Thai House (Habayit Hatailandi).
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Before we begin, I must admit that Thai food is my favorite ever since I spent two magical weeks in the islands of Thailand. There isn’t any other cuisine so rich with flavors and yet so fresh and light that one never gets tired of eating it.
Considered by many to be the best Thai or Asian restaurant in Israel, Thai House (Habayit Hatailandi) has been keeping up its standards for years and has long lines of hungry diners outside every night just waiting for a table.
What makes it so popular is, of course, the great food but also the informal, easy-going atmosphere.
Walk in, and it looks and feels like an authentic Thai hut in the islands – nothing fancy or exclusive about it.
The patrons are dressed accordingly.
Many of them are youngsters seeking the Asian flavors they long for after returning from the “after-the-army big trip.”
If you think that the rice noodle dish Pad Thai is the pinnacle of Thai cuisine, think again, says the restaurant’s owner and chef Yariv Melili.
“In Thailand, that dish is eaten very rarely, and then it is served in a different way, with all the ingredients served separately so that each diner makes his own mixture,” he explains.
But having said that, he adds that although his restaurant offers so much more than Pad Thai, it remains one of the most popular dishes, and it is very good. But ordering it there is such a waste when there is so much more to enjoy.
We started with an assortment of small appetizers. These included a few musts, such as the papaya salad and yam neua, which is medium-rare roasted beef, thinly sliced, with mint leaves, cucumber spiced in a hot & sour chili fish sauce (slightly hot, but so delicious).
We were then served two dishes we hadn’t asked for but were very grateful to receive. One was a dish of small parcels whose name means “tears of the gods.” We really had a divine moment eating them. The second item was a dish of fresh, tasty calamari.
We also had a cooked herb dish and cold rice noodles, as well as two main dishes, which are not huge here, as the whole meal is more of a tasting meal.
We sampled the tom yam – fresh broth cooked with Thai herbs and roots, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and coriander, with chicken or seafood or tofu; as well as beef in curry pahad prik-geng – sliced beef with Thai eggplant, Thai basil leaves and curry. It was a hot dish, which we loved.
All dishes are served with sticky rice on the side. The rice is there to soak up the wonderful sauces and turn down the heat between mouthfuls.
Thai House serve lovely cocktails, which go well with the spicy food. We had one each, and then a glass of Tulip white wine, which is fruity enough to match that kind of food perfectly.
We were too full for any rich desserts but had to try the house icicles, made with coconut and fruit.
They were the perfect ending to a sumptuous summer meal.
The service was very friendly and accommodating, the staff very knowledgeable, helpful and informal, and the whole meal was relaxing and very enjoyable. And the prices are very reasonable: NIS 30-40 for starters and NIS 50-70 for main dishes.
When we left the restaurant after our long and leisurely meal, there was still a line of people eagerly waiting to get into the place.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
The Thai House (Habayit Hatailandi)
8 Bograshov St., Tel Aviv