Faux-retro, air-con Isaan joints are a dime a dozen in this town, and Isaan food even more so. Still, Zaab Eli is clearly doing something right because they are often packed for dinner, even in the middle of the week, with gaggles of schoolgirls, couples and an after-work crowd. It’s not just the food, which is good, though we’ve had many better Isaan meals, and it’s clear that a lot of people are happy that they can skip the street. The menu is quite extensive, like twenty stalls rolled into one: grilled stuff, fried stuff, som tam, fruit salads, larb and yam and even some items like mieng kham and mama pad (stir-fried instant noodles). The one with bacon and sausage is thoroughly flavorful and comes in a very sharable portion. Our only complaint, which is an odd one we admit, is that the bacon and sausage are so plentiful they they overwhelm the dish, though this probably makes it that much more appealing to others. The grilled chicken is a nice portion, too, and quite savory, though we can’t help wonder why it’s not more tender. Their som tam thai is solid: crunchy, spicy and not too sweet. (But their pla rah is not for the faint of heart.) Some of the larb offerings, while attempting to be a little less ordinary, can be disappointing. For example, the larb het ruam (mixed mushroom, B120) might contain a generous variety of mushrooms, but they’re quite overcooked and the sauce is a bit too spicy. Still, the prices are reasonable for the location, and other factors help enhance the experience. Zaab Eli is the sort of place Carrie Bradshaw might arrive at and redecorate while roughing it in Thailand in the next Sex and the City movie; or it could act as the location for a wedding in a Mum Jokmok movie. The décor is vibrant and kitsch, with cutesy tableclothes and hanging wicker lamps, which we find charming. So if you’re not into street dining, and can overlook some kitchen misfires in favor of a great hangout atmosphere, this is definitely the place for you. Corkage B300.
|Address:||Zaab Eli, 2/F, Arena 10, 225/11 Thonglor Soi 10, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Price Range:||B - BB|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm; Sun 11:30am-9:30pm|
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