Green Spices – the new Thai in town

Green Spices - Sofitel Downtown DubaiAs I drove with a friend through a bustling Sheikh Zayed highway on a Wednesday evening towards a new Thai in town – Green Spices at the recently opened Sofitel Dubai Downtown – I had high expectations given Dubai’s prolific, and in some cases, solid Thai restaurant scene.

On arrival, we were greeted by a friendly hostess who, after confirming our reservation, asked if we preferred to be seated at one of two large circular bars surrounding live cooking stations, or at a regular table. The former looked a little lonely, with more diners occupying the tables, so we opted for one by the window with a view of the forever-busy Sheikh Z. There’s also a big lounge area with green leather sofas, and a scattering of Buddha statues. The décor is simple, modern and sleek with no bells or whistles, only smooth jazz music playing in the background. Statues aside, the only indication of dining in a Thai restaurant are mountains of coconut milk cans and oyster sauce bottles decorating the bars.

The menu is generous. Yet the wide selection of appetisers, soups, curries and mains, ranked from mild to very spicy, generated a sense of deja-vu. The Thai rolls section, however, was interesting and new. Our waitress first brought a bowl of prawn crackers with a side of sweet chilli sauce, but they were bland and a little stale.

Prawn RollsMinced Chicken Salad

Our first appetiser dish of prawn rolls consisted of four servings of slightly fried prawns dotted with flecks of coconut, ginger, and peanuts – each rolled in a betel leaf. Bright and fresh flavours of lime, chilli, and ginger burst in my mouth with every bite. The betel leaf was soft enough to bite into and not at all chewy. Little gems of deliciousness. Our minced chicken salad arrived next – deconstructed – with a generous serving of minced chicken tossed with raw red onions, roasted rice and coriander in a lime dressing. Cabbage leaves, mint, cucumbers and green beans rested on the side, waiting to be rolled. While the chicken mince was exquisite on its own, its flavours were further elevated when paired with the other fresh ingredients.

Stir Fried BeefGreen Chicken Curry

For mains our stir-fried beef was served first – slivers of beef stir-fried with green and red bell peppers, and spring onions. The vegetables were cooked to perfection – not at all soggy and with the right amount of crunch. The beef was tender and full of flavour. Then came the green curry, with a wonderfully fragrant aroma. Thin strips of chicken, bamboo shoots, Thai eggplant and peas sat in a delicious coconut milk sauce. The sauce held firmly without being heavy, and the vegetables were very tasty. While the chicken was succulent, I would have preferred larger chunks of poultry.

Fried BananasWater Chestnut Soup

With only four desserts on the menu including a fruit platter, I would have liked to have seen a wider variety, not just to appease my sweet tooth, but in the interest of giving diners more choice. The fried bananas arrived drizzled with a warm chocolate sauce and accompanied by a (small) scoop of coconut ice cream. Despite being deep-fried, the batter was airy and not oily. The dessert was on point – warm, light, sweet but not overly sickly, and refreshing once paired with the ice cream. Our second choice was a little more unusual – a water chestnut soup with tiny red chestnuts swimming alongside pieces of jackfruit and crushed ice in a cold coconut-based soup. With every spoonful, the chestnuts exploded in my mouth and the jackfruit brought a little zing that was balanced by the sweetness of the coconut milk – a perfect sweet ending.

Throughout our meal, the service was impeccable – friendly, and knowledgeable when questioned on the menu. Our food was served quickly and the staff quietly and efficiently worked their way through the busy tables, never leaving us unattended. For a restaurant only recently open, they proved to be well-trained and attentive, without being overbearing.

Our Entertainer two-for-one voucher reduced the bill from AED215 to AED173 per person, without alcohol – either way very reasonably priced for a top-end licensed restaurant. While Green Spices lacks the majestic (and expensive) decor of neighbour Tong Thai at the JW Marriott Marquis, its interior is still inviting, with a subdued and heart-warming atmosphere. The food (minus the stale crackers) is delicious, albeit traditional, and the service excellent. Green Spices is a robust newcomer on Dubai’s competitive Thai dining scene, and for that I am giving it a 3.5 FooDiva knife rating.

