Dining Out at “The Thai Kebab”

My friend, Carol, who lived in Bahrain for many years, first introduced me to home made Middle Eastern food. Not that I didn’t already enjoy commercial hummus and pita bread, but baba ghanoush – that delectable, spicy eggplant puree - and crunchy falafel were new delicacies to be savored. Last week I savored them again in a new restaurant, The Thai Kebab, and I can say without hesitation that the falafel is the best I’ve ever eaten. My companion agreed as she nabbed the last one from the plate with a semi-apologetic smile. “You snooze, you lose”, she murmured under her breath. These falafel are crunchy on the outside but soft and delicious on the inside. Served on pita bread or with yogurt or tahini-based sauces, they’re a great snack or even main dish.

But let me start again before I’m so carried away with this delightful food that I forget to tell you where to find it. Dr. Jacob Baroni grew up in Israel, and had three dreams: first he wanted to be a machine engineer, and he did that. Then he wanted to become a dentist, and he did that, too. And finally he wanted to open a restaurant, and although nobody in his family had ever been a restaurateur, he has finally done that, too. Interestingly, he has combined his knowledge as a machine engineer with his skill in operating intricate dental equipment, and has not only designed but also personally built his own gleaming stainless steel rotating spits and ventilation system. It’s a treat to see the system in operation. It’s thoroughly modern and very clean. The kebab meat is cooked slowly on the vertical rotating spits, and the resulting meat is tender and juicy.

In Dr. Baroni’s travels he noticed how popular kebab restaurants, sometimes no more than mere roadside stands, had become worldwide. It’s healthy fast food, full of fresh vegetables and tasty vegetable and yogurt-based sauces. He decided to offer a limited menu in his first restaurant, and this is where his mom came in. He worked with her and observed her cooking. He measured and copied until he had it right. Just a few months ago, he opened The Thai Kebab, and her recipes shine on Changklan Road. There is a very limited menu. Presently only chicken kebab is served, but there are plans to expand with lamb. The chicken kebab on rice is priced at only 25 baht. The restaurant offers a free buffet of salad items, homemade pickles and Middle Eastern sauces. So take your chic-ken kebab on rice and dress it up, and feel free to go back as needed. We tried the kebab in pita bread, added our own salad items and sauces, and completely enjoyed it. This dish is priced at 55 baht or 70 baht for a plate that includes French fries. The falafel arrived, and we refilled our sauces. This crunchy favorite is priced at 45 baht or 50 baht for the plate. We understand why it’s often referred to as “Israel’s national snack.” A dish of hummus plus one piece of pita bread is priced at 65 baht, or the pita alone is 15 baht per piece. We really enjoyed the minced and spiced chicken burger, which is priced at 65 baht.

The Thai Kebab serves one decidedly non-kebab item, wiener schnitzel. This thinly sliced and pounded round of veal is dipped into flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, then fried lightly and served with potatoes. The trick is not to overcook it so that it’s dry. This was crunchy on the outside and tender inside, and priced at 70 baht. With its falafel, hummus, salad and pita, vegetarians can find plenty to eat at this little restaurant. Stop by and enjoy kebab, meet Dr. Baroni and tell him what you like. The Dining Out team thinks you’ll enjoy it.

The Thai Kebab, 211/10 Changklan Road, Chiang Mai, immediately across from Central Memorial Hospital and the Changklan Post Office branch. Open daily except for Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Telephone 053-820-234, 09-430-5883. Eat in or take away. Parking on the street. Look for the big blue sign announcing “TKK”.