Thailand in Tel Aviv

Rumored to be the most authentic Thai food in Tel Aviv, Beit Thailandi is a culinary adventure into the far east close to our beach here. Lindsay Citerman details her spicy enjoyment of this delightful establishment!

Beit Thailand (Thai House) is rumored to have the most authentic Thai food in Israel. At least this is what a friend of mine told me after her travels in Thailand a few years back. So I was delighted the other night to venture over myself and enjoy some spicy Thai food without having to purchase a flight. Not that I would not like to but, at the moment, dinner with a friend at the Thai House is significantly more feasible. This dark, bamboo covered Tel Aviv establishment tries to hide itself behind masses of trees on a prominent corner of Ben Yehuda Street and Bograshov. The restaurant offers a bar area, a “patio,” that I believe is code for area-decorated-with-more-bamboo, and another dining area. Despite it’s central, bustling location, walking into Thai House one immediately feels an intimate, potentially romantic, atmosphere with opium-den like lighting.

As we poured over I menus, I was already starving for spicy. My companion said she was craving beef. We would both be satisfied. We opened with the evening’s special appetizer: spicy Spanish mackerel ceviche. This dish was a perfect way to open one’s palate. Served in a rice vinegar-based marinade with chili, lime, fresh garlic and mint, the fish was delicately cured and tasted delicious. I was delighted that Shoshana was in the mood for beef, not fish.

We ordered two salads for our next course: traditional Thai papaya salad and a warm chopped chicken salad. The papaya salad offered a lovely blend of super thin curls of papaya and carrot with chopped cherry tomatoes and cilantro in light peanut vinaigrette. Shoshana was pleasantly surprised that this salad featured a tasty savory papaya nothing like the sweet fruit she dislikes. I was happy to enjoy a Thai classic I recall loving at my favorite Thai restaurant back in New York. The chopped chicken salad was a new and surprising treat. Finely chopped warm chicken is mixed with cilantro and red onions and served with cucumber chunks as edible garnish. As we munched our salads, we delighted over the unique taste of this salad and Shoshana, who pays particular attention to food texture, marveled at the light crunch of the salad. Our very knowledgeable waitress, who had explained every traditional dish to us in detail as we ordered, offered a simply delicious solution: the salad included roasted rice as well. Yum.

After enjoying a lovely pause to chat after our appetizers, our beef-filled main dishes arrived. I went for a traditional Thai red coconut milk-based curry with beef and bamboo roots, looking forward to the intense spicy our server warned of. Shoshana was seeking a dish that would still be delicious without being spicy, and a unique dish of chopped beef, soy-soaked noodles, and cilantro topped with a sunny-side up egg on top was the recommendation. With our dishes arrived offers of how one is intended to consume these dishes: the curry is to be spooned over the rice and eaten with either chopsticks or a fork whereas the chopped beef is meant to be mixed to let the egg yolk blend with the sauce and eaten with a large spoon. Both dishes were fantastic and unique in their flavors and textures. We also noticed, as we enjoyed tasting each other’s choices, that the portions were so generous that we had no chance of finishing them. Lunch for the next day or two at work is an added bonus to this meal!

We could not possibly leave without sampling one of the Thai House’s desserts and a tea. We chose the tapioca in coconut milk served over chopped ice with fruit. Though we both associate tapioca with our grandparents, we devoured the entire dessert. It was just the right hint of sweet with the cold and refreshing textures of the tapioca and the ice floating in coconut milk. Paired with my ginger tea and Shoshana’s jasmine tea, it was a perfect clean finish to a fantastic Thai culinary evening.