Tell me, which is your favourite Thai restaurant in town – licensed, or cheap and cheerful?

Until next time,

SJ.

Who is FooDiva’s new guest reviewer? By day, SJ is a professor of Political Science. By night, she enjoys cooking and sharing her recipes on Instagram here.

FooDiva Rating: Knife Rating: 3.5
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10 Responses to “Green Spices – the new Thai in town”

  1. The Man in the White Hat October 2, 2014 at 11:17 am

    The best Thai food I’ve had in Dubai has consistently come from cheap and cheerful Ban Khun Mae in the superficially unpromising surrounds of the Mall of the Emirates food court above the entrance to Ski Dubai. What it lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up with the authenticity of the food; they don’t dumb down the chili heat for western palates, and there always seems to be a small queue of Thai women ordering (usually an encouraging sign). And they do deliver if the food court is unappealing.

    Royal Budha [sic] at the Al Barsha Holiday Inn is also decent as a reasonably priced licensed option.

    The _worst_ Thai food I’ve had in Dubai hands down came from the Little Bangkok chain: insipid, lacking chili heat, the ‘crisp’ duck skin limp and unpleasant, and for all the claims that they make their own spice pastes and make most (I note the conditional) dishes from scratch in their kitchen, the state of my salad and the speed with which the food arrived both strongly suggested they don’t necessarily make those dishes to order.

    • SJ October 5, 2014 at 11:39 am

      I try to stay away from food courts because I never found a place that serves authentic good food but I’ll definitely try Ban Khun Mae! It could be the best option for a quick Thai fix! Thanks for the recommendation!

      • The Man in the White Hat October 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        Usually I’d avoid food courts for the same reason – but Ban Khun Mae seems to get it consistently right. I try to remind myself that there are plenty of really good roadside food stalls in Bangkok with smaller kitchens; it helps me get past ordering in an otherwise fairly unpleasant food court.

    • GA October 20, 2014 at 10:33 am

      I agree with you about Ban Khun Mae, we love it. I also didn’t rate Little Bangkok one bit thought the food was bland. Royal Budha was really good but I felt over priced when we dined there. Its in a Holiday Inn for gods sake! lol my current favourite though which takes some beating is Fuchsia in TECOM, unlicensed and well priced, and I just thought of another good one in TECOM, Rauchi, licensed and they do a superb lunch time special menu for 59 AED.

  2. Nan October 3, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I was there yesterday. Food was fantastic!! The live cooking station was cool. I had evening brunch with them and the choice were amazing because they combinded their neighbor steak as well. Staffs were great presented and fanatic hospitality we had last night. .. Thai tea was spectacular !!

    • SJ October 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the experience! Even though we had the option to do so, we didn’t want to order from neighboring Red Grill because we had to evaluate how Green Spice fares on its own. We loved the food and the service too!

  3. Alisha Taylor January 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Hey GA & Man in the White Hat. Yes Royal Budha Thai restaurant http://www.theroyalbudha.com is outstanding, very nice food and service was excellent. It was my first time when I visited at Holiday Inn Dubai – Al Barsha. Good Experience for me, I would say.

    • SJ February 2, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Ok, now I have to get to the Royal Budha! And fast! 🙂 So many places to try, so little time! Thank you for the comment!

      • Fretz May 23, 2015 at 5:15 am

        SJ must try.. they are serving Isan Thai style too. very authentic. I’d try most of the thai restaurant here in Dubai but the royal budha is the best as always. never put me down.

    • Fretz May 23, 2015 at 5:11 am

      Yess!! agree with you Alisha Taylor. The Royal Budha is one of the best thai restaurant here in Dubai.. excellent authentic Thai food..

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