green Curry Fish Paste & Salted Eggyolks (RM32) - bouncy fishballs made from "ikan tenggiri" encasing dewy orangey salted eggyolks cooked in a traditional green curry. Another rice-inducing dish.
Pineapples Curry with Prawns (RM32) - you can choose either prawns or mussels for this dish. Fresh succulent shrimps in a light red curry, made more fragrant by the addition of kaffir lime leaves. The pineapple chunks gave this curry a sweet-sourish lift - we spooned up all the curry, I tell you!
Stir-fried Bittergourd with Shrimps (RM25) - this was really one of the clear favourites among the diners at my table. A simple stir-fried dish, but so lovely to go with rice and all the rest of the dishes.
Paneang Beef Curry (RM38) - thick tender slices of Australian beef in a dry-style curry. The beef were really tender as they had been simmered for 3-6 hours. Thin shreds of tumeric leaves enhanced the sweet flavours of the coconut milk and spices.
Softshell Crab Curry (RM42) - Generally I love softshell crabs. However, I found this particular curry dish to be a bit heavy on the coconut cream and had overshadowed the natural flavours of the crabs. For those who love thick "lemak" kinda curry gravy, then this would be heavenly.
Oh, but surely you must have some RICE to go with all those curries, right?!
Coconut Jelly (RM12) - photo courtesy of Masak-Masak
I simply love love this! Soft slithery slices of young coconut flesh encased in a light jelly - yumms!
Pumpkin Chocolate Custard (RM18) - photo courtesy of Masak-Masak
Served a bit differently, with vanilla sauce and a dark chocolate centre!
Banana Fritters (RM12)
Special banana fritters (rolled in springroll skin) served with vanilla ice-cream
Roasted Banana (RM12) - a healthy dessert certainly! Roasted bananas topped with assorted nuts and mixed fruits; squeeze some lime, lemon and honey on them before eating. Absolutely delicious - a must-order dessert for me.
Glutinuous Rice with Mango (RM20) - this is only served if Thai mangoes are in season. A whole mango is served with a scoop of soft, slightly-chewy steamed glutinuous rice. Just lovely.
Round off your meal with some refreshing drinks - mostly featuring lemongrass, pandan, ginger, mints in the concoction.
- photo courtesy of Masak-Masak
Reservations is a MUST and Anan will tell you the preferred time to be at the restaurant. Many of the dishes have to be pre-ordered as well - this is their way of ensuring only the freshest and authentic ingredients are used in your dishes. Their menu is available in their website - do go through it and pre-order before you go!
22-1 Jalan PJU 5/16
Dataran Sunway Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya
LUNCH: Fridays-Sundays @ 12.00pm to 3.00pm
DINNER: Tuesdays-Sundays @ 6.00pm to 10.30pm
Closed on Mondays