Update: Smiling BKK has unfortunately gone out of business. My new favorite places for authentic Thai food in Dubai are Sticky Rice and Cafe Isan.
In two weeks, I’m traveling to Thailand, so in order to prepare my taste buds, I had lunch today with Rachel at Smiling BKK. There are two Smiling BKK restaurants in Dubai. One is tucked away behind a gas station somewhere in Jumeirah, but I didn’t even bother start searching for it, as I found out that a new branch had just opened at easy-accessible Al Wasl Square.
It’s been quite a long time since I saw Rachel last time, but I really enjoy her company, and I’m always in a good mood after meeting up with her. Her adorable daughter Aria is almost one year old now, but today Rachel had arranged for someone else to take care of her, so we could spend some girly time together.
Smiling BKK is wild and crazy and 100% kitsch, with moustache Mona Lisa posters overlooking the restaurant. The dishes on the menu have funny names such as Amazing Ladyboy and Daytripping Buddha, but behind it all are solid Thai classics including Tom Yum Kung soup and Som Tam (papaya salad).
At noon the restaurant was rather empty, so we could sit wherever we wanted. We were handed a toy gun, and told to fire it, when we were ready to order. The menu was quite extensive, so it took almost 15 minutes, before we were ready to pull the trigger.
We ordered a Big Smile Sample Set consisting of different kinds of deep fried goodies, a soup and a salad with mussels. When we found out that Smiling BKK had sticky rice served Northeastern Thai style in small baskets, we also ordered two of those.
The food was brought to our table as soon as it was ready, so we ended up having our starter at the end of the meal, but anyone who had eaten at a typical Bangkok restaurant knows that this is how it’s usually done.
Our waiter was (of course?) wearing a black sequin cap. He was originally from Thailand and very friendly. It’s hard taking things too seriously, when a moustache Mona Lisa is watching you from all angles, but the food was actually quite ok and the prices very reasonable. I can only imagine what this place is like in the evening, but hopefully, it will not be too long before I’ll find out.