Good things come in small packages, they say. And this stands true for this pretty little restaurant located in the bustling Phase 5 market in Defence that I had the chance to drop by during the recent Eid holidays with family.
Ve’era 5 is a Thai and Chinese restaurant that opened its doors around a year and a half ago. Ve’era -- meaning successful in Thai -- is the brainchild of two young home cooks who wanted to share their love for food with others and trained themselves to develop a holistic menu.
With a barrage of Asian eateries in town, Ve’era 5 aims to serve delicious, nearly authentic Thai food that the owners claim is suited to the local palate.
A tiny structure that may even go unnoticed from the outside, Ve’era 5 gives off a very warm, comforting, classic European vibe once you step inside. With just a handful of tables and benches on the ground floor and mezzanine, the shades of white and pink with a smattering of pop culture quotes and wall hangings for decor, this eatery embodies minimalism and doesn’t really follow the Asian theme that many of its competitors feel compelled to. And that’s perfectly alright. The traditional Chinese tea set-up at the reception also instantly draws attention.
The compact menu boasts of some Thai and Chinese favourites, but also offers a handful of their own creations for those looking to experiment and avoid run-of-the-mill food. The hands-on owners are ready to assist you should you seek any guidance in selecting your meal. The menu also identifies the portion size of each dish – whether it serves one person or more.
The first appetiser was Hand-Folded Wontons served on a flat stone platter. The wontons were crispy to a tee, filled with a delicious, mild concoction of minced chicken and button mushroom, and sprinkled with crushed roasted peanuts. They were served with two in-house sauces. It’s difficult to stop eating these wontons as leave you salivating.
The other appetiser was Sriracha Wings that were served on a similar platter over a banana leaf. What immediately catches one’s eye is the dollops of a shiny spicy glaze on top of the wings sprinkled with sesame seeds. Let there be no doubt about it -- the wings are fiery! However, as the name suggests, I expected and would have liked heaps of Sriracha sauce, but what you get tastes like a buffalo sauce – not that it’s not delicious and explosive.
After devouring the appetisers, it was time for the mains each of which is served with a choice of four bowls of rice – Thai fried, Chinese fried, sticky and garlic. The Beef A’la Sichuan consists of soft, tender, juicy chunks of beef with assorted veggies and a mild, yet delicious gravy. Great for those who love Thai food but are not too fond of a lot of spices.
Crispy Chicken in Ve’era Thai Sauce is a hearty, pleasant plate of food. Placed on banana leaves are slices of perfectly cooked fried chicken with a crispy, crunchy coating. The slices are smothered with a tangy Thai-flavoured sauce developed in-house which consists of fish sauce to add a slight sweetness and balance the flavours. It is then topped with some Thai red chilli and sesame seeds with a little vegetable salad and peanuts on the side. It is wholesome, fulfilling and lip-smacking.
The Pad Thai with Prawns, again served on a plate over banana leaves, looks glorious with a mound of rice noodles mixed with a tangy sauce, chilli flakes, peanuts, herbs and a generous amount of well-cooked prawns. On the side were served roasted peanuts and chilli flakes. But one bite into this enticing dish and you realise something wrong. And that was the tough, chewy noodles and the sourness level just a tad bit more than what would have balanced all the flavours; the sour after-taste was slightly overpowering.
The Bangkok Style Black Pepper Chicken is a colorful, flavourful dish with tender chicken chunks cooked in a black pepper sauce and vegetables. The peppery flavour is bold and pronounced, but just enough to let other flavours shine through as well.
Besides the Thai and Chinese delicacies, the menu also includes some mouth-watering, classic Asian soups, vegetables, seafood entrees and a couple of desserts. The major plus point of Ve’era 5 is the generous portion size; it is sure to leave you fulfilled. And the good thing is that the prices correspond to the quantity of food. It’s just that a non-Defence resident may think twice before planning to travel all the way to Phase 5.
Originally published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019