A trip to Thailand is always a popular choice at the start of the New Year for those seeking to escape the cooler Andalusian days and get a fix of winter sun. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to spend the money or time away from our daily business. So what better way to transport you to the exotic pastures of South East Asia than a top Thai meal? And we kid you not, the food at new restaurant Top Thai in Centro Plaza is so authentic that if you close your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself sitting on a busy street in Bangkok or at a beach bar in Koh Phi Phi, looking out on an expanse of glistening aquamarine water. So on a miserable January day in Marbella we headed into Top Thai to indulge in some delectable foreign delights. As is always the way when eating in a group, the best way to proceed is with a sharing platter starter and Top Thai’s version, which included Prawn Toast, Spring Roll with Chicken, Beef and Chicken Satay Skewers and Prawn Spring Rolls did not disappoint. The assortment of dips accompanying the platter perfectly complimented the crispy starter bites, the chicken spring roll served with a honey dip was particularly popular and caused a bit of a ruckus when it came down to deciding who deserved the last one.
Dishes cleared and the chicken spring roll dispute settled, we moved on eagerly to the main event. I opted for a Red Thai Curry with Prawns, which was served with Sticky Rice. With every mouthful I was treated to a large juicy prawn, sweet cherry tomato and fragrant lychee, all soaked in the exquisite red curry soup. Another Thai classic – Tom Kha Gai - was ordered by one of my dining partners; bathed in a creamy coconut sauce, the chicken in this dish was deliciously tender. Others in the group decided on Grilled King Prawns with Thai Sauce, which was a delicious blend of chili and lime and made the perfect partner for the tasty prawns. But ultimate food envy was granted to one lucky individual on the table when his main course arrived – Ped Top Thai. This roasted duck option was a mouth-watering combination of soft meat and crispy skin, dished up with a honey and tamarind sauce. And finally (we couldn’t resist) we ordered the staple dish, Pad Thai to share among us. Rich in ingredients, the egg noodles, crunchy vegetables, prawns, crushed peanuts and lime were coated in a sweet tamarind sauce.
Main courses finished and with just enough room for a sweet, we thought it wrong not to go for at least a couple of desserts. The Mango and Sticky Rice was splendid, while the Cold Fruit Platter was refreshing and thirst quenching. Then the godfather of all desserts – Banana Fritters coated in honey and served with creamy vanilla ice cream provided the perfect finish. The crispy fritter encasing the soft banana was a match made in heaven.
So with the final slurp of Strawberry Daiquiri – yes, Top Thai also serves up exotic cocktails with the most flamboyant of fruit decorations - we had to be reminded that we were, in fact, still in Southern Spain. We did not need a tuk tuk to get home nor was a deep-sea dive planned for the following morning, but our meal at least was the closest we had come to being on the Asian continent this year, so for that we congratulate you Top Thai.
Top Thai Restaurant
Centro Plaza 64, Av. Manolete 1
Nueva Anadalucía, Marbella
Tel. 951 319 778 / 672 028 210
This month SOCIETY MARBELLA gained exclusive access to one of the most highly anticipated new venues of recent times – D-wine.
Opening this month, D-wine will play host to one of the most extensive collections of wine in the whole of Spain with over 70,000 bottles and 3,000 different labels all scored with 90 plus points from world renowned wine expert Robert Parker and Spain’s José Peñin and from every region of the country. Francisco, one of the D-wine sommeliers, met with our Features Editor to give an insight into what this innovative and exciting new venture is all about.
It would be difficult for even the most dedicated beer drinker to remain unmoved by wine when walking through the doors of D-wine and being met with the enthusiasm and passion of its staff. “We want to be different” Francisco tells us, “We want to take time with each individual customer to show them all that is great about Spanish wine; when to drink a certain wine and with which accompaniment. We want to spread our passion for wine.”
Displaying his extensive experience of the world of fine wine, Francisco starts our tour in the most exclusive section of the venue. The walls are ined with the very best wine cellars, meticulously set at optimum humidity and temperature and storing the most sought after and exquisite labels in Spain, and the world. These include the rarest bottles and vertical collections of renowned Pingus, Vina Tondonia,Clos Erasmus, L’Ermita and Vega Sicilia as well as lesser-known wines, which will take even the most experienced wine drinkers by surprise. There is a large central tasting bench, which will give centre stage to Spanish winemakers delivering presentations, wine experts giving technical wine classes, wine tasting sessions and all manner of wine related activities. A terrace lounge provides a place for guests to relax and enjoy a Cognac, fine Rum and of course special wines while reading their way through D-wine’s collection of Spanish wine and gastronomic gems. Last but by no means least, a wine dispenser system. This pioneering piece of equipment dispenses high-end wines by the glass at the swipe of a card. The dispenser system is also available at a number of areas throughout the D-wine venue to allow up to a maximum of 32 wines to be available to taste by the glass.
