Thai in your backyard

Authentic Thai food is conveniently located here in Israel, though that's not to say you shouldn't still plan a trip to Thailand.

thai food 88 (photo credit: )
thai food 88
(photo credit: )
With my mom in town for a week's visit I was determined to take her to some great places to eat. The words in short are: mission accomplished. Some of the highlights, which you'll read about on this page in the coming couple months, are: the awesome Yoezer Wine Bar, the steak house NG (one of the few places to predominantly feature Israeli microbrews) and the wonderful pleasure that is Hapizza (kosher). But, for her last day, I wanted a culinary experience that would impress and delight while not overwhelm the day. We were going for lunch you see, and still had to hit up the Nahalat Binyamin craft fair and the Dizengoff Square flea market. That's a lot of walking and Tel Aviv is already heating up. The answer presented itself in the form of the Thai House. First thing to point out, before getting to the food, is the experience of walking in. While the a/c was cranked up a bit too much for our tastes, it does aid in forgetting that you just came off a crowded and busy Tel Aviv main thoroughfare. The walls are lined with bamboo fencing and the back-porch (the smoking section, so we didn't sit there cause of my mom) transports you to a whole other environment completely. It sounds kitsch for sure - and, well, I guess it is (how could it not) - but they pull it off well. A great emphasis is placed on freshness and authenticity. That was more than apparent in our first course of Som Tom (NIS 28). Strips of green papaya are tossed together with cherry tomatoes, yard-long beans, ground peanuts, garlic and squeezed lemon juice. It's traditional Bangkok style (a point to which the menu informs). We also shared one of the dishes of the special pak kana menu. This traditional Thai leafy green is something like collard greens. Unavailable on the local market, they grow it themselves. We enjoyed ours with shrimp, cause my mom doesn't eat calamari, which the dish was meant to be served with. At NIS 72 it's an expensive main dish, but with the expertly steamed rice, it's large and filling. For our main courses we had the gaeng kiao waan (NIS 66/72) - pieces of chicken breast stewed with little green eggplants, lime leaves and basil in a green curry. This dish, meant to be spicy, which the Thai House does exceptionally well, was prepared less spicy, cause my mom doesn't eat spicy. While delicious, it was still too spicy for her. What did we learn here? If you're not into spicy, ask them to make it not spicy. But I love spicy and went to town on the dish. While waiting for dessert, my mom enjoyed a ginger tea, which is like mint (spearmint) tea here, in the sense that fresh cut ginger is put into hot water with a tea bag. My mom was really into this notion, something she's not used to from back home. While sipping, she observed that the waitstaff switched our napkins too often, "talk about wasteful," she said. I suggested that perhaps it was because the napkins weren't so hot. My mom told me I was wrong, "These are not bad napkins. I've had napkins that are terrible, before." She was right. This and the too-cold a/c were really the only complaints we had. My mom is eco-minded. Dessert was a tough choice. I've had all three on offer and they're all outrageous. We settled on the tapioca pearls with crushed ice with melon and mango and pineapple in coconut milk (which they extract fresh from the coconut, as opposed to the can). My mom left later that night, having eaten well and having walked a hell of a lot. I'm proud of her. Hi mom. Thai House - 8 Rehov Bograshov; (03) 517-8568 - is open Sun.-Sat. from noon to midnight; not kosher. Business lunch is available Sun.-Thurs. and includes a first course and drink for the price of the main dish. Dessert is an additional NIS 14. The writer and his mom were guests of the restaurant.