Smiling BKK is not a very popular Thai restaurant in Dubai as compared to the hundreds that have set a name for themselves in this place. It’s a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant in Dubai with 3 branches and pretty good food at average prices.
When you enter the restaurant, you have to adjust your eyes to the cavernous dimly lit space with not so comfortable seating arrangement. But you can forgive a lot when you like a restaurant, and when I visited, there was a lot to forgive!
We settled down to order, but no one came to attend to us. After a while of waving hands and calling out to draw attention, one of the staff came over with mason jars (for glasses) and placed magazine pages as placemats for all of us. We all looked at each other and wondered whether this is a way of cost cutting or simply their style. 😉
I checked out the menu and was faintish, it was huge! It’s a daunting task to choose from more than 100 dishes in the menu (yeah, I said 100!) And most of the names have been striked-out due to the inappropriateness of the wordings to the Dubai culture. There were also long passages of naughty jokes at the bottom of each page and I got busy reading each one while my sis-in-law gave the orders.
This is what our orders were:
- Amazing Thailand – Tom Yum Soup (Prawns)
- Tom Yum Gai – Soup (the other name was striked-off)
- Day Tripping Buddha – Green Curry (Chicken)
- The Name’s Bond, James Bond – Noodles (Pad Thai) <– I know, the name right??? 😀
- Wax On – Noodles
Not so long after ordering, the soup was carried over, still simmering, in a big Thai hot pot. The gloriously flavoured Tom Yum soup was wildly fragrant with lemongrass, milk and chilli paste infused broth, dialed up a notch by the addition of thin, crunchy slices of fresh galangal (a look-alike of ginger) that offer a tangy, mildly gingery flavour exploding in your mouth, creating a bright accent to this simple soup. We ordered 2 Tom Yum soups – chicken and prawns. The soup came in a big pot and the portion was too big to be finished.
That’s the magazine page placemat I was talking about!
A small ball of sticky rice came in an individual traditional northeastern bamboo container. The rice was perfect and cooked evenly, though the portion was very small and hence had to order three more portions for all four of us.
Next was the Chicken Green Curry – The fragrant broth of coconut milk swimming with veggies, garlic, basil leaves and boneless chicken was a delight to mix with the sticky rice and devour. The ingredients were bold and individual, not hidden away in the curry sauce.
The only let down was the Pad thai (fried noodles with dried shrimp, peanut, tofu and tamarind sauce) which was a deft expression of the classic dish employing punchy flavours where other versions are muted, using the spice to mask the lack of depth in the dish.
The Wax On (stir fried noodles with chicken, vegetables and egg) was an average dish but was finished off quickly due to the fact that the Pad Thai was a disappointment.
The dessert was the highlight of the evening, though it was not one from their menu. I don’t know the name of this dessert, but apparently it being a popular one my sis-in-law asked for it and it was available. It consists of water chestnuts in coconut milk syrup and the combination was incredible. You can bath your tongue in intensely ‘cocunutty’ flavoured syrup with the jasmine fragrance wafting up your nose and it was a fine finish to the meal.
Smiling BKK is true to their Thai roots and provides the customers with fresh, traditional Thai flavours in generous portions. Though the service can occasionally be a little on the slow side, it’s a true Thai food lover’s go-to-place in town.
Until next time, Happy Nibbling You All!!