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The ultimate pan-Asian dining experience - in the heart of the Algarve

Updated: Jun 18

There’s Thai food… and then there’s authentic Thai Food.

Turns out, I’d always mistaken the former, for the latter, as this most recent experience of traditional Bangkok cuisine, served to prove.

Besides highlighting my ignorance as to what ACTUALLY constitutes a good ‘green curry’ (hint: it’s a ‘spice science’…that’s for sure!) my evening at the pan-Asian restaurant Sensai - located at the Anantara Vilamoura - proved to be surprisingly educational.

Most notably, the experience highlighted the little known health aspects of so many of the key ingredients used in this type of cooking.

For example, the starter dish of Miang Kam that we ordered (featuring dried shrimp, betel leaves, peanut, lime, ginger, shallot, chilli, roasted coconut and Miang Kam sauce) is especially high in antioxidants and boasts superior digestive properties…

For main courses, we enjoyed the restaurant’s signature green curry (of course) alongside the stir fried mince pork (with oyster sauce,  chilli, garlic and basil.)

In both dishes, what shone through was how Chef Arwuth Boribal (who is visiting Vilamoura from the Anantara in Bangkok) has such unique skill and passion for juxtaposing spicy, sweet, sour, salty and savoury in his cooking.

The green curry, in particular, has set a new benchmark, since the journey from sweet-to-heat on the palette was like none I’d been on before.

For dessert, the Bua Loy (Thai rice dumplings with sweetened coconut milk, and egg yolk) was certainly more ‘out there’ than I’d normally be inclined to try… but my husband has a taste for the out-of-the-ordinary, and said it was outstanding!

Chef Arwuth explained how this traditional recipe (which was particularly popular a century ago!) is one that he is passionate to reintroduce to his guests.

My choice - the Kluai Buat Chi (bananas in sweetened coconut milk) - was a truely tropical treat, like none I’ve tasted before.

Hot and velvety sweet, it was the sort of dish I could see myself enjoying even outside the realms of dessert. If summer did porridge… it would surely look like this!

As far as dining experiences go, Sensai was unique, insightful and indulgent in equal measure.

The highlight, besides the food and unending greenscape views, was the opportunity to meet Chef Arwuth - the man behind the menu.

His passion for Thai gastronomy was palpable, and was the crowning accompaniment to this unique and delicious glimpse into authentic Thai gastronomy, enjoyed in the heart of the Algarve.

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