Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shawarma on Soi 3.

Somewhat peculiarly, one of my favorite Bangkok street foods isn't Thai, or even South-east Asian. The small alley off Sukhumvit known as 'Little Arabia' is distinctive for its abundance of Middle Eastern restaurants and businesses. Walking down the tightly packed alley, among the calls of touts and the sweet scent of hookah smoke, I feel more like I'm in Syria than in Bangkok. This atmosphere spills out of the crowded alley into the surrounding area, and along neighboring Soi 3 are scattered a number of Middle Eastern restaurants.

Down Soi 3, across the street from the Grace Hotel, a small Lebanese shawarma seller stands squeezed between the Bamboo Bar and a take-way pizza window. There are only two options, beef or chicken, but both are so delicious that you would never wish for anything else. After selecting, you take a seat at the metal sidewalk tables, while the sharply-dressed chef carves the meat, wraps it in two layers of pita, and grills it briefly to toast the outside of the wrap. The meat is perfectly flavored and textured, and significantly better than most 'Middle Easten' food stands in Bangkok. But most impressively, each sandwich comes with its own set of accoutrements: the beef is sweetened with a minty yogurt and a suggestion of parsley, and the chicken is complemented with pickled vegetables, crisp french fries, and a deliciously creamy garlic sauce. Such incredible attention to detail can only be the result of the chef's true love for shawarma, which will surely by shared by anyone else who eats here.


Prêt à Voyager said...

In Paris I was always a fan of the "Sandwich Grec" and in Berlin, the "Doner." Yum! If only there was a stand nearby so I could pick one up for lunch!

Freshly Found said...

MMM! Makes me want to be there! - and eat!

laradunston said...

I love Little Arabia too! And this shwarma is pretty close to authentic - my partner and I are actually working on a photographic and oral narrative book on 'the shwarma diaspora' believe it or not - I find it fascinating the way they have evolved in different countries to suit local tastes... in the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe they are generally awful... more like a hamburger, served with mayonaise. These sound and look delicious!

Xander said...

Wow, I'd love to see that book when it comes out. When I was in college I was very fond of Zankou chicken, an Armenian shawarma place that is rather famous around Los Angeles. Then when I visited the Middle East, I grew addicted to the garlicy shish tawouk that I'd get around Beirut. When I returned to Los Angeles, I searched out a few Lebanese restaurants to satisfy my cravings- I found particularly good ones in Westwood and Pasadena. So the presence of a Little Arabia was no small part of what made Bangkok so appealing- there are so many Middle Eastern restaurants to try! I've tried a few different shawarma stands in Bangkok, both around there and Banglamphu. They've ranged from wraps that barely resembled the real thing, to delicious approximations, to this one, which tastes almost exactly like the ones I enjoyed in Beirut. -X

Nabiha said...

I tried these during my trip to Bangkok..but the ones you can find in Dhaka are really good too..