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Beirut comes to Thonglor

The Lebanese restaurant opens a fifth branch. It must be doing something very right



Beirut - the Bangkok restaurant, not the city - has for 14 years been the best local destination, along with Soi Nana, for authentic Lebanese food. The original Beirut is still in the Ploenchit Centre and branches subsequently opened on Sukhumvit and Silom roads and at Bumrungrad Hospital.

Now there's a fifth, on Soi Thonglor.

It's more upscale but still appealingly relaxed. In place of the homey ambience of terracotta tile and brick at the other locations, the new one glimmers in black and gold for more of an Arabian vibe. Up to 100 diners can sit in the main indoor restaurant or in an outdoor area, watching the Thonglor hustle and bustle.

The menu is exactly the same at all Beirut outlets, but the presentation here is much more posh, the better to please a cosmopolitan clientele. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable, though, offering great value for money.

A considerable variety of appetisers, salads, soups, sandwiches, vegetarian items, grilled meats and poultry and combination plates is on offer. To start there's a complimentary platter of pickled cucumber, tomato, spring onions, lemon slices and dips of garlic mousse, spicy sauce and tahini, the yoghurt-sesame paste mix.

"Lebanese food is healthy because of the wide use of herbs, garlic, olive oil, grains and lemon, with a combination of fresh and pickled vegetables and fruit," says manager Jean Chariya. "Barbecued dishes with a variety of dipping sauces are also key.

"Thais might not know our cuisine that well, but it's become very popular in Europe."

The appetisers include falafel for Bt160. You get a set of small, deep-fried vegetable patties made with spiced, ground chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and coriander and served with tahini

sauce. They're crunchy outside and moist inside.

The Bt150 lamb sambosa is a deep-fried spring roll containing the tender meat, and there's a tangy mixed salad with olive and feta cheese for Bt160.

If you're new to Lebanese dining, a smart choice for the main course would be one of the four combo platters (Bt380), big enough for three or four people, along with pita bread. I went for an array of hummus (chickpeas pureed with sesame paste), tabuleh (traditional parsley salad with crushed wheat, diced tomato and mint) and shawarma (herbed, marinated beef or chicken roasted on a skewer).

"Hummus is the most popular dish and is typically eaten with pita bread - or used as a sandwich spread," Jean explains.

Also well worth trying and good value for money is a combo of three grilled meats for Bt300. You get beef, and lamb kebab and shiche taouk, which is pieces of boned chicken marinated in garlic and Lebanese spices. It comes with rice or French fries.

Another pleasing dish is brown rice with lamb (Bt340), which is |similar to rice biryani. The lamb is marinated with herbs and spices like camphor seeds, cinnamon, cloves |and hazelnut, and the rice is quite |fragrant.

For those already getting familiar with Lebanese food, Jean recommends vegetarian moujadara, made with lentils and cooked with rice, or kofta batata, which is ground meat with parsley cooked with potato and tomato paste and served with vermicelli rice.

For dessert, try the baklava, a walnut, almond and pistachio marvel in filo pastry (Bt70). It's so sweet that you should eat it with hot tea.

TAHINI TIME

<< The newest branch of Beirut is on the second floor of the Eight Thonglor complex on Soi Thonglor 8, off Sukhumvit 55.

<< It's open daily from 11 to 11. Book a table at (02) 714 8963 or www.Beirut-Restaurant.com.


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