In England we love our curry, and being English I’m no exception. Whether it’s Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan or Nepalese, if it’s called curry I’ll eat it! So I was more than pleased when I landed in Kuwait and discovered there’s much love for chicken curry and biryani. But what I have been missing is the sweet hint of coconut in the traffic light colors of Thai cuisine – the red, green and yellow curries.
I wouldn’t really say I snatched the assignment to try out this new Thai restaurant but let’s just say nobody else really got a look in. Much to the dismay of our photographer, but to my delight, she’d forgotten about the assignment and eaten lunch before we set off – all the more for me!
ubon is a local concept started by four friends. They employ a Thai chef who created an authentic menu that apparently features more than a couple of secret recipes that I’m certain not even the owners could squeeze out of him.
The subtle entrance is an unassuming black door flanked by floor to ceiling windows. The name ubon, in gold, above the door only nods to what’s inside. When you take a closer look at the door (I only noticed upon exiting as I was in a rush to get in) you’ll notice it’s constructed of blackened, burnt wood which continues, covering the walls inside. I later am told that this is shou-sugi-ban, or burnt sugi boards, which is a traditional Japanese technique of treating wood to cover house exteriors. The sugi boards are contrasted by the raw concrete in the form of a pillar and window casings resulting in a traditional-meets-modern look. The décor inside follows this theme; the classic combination of black, with hints of gold, suggests a minimalist approach with a hint of luxury.
For appetizers we tried the Ubon Jumbo Prawns which were not only plump and tasty, but topped with air-dried garlic which adds a great depth of flavor. We opted for the Chicken Satay Sticks over the beef ones which are both offered on the menu. Ubon’s Peanut Sauce, which accompanies the satay, perfectly complements the chicken.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, ubon has a variety of salads on offer. The Green Papaya Salad is as refreshing as it is crunchy with a hint of chili heat that everyone should be able to enjoy, even those who don’t like their food too spicy.
The Chicken Green Curry has always been my default choice when it comes to Thai food and so I wanted to put ubon’s up to the test. It measured up no problems – the perfect balance of creamy without being too heavy, fragrant, and packing a nice chili punch. For the non-heat-seekers you may ask for it a little milder as bazaar’s poor photographer realized too late with eyes watering. I found it to be perfectly balanced and just spicy enough however, so it all depends on your preference. We tried the Jasmine Steamed Rice with the curry and it’s light, fluffy and the perfect accompaniment to Thai curries. We also ordered the Vegetable Fried Rice which is a tasty enough side order in its own right (I’d suggest the plain rice with the curries) but was also the perfect partner to the Stir Fried Pepper Beef Garlic though. This tenderloin beef comes with mixed vegetables and oyster sesame sauce, which is very tasty, and some more air-dried garlic, which you’ll leave wanting more of!
It wouldn’t be Thai food without noodles though, would it? I’ve always been a fan of Pad Thai but decided as I’d gone the usual route with my curry, I’d be a little more adventurous with my noodles. Pink Curry Noodles seemed like the perfect dish for such abandon. All of the curries and noodles come as vegetarian options and so I took this dish sans prawns. The rice noodles go perfectly with the (not so) spicy pink curry sauce and was extremely enjoyable.
When you think of Thai food, desserts aren’t something that immediately spring to mind. Going the traditional route I decided to try the Sticky Rice and Mango. I’ve always been a fan of rice pudding and this is a very similar affair. The fresh mango adds the sweetness and flavor to the dessert. Mindful of the market though, they will be offering a few more none traditional desserts soon to cater for everyone’s tastes.
They offer a valet parking service in the evenings and they have a great, social media integrated, website to keep you up to date with all that’s going on. They do not accept reservations, preferring to leave the chance to dine here open to everybody. Currently they are only open in the evening but will be offering a dedicated lunch menu soon.
If you’ve been on the lookout for decent, authentic Thai food ubon will certainly impress. If you haven’t tried Thai food before then this place will be a great introduction – great food in great surroundings!
Ubon is located in Kuwait City. See ubonkw.com for a detailed map and more information. Alternatively you can call 2226 0848.