Thai flavors in Panama

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Sit in the kantok area for a traditional dining experience over wooden panels. All the decoration of the restaurant was brought from Thailand.

Sit in the kantok area for a traditional dining experience over wooden panels. All the decoration of the restaurant was brought from Thailand.

Transport yourself to the exotic country of Thailand by visiting the new Panama City restaurant, The Garden 2112. Gigantic glass windows with a carved wooden door, welcome diners to this establishment designed in the style of a house in Thailand.

Plates, silverware, chairs, vases, decoration, and furbishing were all designed and made in Thailand especially for the restaurant and brought back to Panama. Female waitresses wear silk dresses, with a “sabay” band and traditional head jewelry. Authenticity is the key in this restaurant that features cuisine from four Thai chefs, including head chef Sompoch Changniam, better known as Chef Né.

The restaurant host is Thai and all the waitresses wear traditional Thai attire.

The restaurant host is Thai and all the waitresses wear traditional Thai attire.

Emilio Carcur, the owner, fell in love with Thailand, its culture and its people. Thailand is a country that was never invaded by other cultures, so citizens are very proud of their roots. His first restaurant, The Garden 2112, is located in Madrid, Spain. The Panamanian partner of the restaurant was a frequent diner in Emilio’s Madrid restaurant and convinced the restauranteur to open a second in Panama.

Chef Né was working for the ambassador of Thailand in Madrid and accepted the invitation to move to Panama and delight Panamanians with Thai cuisine.

The menu is presented with an orchid and has an extensive list of options. Those who have trouble choosing can try the degustation menu. The six plate appetizer options include: chicken brochettes marinated in coconut milk and peanut sauce, shrimp tails filled with peanuts and spices, wrapped in rice pasta, spring rolls, pork and shrimp patties, fried shrimp and squid patties mixed with corn, and Thai-style vermicelli salad with chicken, lemon and celery.

Main dishes consist of Massaman Thai, a meat dish with red curry and potatoes; fish in tamarind sauce; Kai Phat Med Mamuand, chicken stir fry with soy sauce and vegetables, and chicken breast in tamarind sauce wrapped in banana leaves. Dishes come with a side of Khao Suai, made with white jasmine rice. Desserts can be a choice of sweets and fruit.

Try a little bit of everything with the degustation menu that offers six options of appetizers, four entrees and dessert.

Try a little bit of everything with the degustation menu that offers six options of appetizers, four entrees and dessert.

The degustation menu costs $37 per person and requires a minimum of two people. Diners can choose how spicy they want their food. Another option is the executive menu available for lunch, that includes a selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts for $18.50.

Thai food also offers some tasty desserts. Try the Kanom Karok, a light rice dough with coconut milk, sugar and cooked corn or Sukho Thai, sticky rice with banana and black beans with coconut milk.

Those who want a different dining experience can sit in the “kantok” area with movable wooden panels that allow guests to sit on the floor. “Kantoks” are set for couples but can fit up to six. This traditional style has a table over the floor and guests put their feet into holes in the ground, sitting on pillows.

The Garden 2112 is open from 12 noon to 3:30 p.m. and 7 to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week. Friday and Saturday the restaurant closes at 11 p.m. and on Sunday is open for lunch. For reservations contact 209-2155/56 or borjathegardenpanama@gmail.com.

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