It was a busy work week for both Stan and I, so we thought what better way to reward ourselves than to indulge in a upmarket Thai restaurant. After reading up some rave reviews and visiting its Facebook page, we decided to give Itsara a go. An intricate sculpture modeled after a prow of a Royal Barge greeted us as we walked into the lavishly decorated restaurant. We were seated next to the big glass windows and had a nice view of the restaurant garden, where according to its Facebook page, some of the fresh ingredients for its dishes derived from. The creatively named dishes was what piqued our interests and given the fact that the head chef is a renowned molecular biologists, Stan and I expected some creative and artful twists to the traditional Thai dishes.
For entree, we ordered Lovers Pillows, which consisted of four intricate egg net parcels of spiced prawn and caramelized pork with Thai spices, coriander and peanuts, served with a sweet vinegar dressing on the side. The texture of the entree was lovely with the soft pillowy texture of the egg nets and the crunch of the fillings. However, Stan and I found that $19.50 for four small egg parcels with inexpensive ingredients was rather hefty.
Next, we had the Half Moon as our second entree. It is a crispy Thai pancake with king prawns, preserved turnip, flavoured coconuts, crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, served with a tangy cucumber relish. Despite the dish being well-balanced, taste and texture wise, the cucumber relish itself was a let down as it was the same sweet vinegar sauce we had with the first entree.
Stan and I knew the portions would be small, so we ordered rice for two to eat alongside our main dishes. For the mains, we ordered the highly recommended, Nectarous Duck curry and Mermaid Delight. The duck curry was rich and creamy and the duck meat was charred perfectly but the dish still fell short as they were rather stingy with their ingredients with two measly lychees and a few pieces of duck meat for $34.50 a pop.
The largest letdown of all was the Mermaid Delight. The menu described the dish as crispy stir fish of the day coated with ‘unique full-flavoured chill jam’, spring onion, cashew nuts and capsicum. For the price we paid, we were expecting a decent serving of the fish but just like the duck curry, there were only a few small pieces of fried fish and the chili jam was not as ‘unique’ as the menu had boasted.
Itsara did somehow redeemed itself with its desserts. Stan ordered the ginger and kaffir lime infused creme brulee. Presentation wise, it was nothing spectacular but don’t be fooled as the ginger and kaffir lime gave an unexpected but pleasant twist to this French dessert. On the other hand, I ordered the Thai tea crepe layer cake with a cashew and rice pop praline. I thought the concept of the dessert itself was rather creative. It might not be the best crepe cake but the taste was well-balanced with the not so sweet crepe cake offsetting the sweetness of the Thai tea ice cream and the rice pop praline giving it the extra crunch for texture.
Despite all the rave reviews that Stan and I had read, Itsara was a bit of a letdown for us as there were really some hit and misses. The dishes were good and the ingredients used were fresh but we just didn’t think that the hefty prices were justifiable. It was a pleasant dining experience for us but sadly, we doubt that we would pay this place another visit.