A petite Lebanese stand on Sukhumvt Soi 23.
Word has it that the chef here used to work at Nadimos before opening this little Lebanese joint in Asoke—two street-side tables under a red awning, and just a few indoor seats. Their shawarma wrap comes loaded with seasoned chicken, cabbage, onions and garlic cream in a warm pita.
This review took place in November 2018 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
There’s something charming about restaurants that don’t wow you with flashy interiors or even well-thought-out concepts. Rawabina, a petite Lebanese stand on Sukhumvit Soi 23 with about four tables crammed into a modest shop-house floor, doesn’t impress with any of the above—and we like it that way.
It’s a slender, pale-colored hole-in-the-wall that gets the food right. Most customers seem to swing by the stall on the front terrace to grab juicy shawarma wraps (B100/chicken, B120/lamb), chat with the owner manning the two large broiler machines outside and then bounce.
On a recent lunch visit, we were some of the few people who braved the inside (including a group of the owner’s friends). Thanks to rickety wooden tables, floppy plastic menus, an understandable lack of alcohol and no air-con, Rawabina is best used as a dash-in-dash-out kind of lunch and dinner place. That’s not to say the unpolished vibe is a turn off. It’s this kind of ungentrified, no-frills restaurant that helps to make neighborhoods worth living in, largely because they nail fuss-free food.
The menu spans all the Lebanese favorites, from creamy labneh (strained yogurt topped with mint and olive oil, B150) and among the best hummus we’ve tried (from B120) to tender sukjuk rolls packed with well-seasoned minced beef (B220).
If you are on a solo mission with time to sit in, the shawarma lamb set (B280) is a must. It’s absolutely rammed with huge piles of hummus, labneh, tender lamb slices and a snappy, fresh “Arabic salad” (seasonal veg with olive oil, mint and lime juice). It’s one-stop shopping at its best and should be on everyone’s first-time order—especially at these portions and prices.
Simpler items fare just as well, like the soothing and rich lentil soup and crispy sambusek meat pockets (deep-fried dough pouches stuffed with minced beef, B160)—both satisfying and well prepared.
Nothing-y interior and aesthetic aside, Rawabina feels exactly as a mom-and-pop restaurant should: friendly and comforting. If we could stand to live in Asoke, we’d probably be regulars. With opening hours that stretch until midnight, it’s worth a stop if you’re bar hopping around the area, too.