“This is totally unique”, enthuses Francisco, “Nowhere in the Spain can you try as many special wines by the glass”
We leave the big name wine labels behind and head over to the next section of the premises, which boasts over a thousand different wines that are specifically chosen because they provide excellent value for money. These bottles are more averagely priced yet still possess excellent flavours and, of course, those special Parker and Peñin Point’s which signify the superb quality of the label. “The essence in this area is high quality and good prices,” Francisco tells me.
Onto the third area of D-wine, which showcases the country’s best vintages and is enclosed within glass walls in order to monitor humidity and temperature levels. The labels here are organized in verticals, which is very unusual in Spain. A customer could purchase a collection of bottles of any winery from past years till the actual one to contrast and compare the different flavours through time. There are also magnums, double magnums and bottles of up to 18 litres available to purchase, perfect for a dinner party of 20 guests or more.
As we marvel at the scope of this venture, Francisco reveals still more services. “We can also help individuals who want to create their own wine cellar at home,” Francisco suggests. “So if somebody comes into the store and says I want a cellar of around 300 bottles all priced around the €30 mark, we can advise them on what labels to buy and when to drink specific bottles in the collection at their absolute best.” It seems the sky really is the limit at D-wine.
We end our tour in the restaurant and terrace area, which comfortably seats 100 people (140 could be accommodated but the D-wine team want guests to feel relaxed and special). The restaurant will offer Spanish and Japanese cuisine by head chef Kengo Tomita and his team, using the very best local ingredients all of which will of course be paired with a recommended wine. The terrace is suitable for both summer and winter with its state-ofthe- art pergola, heating for winter months and vapour cooling system for the warmest months . It is the ideal place to hook up with a group of good friends and the most delectable of wines, chosen with the unobtrusive help of one of the sommeliers.
Overwhelmed by the many facets of this new establishment, we thank Francisco who will undoubtedly make it his mission to welcome and educate everyone who crosses the D-wine threshold, from the most amateur of wine drinkers to the greatest expert.
“We are happy to learn together,” he says as he walks us to the door, “This place is dynamic, and we would like to invite everyone to be a part of it”.
Calle Norte, 2, 29670, Marbella
(Take exit for Cortijo Blanco,
immediately after the San Pedro
tunnel). Tel. 952 814 446
D-Wine is an ‘oenogastronomic’ space meaning that guests are invited to participate in tasting both fine food and fine wine when they visit the restaurant.
The concept of D-wine revolves around allowing visitors to enjoy drinking wines that are at their optimum condition. The D-Wine team is aware that there is a tendency amongst restaurants to serve bottles of wine that are often premature, whereas the D-wine sommeliers believe it is worth waiting to serve certain labels so they can be enjoyed at their perfect condition. D-wine boasts a selection of over 3000 different labels, which suit all palettes and price budgets. The wine list has been selected by the expert D-wine sommeliers and recommended in the respective guides of José Peñin and Robert Parker. Both men continually seek to find new tastes and revive the old as they try thousands of different wine labels around Spain each year.
One of the innovative features at D-Wine that aids the wine tasting experience is their exclusive ‘wine by the glass’ dispenser system. You can choose to try up to 32 wines selected by their expert sommeliers to find the perfect bottle to take home and enjoy. This is the first of its kind in Spain and reflects D-wine’s pioneering spirit. Specialist fridges have also been installed into the building to maintain specific temperature levels for the many different bottles.
We eagerly await the opening of the venue in February 2014!
Calle Norte, 2, 29670, Marbella
(Take exit for Cortijo Blanco,
immediately after the San Pedro
tunnel). Tel. 952 814 446
SOCIETY MARBELLA speaks to D-Wine Chef Kengo Tomita.
When D-Wine opens in February, the venue will be offering small ‘tapas-style’ dishes that hint towards Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine. Kengo Tomita will be leading the Japanese half of the kitchen team at D-Wine. He tells us, “my aim is to create dishes that are healthy, full of colour and tasty.”
