Bangkok's Soi Arabia
Tired of Thai food? Then dive into this slice of the Middle East in the heart of Bangkok, Sukhumvit Road. By PAUL EHRLICH
This 25-year-old establishment’s dependable Egyptian food and friendly, efficient staff have earned it the ardent loyalty of visitors and residents alike. For the mains, try the barbecued lamb chops, tender leg of lamb, the grilled pigeon stuffed with rice, and any of the grilled fish and the shish kebab combos. The best accompaniments are the refreshing yoghurt cucumber salad and the light-whipped hummus served with lashings of olive oil.
6/8 Soi 3/1, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2251 3666
Exuding atmosphere, this spot really does transport its clientele straight to Cairo. Regulars pack the tables outside, watching Arabic-language movies that are always playing on the giant flat- screen TV. Inside, the dining room is filled with embroidered tablecloths, a mosaic fountain, hanging lamps and chandeliers—all imported from Egypt. First-timers to Arab cuisine should start with the appetizer platter of Middle Eastern comfort food: hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, tabouleh and feta cheese. Also try the fresh chopped Lebanese salad, the well-seasoned minced beef or chicken, the grilled lamb chops, and the rice with eggplant and soft chunks of lamb. After dinner try a cup of strong Turkish coffee and enjoy the street life.
4/8 Soi 3/1, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2655 3043
Ignore the unappealing hamburgers and submarine sandwiches sitting in the glass case in the front (“For some tourists,” admits owner Mohmaad Talukeer). This relative newcomer specializes in authentic, delicious Lebanese, Yemeni and Egyptian dishes. The tabouleh and thick, creamy hummus (our favorite) are a must. Follow those dishes up with the restaurant’s speciality, mandi, a Yemeni lamb dish that’s presented on a bed of fluffy basmati rice, covered with nuts and served with a thick stock and lamb’s liver. The fiercely guarded recipe involves secret spices, and the preparation is so time-consuming (four hours, to be exact) that it’s made early in the morning. We also enjoyed the whole grilled chicken and the chicken and lamb kebabs served with garlicky mustard that adds a delicious bite.
75/8 Soi 3/1, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2252 7960
+ AL-IRAQI RESTAURANT
The only restaurant serving Iraqi cuisine in the neighborhood, this unassuming 20-year-old spot, patronized by visiting Iraqis and Iranians, is often unjustly overlooked. Among the best dishes are the grilled fish, the spicy leg of lamb, and the ladyfingers and eggplant served in a traditional broth. It’s also worth sampling the kabsa, a Persian Gulf staple comprised of slow-cooked or barbecued mutton, chicken or pigeon that’s blanketed in a variety of spices, nuts and onions.
8/17–18 Soi 3/1, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2655 5357