I think that Riyadh prides itself on the presence of a lot of Thai restaurants in its midst. There are quite a handful in the city and us Riyadhizens know where to go when craving for some mean tom yum soup, pad thai, and hor muk. Because most of our Thai food favorites are considered street food in the Asian country, the restaurants here also embody that feel. While Thai food hits all the right notes in our palates: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, we still need better ambiance and decor when it comes to places to eat here in the city.
That’s what Baan Thai has came to fill: a place to enjoy Thai comfort food in an ambiance worthy of gatherings and special occasions. Their motto speaks for itself: good food, good place, good price. Baan Thai, which means “House of Thai” is a restaurant by the owners of the defunct Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Oruba Street. They basically improved the concept and made everything better than the old restaurant. They have a menu packed with beloved Thai dishes and thrown in some popular Filipino viands too. Their restaurant opens up to wooden fixtures and furniture with booths covered with curtains decorated with vases of faux orchids and grass. It feels like being in a corner of Bangkok. We’re excited for the food!
We started our meal with their unique beverages: the Pleon Chit (SR 21) and the Tom Yum Cooler (SR 18). The first is a mixture of lychee juice, chili, and lime. We were afraid to cut the huge red chili that adorned the glass. Maybe that’s why we didn’t taste a hint of spiciness in this drink. The lychee shone though. It was flavorful without being too sweet. The Tom Yum Cooler worried us a bit. Though I like the tom yum as a soup, I’m not sure I’d like to drink it cold. Lol. The drink is made up of iced lemongrass juice with lemon and a hint of lime leaf. The lemongrass overpowered everything in this drink and if you like its taste, then go ahead. I had to pass these drinks and went with my usual regular cola afterwards.
For salad, we went with Som Tam (with prawns SR 32, vegetarian SR 27), otherwise known as the green papaya salad. It came in a generous portion that’s meant to be shared (good for 2, I might say). It was generally okay with the papaya crisp and crunchy. I just wish a for a little bit of sweetness. Otherwise, this one is just salty all the way. We also had the Yum Woon Sen (seafood SR 37, vegetarian SR 27) salad as part of the platter of appetizer we had. This is a glass noodle salad with prawns, squid, and vegetables in a spicy Thai dressing. It’s a bit weird eating noodles this way but Kim, our intern, enjoyed this. Her family makes this at home and she said this is as good as what they make. I’m not a fan of warm noodles on a salad so this is a pass for me.
Their Tom Yum Soup (from SR 27) is a winner in my books! It’s light, balanced and satisfying. It has the right amount of sourness, sweetness, saltiness, and spiciness! I love how Kim and I were both coughing on our first sip because we got hit by the wonderful aroma and flavor at the same time! Haha. It’s such a good entrance to our Thai meal. The Tom Kha (from SR 27), on the other hand, is a spicy and sour coconut soup with mushroom and galangal (aka ginger). It’s mild and creamy in taste. I still like the Tom Yum better but if you’re looking for a different soup, then go for this one.
We had the chance to sample their appetizers with the Baan Thai Mixed Platter 2 (SR 63). It has vegetable spring rolls, sun-dried beef, and prawn cakes served with a salad and a sweet chili sauce. Let me break down the components of this platter to you simply: the prawn cakes is the greatest, the spring rolls are so-so and the sun-dried beef is not worth it. So next time, I suggest you just buy the plate of Tod Man Goong (Prawn Cakes, SR 37) on its own because every bite of this fried cake is bursting with flavor. Delicious! The Poh Pia Tod (prawns SR 27, vegetarian SR 21) is nothing extraordinary; maybe because I’m so used to eating our Filipino lumpia. The Nuea Dad Diew (fried beef, SR 37) was hard and a threat to your teeth. Avoid. I’m interested to try the Prawn Toast and Giaw Tord (shrimp wonton) next time!
Now let’s go to the main courses! The Panang (from SR 30) is highly-recommended by the restaurant owner. It’s Thai’s very own curry dish and we et to choose prawns, beef, or chicken as the main ingredient. We chose chicken. The Thai Panang is actually a complex dish. It’s not just curry; it has notes of flavors from Malaysia, Burma, and India. The curry is exquisite and known for its saltiness, thickness and sweetness. The Panang of Baan Thai is a bit lighter than I imagined it to be. However, it’s Thai curry and I’m assuming this is the authentic one. It has mild flavors of peanuts and kaffir lime leaves. Best eaten with plain rice. Actually, most Thai dishes are probably best eaten with plain rice because of the viands’ myriad, vibrant flavors that should not be overwhelmed by flavored rice. We did not heed that advice and went with Khao Phad Baan Thai (SR 37) which is a fried rice steeped in ginger, lemongrass and fried garlic. It’s topped with fried chicken. On its own, this is a great, flavorful dish already. Paired with the curries, this overpowers the curry flavor. It’s good for 2 persons who are not that hungry.
What’s a Thai feast without the famous Pia Sam Lee Yum Mamuang (SR 48). Doesn’t sound familiar? Okay, okay. It’s Butter Fish! Haha! Baan Thai’s bitter fish is huge and can feed up to 3 persons, or more if you have other dishes in your table. It comes with a mango salad that’s more salty than any other taste. I wanted a dash of sweetness and spiciness in the salad to make it more tart and pair best with the fried fish. I like that the fish retained its crispiness. It has a light batter that’s easy to bite on. Of course, let’s not forget the Pad Thai (from SR 30), rice noodles stir-fried in tamarind sauce and garnished with bean sprouts and roasted peanuts. Their version of this noodle dish has a heavy peanut flavor. It almost feels like peanut butter was spread tenderly on each strand of noodle. Haha. It has such rich flavor of nuts that I find the flavor not as well-balanced. It needed a kick of fish sauce, which is easily available in the condiment rack in the table. That’s an advantage in this restaurant: you have the sauces right beside you that it’s easy to temper the flavors of any dish to your liking. Kim loved their chili flakes in oil.
We rounded up our dinner with one Filipino dish: the Sisig. Bow. Their sisig was served in a sizzling plate complete with raw egg that needed to be mixed so it coats the meat and cooks. They used the innards of meat in this one and it shows in the look and texture: it’s part crunchy, chewy, soft and hard. It did not wow me when it comes to taste but that’s because I know my preference in sisig and I’m hard to impress when it comes to this dish. We heard their kare-kare is also good. Will try that next time!
For dessert, we tried Gluay Tod (SR 27), butter-fried banana served with vanilla ice cream, and Halo-Halo. Unfortunately, their Khao Neaw Mamuang aka ripe Thai mango and steamed sweet sticky rice with coconut milk was not available. I enjoyed the banana dessert more than the halo-halo which was hard to eat because the glass was small and the ice was rock solid. The batter of the banana was crisp and the fruit inside warm. It went well with the ice cream.
Overall, Baan Thai is the Thai restaurant you will go to when you want to impress your guests in terms of ambiance and conduciveness for eating. Their dishes have hits and misses but they’re customizable according to your preference with a dash of their condiments. And if you’re a vegetarian, you have found a gem in this place. Baan Thai also caters to events and occasions. They have long tables for special events. They’re actually a good venue for an intimate gathering after civil weddings in the embassy since they’re so near the Diplomatic Quarter. Also, they have a discount of 5% for health practitioners per transaction. Just show you ID! Baan Thai is a good value for your money.
4446 Al Urubah Rd, Ar Raid,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM / 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM