A dish at Chang Ba restaurant in Haifa.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are two things that most young Israelis love – eating good food and traveling through Thailand, so I have always been surprised at the lack of authentic Thai food in Israel.
Luckily for those living in Haifa, Chang Ba is the real deal, no doubt thanks to its Thai sous-chef, Dam.
Chef Idan Lifshitz serves his favorite Thai street food and even grows some of his own herbs to make the dishes as authentic as possible. The restaurant was originally situated in a smaller location but moved last year to Hanamal Street in the popular downtown Haifa port area.
The menu is extensive, with a wide range of starters, noodles, soups and curries, and most dishes can be ordered with a choice of tofu, chicken, beef, fish or shrimp.
We started with the traditional som tam – green papaya salad served with sticky rice (NIS 36). The salad had just the right amount of heat and flavor, but I found the rice too sweet for a savory dish but was happy to eat the salad alone.
The pik gai thot chicken wings (NIS 34) were crispy without being too greasy and were served with a standard sweet chili sauce.
My companion also enjoyed the yam wun sen jung (NIS 39), as the shrimps were nicely cooked and came with a lot of fresh basil and herbs. The tuna tataki (NIS 52) special was well seasoned – fresh fish with a good kick. But overall, the green papaya and the chicken wings were our favorite starters.
This was my second visit to Chang Ba, and I had been dreaming about ordering the pla thot, which is a deep-fried whole sea bass served with a Thai dipping sauce (NIS 94). The fish itself was full of flavor, and the thin batter gave the skin a wonderful crunch.
The dipping sauce added an extra layer of flavor with fresh coriander, mint and chili. The dish was beautifully presented and was just as good as I remembered it.
While I was devouring the fish, my companion worked through the kaeng matsaman beef curry with steamed rice (NIS 72), which was very good, and the phot si io chicken with rice noodles (NIS 62), which had a good flavor, though the chicken was a little bland.
We also tried the phat phak kai-o – stir-fried broccoli, asparagus and pak choi – (NIS 42), which was a nice fresh addition to the meal.
A fragrant Thai gin cocktail (NIS 36) was the ideal accompaniment to my meal, while my companion enjoyed a bottle of Singa beer (NIS 22).
There was only one option for dessert, but we liked it so much that we asked for two: tapioca coconut cream topped with fresh melon, mango and grapes (NIS 22). Although the flavor was indulgent, it was light and refreshing and the perfect end to a delicious authentic Thai meal.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Chang Ba Not Kosher 23 Hanamal St., Haifa Tel: (04) 672-2891 Sunday – Friday, noon to 11 p.m.