My heart tends to perform this little skip that’s somewhat ethereal (and quite frankly, not of my personality) whenever anyone mentions Thailand to me. It was the summer of 2011 when I embarked on a month’s long travel at the Kingdom to hone my Muay Thai skills and subsequently fell in love with its people, culture and its cathartic lush green landscape. And the food, glorious food..!
Thai cuisine like the rest of its Asian culinary brethren, comprises of exotic dishes set to tantalize and tease our tastebuds in seven primary classifications (well if we were to combine Eastern and Western taste categories of course); sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami (meaty), spicy and astringent (dry). Every spice and herb used in each dish tells a story, has a benefit, and works in beautiful unison with the rest of the ingredients to enhance its uniqueness and flavor profile. In Kuwait, I have to say, no one does Thai food better than Ubon.
Tucked away in Ali Al Salim Street on the Ground Floor of Aljawhara Tower, Ubon is a contemporary Thai Bistro with both its executive and sous chefs hailing from the Ubon Ratchathani Province of North-Eastern Thailand. In short, it’s the real deal peeps. The eatery specializes in Thai cuisine, with special emphasis on noodles, rice and curries with its ingredients sourced directly from Thailand.
Now from a health and fitness perspective, that last sentence alone screamed carbs, carbs and more carbs. However that is by no means the whole picture, my friend. The menu at Ubon features a myriad of dishes; appetizers, salads, soups, side dishes and sweet treats that are not only healthy, but big enough to share if you’re worried about portion control. Most notable favorites of mine here were:
Green Papaya Salad
Imagine slivers of crisp crunchy papaya mixed in with carrots and spring beans carefully prepared in a sweet and spicy Thai dressing. The salad was light and crispy with just the right amount of salad dressing (I don’t particularly enjoy it when my greens are drowning in dressing or a sauce of any kind, as it then becomes heavy and dredge-like). On a hot summer’s night, this salad is refreshing to chow down on. As green papaya is still a young fruit, this salad is full of essential nutrients. Papaya is known to promote digestive health, help regulate your blood pressure, and is full of antioxidants whilst bursting with vitamins C,E and A. Not only that, papaya is also low in calories. coming in at 39kcals per 100g.
Grilled Beef Salad
Also known as “Nam Tok,” this spicy salad is a simple yet hearty concoction of marinated strips of tenderloin beef tossed alongside a colorful array of peppers, coriander, white onions and fresh basil leaves. Again, I liked this immensely for a dish that’s laden with protein (especially beef), it didn’t seem heavy on the palate. Particularly good source of lean protein (24g in every 85grams), this dish is great to have if you’re watching your figure. If you’re wanting to add muscle or a bit of lean mass, I’d recommend ordering this dish with Ubon’s Pineapple Fried Rice which is authentic as can be and not to mention oh-so-yummy!
Sweet & Sour Duck
In short, a Thai stirfry which offers oodles of veggies and duck in a sweet and sour sauce. As a foodie, cooking with duck meat can sometimes be a tricky experience, as the meat can either be very stringy or fatty (chefs worldwide generally tend to score the skin of the duck breast, cooking them in a pan skin-side down devoid of oil). What I liked about this dish was that it wasn’t oily or heavy. The meat was surprisingly lean, yet fork-tender. You should vary your protein sources and duck is a great option to have as it’s chockfull of vitamins B5, B12, zinc and selenium.
Iced Lemongrass (Drink)
On the beverage front, this iced drink is refreshing to have on a hot summery evening like the night we visited the restaurant. Reminiscent of my Thai travels, this thirst quencher had notes of simple syrup, fresh lime juice and lemongrass extract. Lemongrass is an Asian herb widely used in Asian cuisine (most notably curries). It looks like a hardier version of a spring onion, with a lemony-pungent fragrance, since it is super fibrous, one would need to extract the juice using a masticating juicer. The health benefits of lemongrass knows no boundaries. It’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal, helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics, helps regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, and it’s a great detoxifier, especially for your pancreas. If you’re really trying to eat clean, I would recommend this to be a great alternative to having an actual dessert since this beverage is sweet in nature and thus satisfies your sugar cravings.
Mango & Sticky Rice
Ok, so truth be told, unlike my other dinner guests, I held out on having carbs (except for a lush spoonful or three of Ubon’s signature Pineapple Fried Rice) to try out this pièce de résistance.
At any Thai restaurant, how does one hold out on mango and sticky rice?! I remember walking through the night markets of Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok with a little bowl laden with this number. Mangoes are a staple in Thailand and this dish is of culinary country pride. Better known as the “King of Fruits,” mangoes are full of antioxidant compounds that have been found to protect against certain cancers such as leukemia and prostate, rejuvenates your skin as it helps against acne, and balances out your pH levels as it contains tartaric, citric and malic acid, which is alkalizing.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my Thai culinary experience at Ubon. The laidback lounge-atmosphere coupled with its outdoor seating was unpretentious and intimate while its staff members, exuding charm and being most attentive, definitely reinforced Ubon’s theme of the night; letting its food shine in all its exotic spicy glory.
Ubon Kuwait is located at Al Salhiya, Ali Al Salim Street, Aljawhara Tower on the Ground Floor. Phone: 2226 0848 or for delivery phone 2226 0787. For more information you can email [email protected]or visit their websit www.ubonkw.com.