Kengo has extensive experience in the culinary world. ‘I have worked at various prominent five star hotel restaurants including Hotel Finca Cortesin, Villa Padierna and the Alva Park Hotel in Gerona,’ he informs us. Kengo has also gained experience outside of Spain; he worked as a Sous Chef at Spanish restaurant ‘Al Hambra’, part of the ‘Al Qasr’ Hotel in the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. As well as this, the chef led a culinary team in Russia for the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow, Russia in 2007.
Kengo is committed to the invention of new culinary delights; he says, “day by day I want to continue to build upon my training and expertise, creating increasingly delicious dishes.”
One of Kengo’s most renowned dishes has to be his soaked pears with mascarpone sorbet, which was included in the 2004 Michelin Guide whilst he was working at Fonda Sala restaurant in Olost, near Barcelona. Furthermore, all ingredients will be locally sourced from D-wine partner Cristobal Ordonez who owns a 100% organic farm in Coin and provides the freshest products to create the most flavoursome dishes. An authentic charcoal grill will be an additional feature on the site to further add to the incomparable cuisine available at D-wine.
Alongside working within such prestigious hotel groups, Kengo has been selected to work with some of the world’s best chefs. For example, he was invited to be involved in the organization and execution of one particularly exclusive wedding banquet by Michelin star chef Elena Arzak.
‘Kengo and his team are certainly committed to deliver exquisite creations to perfectly compliment your wine tasting experience at the venue from February onwards.’
Last month El Rincón de la Sala reopened its doors following a fresh, new redesign. Despite only being closed for a few days, the changes are incredibly distinct.
We decided to level out the restaurant to create a more united experience for our diners and to ensure that the live music and atmosphere could be enjoyed by every customer, whether eating in the restaurant or drinking at the bar,” explained Howard Holland, General Manager of El Rincón de la Sala.
Despite no increase in size, the restaurant appears much more spacious and inviting. “The changes have enabled the musicians to interact with the clients and create a vivacious ambiance allowing guests to go from dinner, through to drinks and dancing,” continued Howard.
In addition to the changes within the restaurant, the bar has also been moved offering a much more expansive area to enjoy El Rincón de la Sala’s fantastic value cocktails. Every evening from 9pm until midnight, customers can select any cocktail for just 5€. Alternatively the broad gin and tonic menu offers everything from Gin Mare with Rosemary, Pink 47 with Raspberries and Strawberries and Tanqueray Ten with Lime and Cardamom, all served with your preferred tonic.
As well as fashioning an enhanced area for drinkers, the new bar will become the platform for El Rincón de la Sala’s fantastic new offering. From this month, a delicious selection of ‘pintxos’ will be available every day featuring everything from traditional Spanish omelette and Serrano Ham with ‘Pimientos del Padron’ to further unique creations. As well as the new pintxos, the daytime menu offers all the Andalucian favourites including Prawn Pil Pil, Clams in Garlic, Parsley and Wine Sauce and Fried Calamari El Rincón style. If you prefer an international choice the Chicken Peri Peri Pita and the Mini Burger Trio never fail to disappoint.
During the evening El Rincón de la Sala’s a la carte menu boasts a delicious selection of meats cooked on the exclusive Charcoal Grill which utilises a variety of wood chips such as Pecan, Apple, Maple and Oak. Charcoal grilling is the oldest method of cooking, a process that not only adds flavour but due to the intensity of the heat, seals the food quickly and keeps the moisture in, allowing the fat to melt away slowly. The fish selection is also worth crediting with Baked Whole Fish of the Day in Salt and Sala’s famous Spaghetti Vongole proving exceptionally popular.
With breakfast starting from 1.50€ and specials including a Full English with coffee, tea or orange juice for just 5.95€ on Saturdays and Sundays, El Rincón de la Sala is the ideal spot for breakfast. Relax in the sunshine on the al fresco terrace amidst the quaint atmosphere of the San Pedro town and enjoy fresh croissants, light omelettes or a hearty grilled English sausage baguette.
Every weekend El Rincón de la Sala comes alive with the sounds of the some of the coast’s finest musicians. Masquerade start the weekend in style with a vibrant set on Friday nights, followed by Gemma and Vicky and Ernesto continuing the weekend’s celebrations.
