I've always loved Thai food. Well, at least I've started loving it some few years back when me and my family stumbled upon Jatujak during one of our shopping days at SM MOA in the Philippines. Mom loved their Pomelo salad so much that we eat there for at least 2-3x a month. Not too often you say? Well, my family lives in the province while I stay at the northern part of Manila and we travel all the way to SM MOA for Jatujak…and of course, some shopping. Hahaha.
A few nights after I arrived here in Dubai, my husband asked me where I would want to go for dinner. I should've said any Arabic restaurant, but knowing that my husband isn't as adventurous as I am with food, I just asked him to treat me to a nice Thai restaurant instead. Besides, I am beginning to miss Thai food. I actually consider it my comfort food. It's one cuisine I go to at times when I feel like eating more rice than the usual. Hahaha! The husband immediately knew where to bring me at that instant, but he reminded me it's not somewhere classy but he assured me that the food is good. He'd been there a couple of times already after he'd go diving with his friends, and it's the place where almost everyone would want to go each time.
We drove all the way to Al Wasl Road, and drove a bit slower as we reach the road behind a gas station. He said it isn't really easy to find the place. I was actually looking for some huge (flashy, even) sign that would direct us to it but there was none. My husband had his eyes on to his left for a time when I finally heard him say, "We're here!"
While walking at the dark alley, I saw a sign with a big Mona Lisa with a moustache. Yes, a moustache! I pointed it to my husband, and he said, "that's exactly where we're going."
Smiling BKK is a hole-in-the-wall quirky Thai restaurant, far from Dubai's usual expensive and fine dining. It's really different from the Thai restaurants I've been to in the past, but as always, I am open to new experiences.
Why Smiling BKK? I didn't get the chance to ask why. Should you know the story behind it, I would be more than grateful if you'd share it with me.
A Thai restaurant that uses Monalisa, a french icon, to be its muse? I'm sure I'm not the first one who got puzzled with it.
I haven't been to Bangkok, but my husband told me that the decorations inside are exactly like those that can be found in Bangkok: random photos, t-shirts and colourful lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The place is dark, but lighted just enough making it more cozy and perfect for romantic dates. Well, that is if you're date is not into candlelit dinners in an expensive, fine dining restaurant!
Each table has a tambourine, an elongated version, that is to be used to call the servers' attention. I didn't know that, so I immediately played with it right after we got seated at a table. Came the server, to whom I said, "but we're not yet ready to order.." I honestly think they often get that though.
A torn page from a magazine as a placemat? How resourceful!
I didn't know what to order so I let the husband ordered for us. Besides, he knows I eat almost anything (except for okra and liver!) so ordering for me won't be too hard.
Here's what he ordered:
Aerial Pingpong (Laab Hoy Malang Pooh), 41 Dhs
This is a Thai salad with steamed mussels. It's so tasty, you'd literally taste the burst of flavours inside your mouth. I would love to know what vinegar they use, it has that perfect sweet and sour mixture. Or maybe they're just using the normal vinegar then they just mix it with herbs?
Amazing Thailand (Tom Yummm with Prawns), 35 Dhs
This soup is just so-so for me. I had better from other Thai restos I've been to, but I can say it does have a generous serving of prawns in it.
Gold Member (Kao Pad Tom Yum Goong), 39 Dhs
Fried rice with prawns and tons of other herbs in it, making it a meal on its own. Pour over some of the sauce on it for more zest. Yummeh!
The Million Dollar Man (Pla Tod Gra Tiam), 49 Dhs
This is just our good 'ole tilapia drizzled with garlic and pepper. I've always loved Tilapia and this one's no exception. But probably I'll ask for less garlic next time.
Adding water and a can of Sprite, our bill amounted to 164 Dhs. Not so expensive, but not so cheap either. The servings are good enough for two, so you don't really have to order one dish (or viand) for each. Food is great, staff is friendly and I really love the uniqueness of the place. It feels like "underground" if you know what I mean. I'm pretty sure they don't offer the best Thai food in the city, but they do deserve a two-thumbs up with their fun, or rather inventive, setting.
When we arrived, we had to wait for a few minutes before getting seats and that's already around past 8pm. When we left at around 10pm, there were already lots of people outside waiting to be seated. So I guess this place is really popular. I notice a lot of westerners too! Me thinks it's a lot better for you to call first for reservation (+971 4 349 6677) most especially during weekends.
Will I go back?
Yes! And I'll definitely bring my friends/family who would be visiting Dubai for the first time. I'm sure they would be as amazed as I was!
I would also love to go through the menu next time as I didn't really paid much attention to it when we were there. I heard the dishes are named wittingly, or shall I say, sort of pervy? Hahaha!
So why did I not read thru the menu? Well, let's just say me and the husband resorted to other "more entertaining" means of waiting:
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