Last Night's Dinner – Saan, Auckland

. March 31, 2016
Photography by India Essuah.
Last Night's Dinner – Saan, Auckland

A Thai restaurant centred on tradition, Saan's delicious menu and stunning interior combine to create a rather beautiful dining experience.

An expert in Thai food descended from a line of successful chefs, Saan's head chef Wichian Trirattanavatin (known as Lek) has created a menu focused on authentic recipes brimming with fresh flavours and herbs. Influenced by childhood food memories and the incredibly high standards his grandmother had when choosing ingredients, the recipes on Saan's menu have been passed on to him from his family. Thus, Lek's main concern is that his recipes respect the tradition and culture he grew up with.

The result is an expansive menu designed to share – the dishes are grouped by size and ordered depending on spice. Poring over the menu, each option sounds as incredible as the next, and decision-making is made easier knowing that each is sure to be delicious, and a little surprising. At Lek's recommendation, we opted for the Kua Mek (wok seared cuttlefish with pickles cucumber, herbs, chilli, lemongrass, crushed peanuts and green chilli sauce). Another favourite was the crispy fried soft-shelled crab with pickled crab and coconut sauce, dill and coriander – apparently one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Perhaps the tastiest dish we tried was the Taohu Prik Khing – a new alternative to a recipe usually made with braised pork belly. The restaurant is increasing the amount of vegetarian options on their menu, and this dish (a combination of stir fried firm tofu, red curry paste, snake beans, chilli, kaffir lime and green peppercorns) is a delicious addition. When a paste is made fresh, you can almost discern the individual flavours, yet they work together really harmoniously. Our next course, the Yum Pla Grob was a visual showstopper, a deep-fried whole fish with herbs, shallots and cashew nuts with spicy sweet and sour dressing.

At this point, it was a little tricky to find room for dessert, but we were tempted by the Khao Piak (wild sticky rice pudding with caramelised pineapple, young coconut, palm seeds, cashews and coconut sauce) as well as the Tub Tim Grob (caramelised water chestnuts, palm fruit, jackfruit and young coconut meat in jasmine and rose syrup, topped with smoky coconut milk). Both were fairly light options with the Tub Tim Grob in particular providing an intriguing combination of flavours and textures with every bite. The restaurant surrounds are just as gorgeous – its softly toned interior that exudes calm and was filled with light when we visited for lunch. Whether you're after a calm refuge from the bustle of the inner city or a dinner flavoursome enough to take you to Thailand and back, Saan is one to add to your must-try list. 

Thanks to the team at Saan we have a $150 restaurant voucher to give away. Click here to enter the draw.

160 Ponsonby Road
Opening Hours
Saturday to Tuesday: 5pm – late
Wednesday to Friday: 12pm – late