On Sundays a children’s entertainer is on hand to keep the little ones content, providing an ideal setting to enjoy a Sunday roast with all the family. Once a month Paul Maxwel, The Piano Man, takes to the stage creating an ambiance like no other, performing the greatest tracks from across the ages.
Whether you are looking for a light lunch, a tapa or two or you want to party into the early hours, El Rincón de la Sala offers an incredible atmosphere with a touch of Spanish tradition and flavour.
EL Rincón de la Sala
Tel: 951 506 249
Calle Marqués del Duero,
San Pedro de Alcántara
Picture the scene: you are out and about with your favourite gang of girls and it’s a winter evening, dark and cold. Of course, you are all starving.
What should your first move be?
We have been huge fans of Bollywood since it opened, so it took us less than a minute to move the action to Urbanisation Fuente Aloha, which is where this appealing Indian restaurant is located.
Bollywood is always buzzing and is open for dinner from 6:00pm to midnight, which means that it has quickly gained a reputation as one of the most popular Asian restaurants in Marbella.
The welcome that our party of four received was typically warm. We requested a table as far away from the entrance as we could and were rewarded by some gorgeous aromas from the kitchen.
When we go out in a group our problem is always that we spend ages deciding on which dish to order, only to find that we later wish that we had chosen something that another member of the group was eating. This is yet another reason why we often choose to dine at Bollywood, since it makes more sense to order a range of dishes from every point on the Scoville scale so that normally cautious diners can experiment with something spicier and vindaloo fans can also enjoy the subtle flavours of a korma.
Our usual routine is to order drinks first and by the time we are about halfway through the second glass of wine we have come to some agreement on our order.
For our selection we decided that the Assorted Platter (consisting of Seekh Kebab, Chicken Tikka, Vegetable Pakora, Meat and Vegetable Samosas and Onion Bhaji) would give us all a chance to sample some of the old favourites for which the Bollywood chefs are famous. We also opted for the Spiced Deep Fried Potatoes and Boneless Chicken Pieces in Chickpea Batter, which only goes to prove how accurate the saying is about eyes being larger than stomachs; when the plates arrived on the table we all started to laugh as the size of the challenge began to sink in.
Of course, in our usual fashion we managed to make this demanding task seem easy, the combination of the spicy flavours and crunchy textures combining to set up a series of wonderful taste explosions.
For our main courses we had ordered the Lamb Vindaloo (whenever we visit we vow to try the Phal, but wimp out every time), King Prawn Curry, Chicken Tandoori and Goan Curry. The latter was listed as one of the Bollywood Specials and was highly recommended by our waiter. It turned out to be a deliciously light curry from that very popular part of India, featuring fish and prawns in an aromatic, coconut flavoured sauce.
To accompany this we ordered Pulao Rice, Naan Bread and a couple of Chapatis, which meant that we had to do quite a bit of lateral thinking to accommodate our four large plates and all the dishes that were arriving. However, with a little imagination we eventually managed it. This is our favourite way of dining when we go as a group to Bollywood – everyone just digs in and shares. Occasionally our manners are less than perfect, but everyone has a great time and has the chance to try all the dishes.
We were very happy with our choices on this occasion, the spicier dishes contrasting with the Goan Curry, which we all agreed was the star of the evening. This is yet another of Bollywood’s great features; whether you consider yourself a bit of an expert on Asian food or have never seen the inside of an Indian restaurant before, the staff members are all very friendly and knowledgeable and are more than happy to share their expertise with you.
There was very little room left for dessert, but the delicious Mango Kulfis that we ordered certainly cooled our palates.
In our usual fashion, we then ordered four coffees to finish the evening. You are never rushed or made to feel unwanted at this family friendly Indian restaurant and we stayed for a few hours before moving on to our next destination.
Bollywood’s popularity is due to a combination of factors including a great location, extensive menu, friendly service and reliability. Every time we visit we have a brilliant evening and that is more than enough to make us repeat visitors.
T. 952 906 748
Avenida Del prado. Local 4, Edificio
Picaso, Aloha, 29660 Nueva Andalucia
Like Disneyworld, Café Yanx can always be relied upon to provide a thoroughly enjoyable family experience. Conveniently located in Nueva Andalucía’s bustling Centro Plaza, the Yanx team has worked hard to build a loyal clientele since it first opened its doors in 1997. Originally designed by Americans, which explains the authenticity of the décor, Yanx is now owned and managed by David Fisher, whose 25 years of experience in the catering and hospitality business explains why this phenomenally popular restaurant is still packing in the punters.
