Refined Elegance & Originality In Hua Hin

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In our opinion, we are spoilt for choice when looking for great Thai food in Hua Hin. From the shiny 5 star resorts, to small family run raan aa-haans and everything in between. Then you try Tanyas Homemade Eatery at Seenspace Hua Hin; it certainly could not be described as anything in between. It really stands alone in both concept and delivery. Before we start talking about the food, you need know a little about what Tanya's is all about.

Chef Tai, Khun Nutchtakamol Songkhramsee, has a passion for using the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients to produce and present dishes that are driven by the flavours she grew up with; these are family recipes and treasured memories. The produce used in the kitchen must be grown in and around the area and be in season, which is when they are at their most flavoursome. If a planned ingredient is not available, it is replaced with something that is going to deliver in flavour and add to the dish.

The first thing that will strike you about the menu is its mix of classic Thai dishes, along with the use of some very unfamiliar ingredients. Today we asked Chef Tai to choose a couple of dishes she wanted us to try; we also selected two dishes that we wanted to sample. We have written below the dishes that were chosen and by whom.

Fried Mackerel w/- Spicy Mango Salad
Fried Mackerel w/- Spicy Mango Salad
Rich Red Beef  Curry
Rich Red Beef Curry
Our Choice:
Bplaa In-See Thot Yam Ma-muang
Fried Mackerel w/- Spicy Mango Salad.

We love eating mackerel in Thailand, though it is normally a smaller version called Bplaa Thuu. The mackerel in this dish is more akin to a Spanish mackerel and was utterly delish. When asked where Chef Tai sourced this, she laughed and said "local fisherman". What’s so funny? These fisherman, mainly hobbyists who love the sea and fishing, give her a call when they catch any of these fish; they anchor their boats not far from Seenspace to deliver them directly to the restaurant. The dish was really delicate in flavour, the fillet was perfectly grilled and matched perfectly with the punchy flavour of the mango salad; it was a flavour-bomb....wow! This dish is great for someone wanting a light, clean dish though still packing a punch.

Chef Tai's Choice:
Pha-naeng Neua Kho-Khun
Thai Rich Beef Curry

We love Pha-naeng here in Thailand, especially trying all the different, regional versions of this dish. This version had great richness and depth of flavour, with the pea eggplants cooked perfectly and the beef soft and tender. Sometimes it can be hard getting tender, local beef in Thailand, however Chef Tai has sourced this beef from a local farmer. It was cooked medium and cut the right way, against the grain, to ensure that it was tender.

Stir Fried Chicken & Cashew Nuts
Stir Fried Chicken & Cashew Nuts

Chef Tai's Choice:
Gai Phat Met Ma-muang-Him-ma-phaan Gap Saawt Ma-khaam
Stir Fried Chicken & Cashew Nuts w/- Tamarind Sauce.

This is a dish that we would not normally order, as it is often uninspiring. It is a very popular dish in many Western countries, where it’s sometimes billed as a Thai classic. This version took us completely by surprise. The chicken was soft and tender, stir fried with crispy vegetables and plenty of cashews. But what took this dish to new heights was the Tamarind sauce. Both sweet and sour, with neither dominating. It's still not a dish we will look t order, except when we next dine at Tanya's, as it was wonderful. It is a great dish to order as the non-spicy option in your balanced Thai meal.

Our Choice:
Lhai Bua Phat Naam Phrik Phao Gap Sa-phok Gai
Lotus Stem & Chicken Thighs Stir Fried w/- Chilli Paste.

We ordered this dish mainly due to the use of lotus stem, a vegetable which adds a wonderful crunch and texture to any dish. This was stir fried with chicken thigh meat and chilli paste. At Tanya's, they make their own chilli pastes, naam phrik phao; both spicy or mild. These are used in all their dishes, depending on what spice level the guests prefer. Today we did not stipulate any heat levels, rather let it come how Chef Tai wanted us to taste the it. We absolutely loved this dish!

Chef Tai's Choice:
Khao Phat Naam Phrik Kak Muu
Fried Rice w/- Chilli Paste & Pork Crackling

How tasty can a Khao Phat be?

This was no simple fried rice; it was a flavour and texture explosion. There was the homemade chilli paste mixed through the rice, the crunch of finely chopped pork crackling, soft boiled duck eggs served on the side and some local vegetables to add some freshness; a squeeze of lime was added at the table just to give it some zing; we could happily have devoured this dish on it’s own. It totally hit the mark.

Cold Thai Tropical fruit in Syrup
Cold Thai Tropical fruit in Syrup
Cleansing Natural Drink
Cleansing Natural Drink
One thing that struck us was that Chef Tai did not do any of the cooking today. Her sister is firmly in charge of the kitchen and delivering to Chef Tai's exacting standards. This speaks volumes for how Chef Tai is able to impart the knowledge required to cook these treasured memories and match her flavours perfectly. It is one thing to be able to cook your own menu, but to be able to teach and impart knowledge to replicate is a true skill. This bodes particularly well for a mooted opening of a branch in Bangkok; watch this space!

A Thai meal is not complete without some sweet treats. There is now a new menu which highlights some magnificent Thai sweets; both familiar and unfamiliar. This is the perfect thing to cleanse the palate and ensure your body is fully comforted.

What we drank with the meal

A Longan Ginger Tea and a drink called Honey Forget Monday. Whilst the Longan Ginger Tea represents the title but Honey Forget Monday??? This drink is made with real honey that has been fermented with herbs, cinnamon, cloves, pummelo, kaffir lime served with a splash of soda. How refreshing!

If you are wanting a more refined Thai dining experience, then Tanya’s at SeenSpace in Hua Hin should be firmly on your culinary radar. The flavours are refined, yet have an amazing depth of flavour. You can taste all of the ingredients, with everything being in balance; no single ingredient overshadowed any other. The menu has some classic Thai dishes that you will know, as well as ones that will take you outside your comfort zone. We are unashamedly fans of this establishment!

There are now two sections to the restaurant, with one section being more urban in its fitout and the other side, which is more homely, yet modern. Tanya’s is not licensed, though the staff can get you a winelist from a neighbouring venue if you wish to have a wine with your dinner.

This review is based on our own taste levels and our experiences of eating Thai food from different restaurants all across Thailand. We have now eaten several times at Tanya's and the consistency of flavours has always been there, along with the warmth of her team.

Fried Rice w/- Chilli Paste & Pork Crackling
Fried Rice w/- Chilli Paste & Pork Crackling

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