Celebrate Songkran at one of our favourite Thai restaurants
Time Out Dubai staff
Benjarong: The preponderance of wood, quiet live Thai music and slightly old-fashioned finishings lends this Dusit Thani restaurant a traditional, homely feel. Most nights the place is busy with businessmen dining alone or together, as well as the odd married couple. The service is superb: waitresses are friendly and efficient but not overbearing, and laidback enough to give good advice and have a giggle. And the food? The unique rice cracker and minced chicken with peanut sauce makes for a light but tasty appetiser, while a spicy prawn soup is loaded with flavour and gigantic tiger prawns. For the mains, the spice in the red duck curry with pineapple, grape and tomato will gradually crept up on you, while the Massanan chicken curry bears a hint of zing, and is not as thick and heavy as the same dish in lesser eateries.
Call 04 343 3333 for more information.
Blue Rain: Blue Rain is perhaps the most austere Thai restaurant you’ll find in Dubai – its layout is almost corridor-like, with high ceilings, whitewashed walls and black marble flooring. It can almost felt strange eating cuisine of such colourful content in such a minimalist setting. The venue’s lack of clutter is compensated for by the staff, who ply guests with welcome drinks, finger food and recommendations. The som tam – a green papaya salad with crispy catfish, and a tom yam soup – is a sufficiently spicy starter. For mains, the phad kaprao (stir-fried seafood) will entertain with succulent morsels of seafood at every bite and the wagyu panang nua (beef curry) is worth a go. You’ll have a satisfactory meal at a sleek venue of you try Blue Rain.
Call 04 372 2222 for more information.
Lemongrass: ‘The one by the Lamcy carpark’ is how Lemongrass in rather unfortunately known. But it’s also ‘the one that’s always packed’. Despite its popularity, however, we always seem to get a table when we pop over. Inside, after a recent renovation, you'll find an even lighter and airier café-style laidback restaurant, featuring yellow buddhas, orange wood and framed black and white Thai-inspired photographs. The food is good overall, and the penang curry, in particular, is rich, creamy and spicy, while the sweet and sour prawns include apple, pineapple and pepper in the sweet mix. Many south-east Asian diners eat here, alongside Westerners, and all to the sound of soft music and relaxed conversation – great for a quiet but memorable end to a night.
Call 04 334 2325 for more information.
Mango Tree: Ideally situated in Souk al Bahar and boasting a terrace with better-than-your-average views of Dubai Fountain, Mango Tree is a great place to take a date or visitors you’re hoping to impress on a reasonable budget. Service is friendly and helpful from the moment you walk past the wood-clad reception area. Inside, the restaurant’s decor is impressive and Thai-inspired, with high ceilings, geometric-shaped lighting, a burgundy colour scheme and Thai flowers delicately bobbing in glasses filled with water on every table. The space is almost split in two, with one main room facing the Burj Khalifa and fountain extravaganza, and massive private room/cellar housing 1,000 bottles of grape allocated within. Oh – and we mustn’t forget the large Buddha statue as the centrepiece. The menu is lengthy with a wealth of Thai dishes: so much so that it can become a little overwhelming (especially when hunger has given way to impatience), making it easiest to plump for the extremely reasonably Friday brunch, priced at Dhs125 each, with water and soft drinks.
Call 04 426 7313 for more information.
Pai Thai: First things first: make sure you take the abra option to get to this Al Qasr restaurant – you’ll impress not only your company, but yourself with the peaceful waters of the vast Madinat Jumeirah canals, and the twinkly lights of the resort and eatery on your approach. Also, try to go when it’s warm enough to eat outside. While the wood-heavy interior is pleasant, the separate rooms can leave it feeling quite empty, and the terrace is small enough to appear packed and atmospheric very easily. The traditional dancing and music helps in the ambience department too – a fully-costumed Thai performer will suddenly appear at the end of your table performing an ode to you and your dining companions at any moment. Indeed, at Pai Thai the setting and service come first, and the food a very close second. The curries, noodles and other traditional Thai treats are heavy, rich, satisfying.
Call 04 366 6730 for more information.
