While you may have cheered to the New Year on December 31st or danced your way into the Chinese Year of the Dog in February, the Thai New Year is a celebration on a whole other level.
An important event on the Buddhist calendar, this water festival, Thailand’s most famous, marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year, with the festival’s name, Songkran, coming from a Sanskrit word symbolising transformation and change.
The festival will see Thai’s washing away the sins and bad luck of the previous year. April is also the hottest time of the year in Thailand, so the water fights are aptly timed.
Officially taking place from April 13th – 15th, Saba Dublin is prolonging the joyous festival by hosting events, tastings, competitions, as well as serving themed menus throughout April.
Speaking to Saba’s owner, Paul Cadden, and Executive Head Chef, Taweesak Trakoolwattana (Tao), ahead of the festival, the pair revealed what people can expect at Saba this April, with Paul explaining:
“We’re having events, special menus, wine tastings, beer tastings and more. What Tao’s doing this year is showcasing Irish produce. He’s using Dexter short rib from Killenure farm, Atlantic Halibut and Wicklow Lamb. They’re not the norm for us, but we wanted to showcase Irish produce and try out some different produce we haven’t used before.”
The menu Tao has created for the Thai New Year stays true to the traditional values of the Thai New Year, which is a celebration of family and sharing, as well as washing away all of the bad luck from the past year.
When asked what the Thai New Year means to him, Tao smiled, saying: “The Thai New Year for me is about really happy family days because people are always away from home, but they come back for the Thai New Year.”
He continued, explaining: “Families go to the temple together and the younger people wash the hands of the older people and we all feel happy and healthy. And after, everyone has a party and dinner together.”
For those who don’t live at home in Thailand, like Tao, they make sure to phone home during the week: “If you don’t have time to go back home to Thailand, people always ring their families and wish them health and happiness for the year. When your family wishes you good luck for work, you feel happier and it makes you feel more confident when you’re missing home.”
Echoing Tao’s comments about the symbolic ceremonies, Paul says it’s a time for everybody to “renew their new year’s resolutions”, joking “especially those that didn’t work out earlier in the year”. He also remembers one of the more entertaining aspects of the Thai New Year festival:
“In Thailand, it’s a crazy week and there are cars driving around with the sun roofs down and super soakers in their hands. There are water fights at traffic lights and it’s just great.”
In the pure banter of great friends, Tao describes the water fights as “such a fun time of the year” especially with April being so hot.
Chiming in, Paul adds: “So it’s basically a lot of super soakers”, resulting in laughter from the pair, who have worked together for over 12 years.
Sadly, there’s no chance of any water fights breaking out in Saba during the Thai New Year festival, but there will be a lot of opportunities to experience tasty new cuisine and special cocktails.
This year’s menu includes a pan fried halibut marinated in a red curry paste and kaffir lime leaves with stir-fried morning glory and pickled soybeans.
Other dishes on the menu include Braised Killenure Dexter Beef Short Ribs with Lemongrass and Chilli Vermicelli Noodles and also Som Tam Pu Nim, which is a Thai Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Soft Shell Crab.
With these exciting dishes on the menu, you can be assured that Saba is the place to be for authentic Thai food during this year’s festivities, as Saba has been recognised by the Thai Embassy as a Thai Select Premium restaurant.
This award, launched by the Royal Thai Government, is a sign of truly authentic Thai cuisine, with the premium award indicating a 5-star degree of excellence in terms of authentic Thai food and outstanding service.
Speaking about the award, Paul said: “It was great to receive the Thai Select Premium award from the Thai embassy. It’s fantastic, especially for Tao, to get that recognition from your own country.”
Visibly delighted with the award, Tao added: “We got the Thai select premium award from the Thai Embassy and it’s a guarantee that our restaurant is a high standard in terms of Thai food. Of everywhere in Ireland, only Saba got the premium select.”
He added: “I didn’t expect to get that award, but they came and tried the food and I told them about the ingredients we use and how we order directly from Thailand. It’s a real strong point for us because we always use real authentic herbs and ingredients for our dishes.”
So celebrate family and friendship with delicious authentic Thai food during Songkran at Saba, which is taking place from Monday, April 9th to Sunday, April 22nd.
The New Year menu will be available in both Saba Upper Baggot Street and Clarendon Street. For more information about Saba and the Thai New Year, follow the social media hashtags #SabaThaiNY and #ThairishNY and visit sabadublin.com.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.