Fireback – Tasting Thailand in Siolim

Esha Aphale | January 3, 2024 | Life

Tucked in a quintessential Portuguese bungalow in Goa, Fireback is an authentic Thai restaurant curated by David Thompson, in the by-lanes of Siolim. Sitting by the river-side, I had the opportunity to try various Thai dishes and their ingredient-focused cocktail program.

Named after the Thai national bird, the Siamese Fireback, Fireback is Rohit Khattar’s, Founder Chairman EHV, endeavour to create an authentic yet approachable Thai food experience. Supported by Chef David Thompson’s expertise in Thai cuisine, the Fireback experience is more than just an experimental afternoon of trying an unfamiliar cuisine; it is a dining experience filled with familiar flavours curated uniquely, honouring Thai-style cooking.

Upon entering, you have the option to dine indoors in a modern glass house, where you can observe the chefs crafting your meal, or by the riverside with St. Anthony’s Church as a picturesque backdrop. The ambience, complemented by the soothing sounds of the gurgling river, swaying coconut trees, and the salty Goan air, truly elevates the dining experience.

(L-R) Pineapple Som Tam salad; Charred Cabbage and a Tamarind Dip

In the realm of global culinary traditions, salads often mark the start of a meal. During my Thai dining experience, I began with a Pineapple Som Tam salad – a visually appealing dish that offered a mix of refreshing, sweet, and tangy flavours. The salad featured fresh pineapple slices, mint leaves, and a variety of ingredients showcasing the diverse essence of Thai cuisine. It served as a refreshing introduction to the flavours that would follow in the rest of the meal.

Led by Chef Gautam, the brand chef at Fireback, the culinary journey continued with Fried Pork Belly accompanied by Charred Cabbage and a Tamarind Dip. Chef Gautam suggested trying the pork belly with the dip first and then wrapping it in cabbage for the next bite. This simple approach transformed the dish from a combination of textures and flavours to a balanced blend of freshness, richness, and heartiness. The charred cabbage added a subtle crunch, enhancing the overall experience without overwhelming the palate.

For someone who is apprehensive about consuming seafood unless it’s homecooked, the Crispy Fried Squid turned out to be the pièce de résistance for me. The crispy fried outer covering of the squid perfectly complemented the soft, and fresh, meat of the squid. Opting for a minimalist approach to seasoning, a touch of black pepper was all that adorned this dish, allowing the natural flavours of the squid to become the hero without unnecessary complexity. Hesitant to try it at first, I enjoyed the simplicity and ease; a much-needed break between the colourful flavours.

Up next was the Miang Kham, a representation of Thailand on a plate, features wrapped ingredients in betel leaves. Each carefully assembled wrap introduces a variety of Thai flavours—bringing gentle notes of heat from ginger and chillies, a refreshing burst of tartness from lime, a subtle touch of saltiness from dried shrimp, and a hint of sweet nuttiness from the blend of coconut and peanuts. This culinary creation beautifully captures the essence of Thai cuisine in each bite, proving to be a unique dish on the menu.

I rounded the meal with Massaman Lamb Curry, which had flavours that were reminiscent of Indian spices. It was surprising to taste the Massaman Curry with jasmine rice at a Thai restaurant, so I asked the Chef about his inspiration behind including this dish on the menu. “A homage to the Muslims residing in Thailand,” explained Chef Gautam.

(L-R) Miang Kham; Fireback’s ultra modern interiors

The Grilled Sugar Banana dessert provided the perfect finale to the meal, offering a sublime balance that harmonised with the earlier flavour explosions. Paired with Tamarind an agave-based cocktail, the dessert experience was taken to new heights, elevating not only the final course but the entire culinary journey.

Despite the menu’s focus on authentic Thai cuisine, there was familiarity with the flavours due to the use of local ingredients and spices. As I stepped away from Fireback, the flavours of Thailand lingered on my palate, a testament to the artistry of Chef Thompson and Chef Gautam, and the unique blend of Thai authenticity in the heart of Goa.

Words by Esha Aphale.
Image courtesy Fireback.

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