Royal Buddha: Don’t be put off by the fact this restaurant is in Al Barsha and in the Holiday Inn, which despite its international reputation for being a bit budget is actually fielding some decent mid-range eateries in Dubai. The decor is comfortingly dim with dark wood and although there were two large parties of ten already seated when we last visited, noise levels were at a minimum. An interesting menu combines Thai staples with more unusual fish dishes – a starter of prawns in rice paper are as light as a feather and incredibly fresh, whilst the spicy lemongrass and chicken soup has a healthy, but not overloaded kick. If you’re on a date, the tables are a little on the large side to have an intimate meal but the restaurant doesn’t seem to mind a little rearrangement of chairs. The main courses are large enough to share, although the reasonable cost means you don’t need to. Both fish and meat options come with plenty of fresh vegetables loaded on to the dish and you’re well out of range of the gloopy, MSG-laden sauces you’d find at many budget Asian restaurants.
Call 04 323 4333 for more information.
Spice Emporium: The Spice Emporium is a very classy way to approach Thai food. The decor alone is very impressive, all big statues, with paper lanterns and other Far Eastern trinkets adorning the inside, scattered around the large open kitchen. The staff press their hands together and bow their heads to greet you, and then it’s off to the table to peruse the menu. Inside or outside seating is available – outside has the sea views, sure, but inside you can watch the dancing girl on the stage or listen to Oriental music. Whichever you choose, the food will transport you straight to Thailand on its own merit anyway. The menu is varied, with all the staples you would expect, and a few surprises thrown in. The beef satay sticks are supplied with one of the best peanut side sauces we’ve ever tasted, and the green curry here is likewise excellent without being over spicy.
Call 04 399 4141 for more information.
Sukhothai: Situated in the Le Meridien Airport’s tasting platter of eateries, Sukhothai never fails to surprise and impress, perhaps due to its proximity to the rather spit and sawdust Dubliner's pub. Enter and you couldn’t be further from the Irish drinking hole: you’re met with a wood-heavy interior, pleasant staff and surprisingly good food. We recommend going for one of the four set menus, such as the extremely well-priced lunch deal, which allows you to taste a raft of the seafood, vegetarian and meat dishes in small, Asian tapas-style portions. Stand out courses included the Thai green curry and sticky mango pudding, as well as the lemon and mint drinks. However don’t expect this to be a quick meal should you opt for the aforementioned set menus – you can expect to park up for around three hours.
Call 04 217 0000 for more information.
Thai Kitchen: You could be forgiven you’re in the south of France, supping drinks by the Med with the European jet-set at the Park Hyatt’s Thai Kitchen. The restaurant’s large alfresco terrace makes use of the hotel’s impressive river frontage and the combination of white and blue architecture and overhanging plants makes for one of Dubai’s most beautiful locations. Thai Kitchen’s food is as impressive as the view with a range of classic Thai dishes and some more interesting concoctions (coconut and sweetcorn ice cream for instance). Its Thai red curry with duck is rich and heavy, just the way it should be, whilst the restaurant’s version of prawn toast is devilishly wicked, a world away from the processed stuff you’d find from a takeaway. There are three live kitchens if you want to watch the oodles of noodles being prepared, and one just for the puddings, although we can heartily recommend the slightly bizarre ice cream mentioned above.
Call 04 602 1234 for more information.
Thiptara: The entrance to Thiptara is reminiscent of a Thai spa, and hence creates an instant calm. The restaurant is huge in size and seems never-ending, and you must reserve a table on the terrace outside, otherwise your experience will be completely different. The downtown views here are spectacular, with the Burj Khalifa and Dubai fountain clearly visible, accented by the fire torches lined around the edge of the platform. The food and sleek service won't disappoint at this classy venue, with the large menu encompassing all the usual Thai classics. The highlight is the duck curry with lychees. The creamy gravy balances nicely with the sweetness of the fruit. The prawn dim sum starter is also incredibly delicate and fresh.
Call 04 428 7961 for more information.
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Shant Bugoz Apr 13, 2011 06:43 am
Went to Mango Tree Last Night
Total Disappointment with the service starting from the manager to the rest of the staff excluding the bar tender!!, main courses were poor with its taste and to add that it was costly. I wonder how they got a reward in 2010 by Time Out !!!!
WILL NOT RECOMEND IT ALL AND NOT GOING THERE AGAIN.
ALOT OF CHANGES REQUIRES TO TAKE PLACE.
anjali Apr 12, 2011 08:17 am
Excellent description of Thiptara . It should have featured much before Lemongrass and Royal thai and also mention the location please...Palace Hotel.