The Fishers owned restaurants, pubs and nightclubs all over the UK, so David was able to learn the business from an early age. Later he attended catering college and became head chef at three American style restaurants in Norwich, so when it comes to providing an experience that customers are happy to enjoy again and again, few restaurateurs are better qualified.
Its conveniently close proximity to Puerto Banús’s rastro means that it is full to bursting on Saturday mornings but, unlike many similar establishments, Yanx seems to be buzzing around the clock on every day of the week.
Much of its success can surely be attributed to the warm welcome extended to customers, both returning and new, by the superbly well trained staff. Of course, anyone who has ever visited America will be accustomed to the friendliness of the waiters and the promptness of the service and this is beautifully recreated by the Yanx team. Whether you are just popping in with a few friends for coffee or arriving with your extended family for a slap-up, threecourse feast, the five-star treatment is exactly the same.
Another of Yanx’s particular strengths is its consistency and reliability, a factor which has established it as one of Marbella’s most popular family restaurants. Of course, this should be a basic tenet of every café and restaurant, but wavering quality is a factor that has toppled many an otherwise excellent eatery. Yanx, however, continues to pull in the crowds; David Fisher has always been quick to name his staff as his secret weapon and he is quite correct. A determination to recreate the happy, relaxed air of an American diner and turning out reliably tasty dishes using the freshest produce available has paid dividends.
Putting the Yanx menu through its paces does require a certain amount of self-sacrifice, since the portions are so generous that we decided to fast beforehand. The starters, in particular, are wonderfully varied, so we decided to order several dishes and share them among our party of four. We are all big fans of Mexican food, so could not resist the Nachos, which were served with Chilli Beef, Jalapeños, Cheese and Guacamole and we teamed that up with a bowl of Chilli Con Carne with Corn Chips, Grated Cheese and Pico de Gallo. Yanx’s chilli beef is an experience that everyone should have at least once a month – first the beautifully authentic flavours and then the sudden burst of heat. Continuing the Tex-Mex theme, we opted for a bowl of Guacamole with Tortilla Chips and the delicious Letterman Skins, crispy Potato Skins grilled with Bacon and Cheese and served with Sour Cream.
We have visited Yanx so many times that we were familiar with their fabulous range of burgers, so we decided to choose something different. The Ho Chi Minh Rice promised to provide a touch of lightness after our substantial starters, consisting of Vietnamese Fried Rice, Chilli, Chicken, Shrimp and Soy Veg and served with an Egg on top. The Mountain Goat Salad also proved an excellent choice, the healthy Mixed Leaves, Diced Tomatoes and Pine Nuts salad was topped with a mouthwatering, melting Goat’s Cheese Crouton, its creamy texture contrasting with the crunch of the salad. We also enjoyed the San Francisco Noodles, which were prepared with Cucumber, Spring Onions, Sesame Seeds, Tamari Sauce and topped with delicious Crispy Fried Leeks. Although you can choose this dish with Chicken or Shrimps we decided to enjoy it as a vegetarian option and we were not disappointed with the wonderful textures and flavours, which were enhanced by the tasty tamari sauce. Our final choice was the fresh Pan Seared Salmon which had been covered in a gorgeous Honey and Soy Glaze and was served with a fabulous Pineapple Salsa, Pilau Rice and some crunchy Vegetables.
Like the starters, we elected to place these dishes in the centre of the table so that we could all sample each of them. What impressed us was what has also created Yanx’s enviable roster of return customers, namely the freshness of the ingredients and the attention paid to presentation; the food really does look as good as it tastes.
Ordering dessert could be considered foolhardy, but we are nothing if not intrepid. Our sweet selection consisted of a Best Little Brownie in the West with Vanilla Ice Cream and a superb Hot Chocolate and Caramel Sauce and the Baked Cheesecake with a Fresh Raspberry Coulis. Just to keep up the calorie count we combined that with the Alabama Apple Crisp and the Frozen Peanut Butter-Chocolate Pie, which also featured a Chocolate Glaze and a Hot Caramel Topping. We felt guilty after consuming all that deliciousness – but not so guilty that we passed up the Irish Coffees afterwards.
After pulling in the crowds for 26 years, most restaurants find that their popularity waxes and wanes, but Yanx has somehow found the elixir of perpetual success.
Centro Comercial Plaza, 7
Tel. 952 818 861