Thai food is bland and boring…said no one ever! Zen Restaurant review (Dubai)

Thai food is bland…said no one ever! What I love about Thai cuisine is that it intricately combines different types of textures, flavors, aromas and colors creating a variety of palatable tastes in your mouth. I find it utterly fascinating how they can combine sour, sweet, spicy and salty into a dish. All your senses come to play when you eat Thai. I had thought I found the best Thai place in Dubai until I went to Zen.

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I recently read somewhere that Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, with seven of its dishes making it onto 50 most delicious foods. Why I am not surprised?
The interesting thing is that Zen actually opened up almost 10 years ago in 2005 and was a well reputed Asian restaurant in Dubai for take-out and delivery. However due to the recession, around 2008, had to close down but re opened in 2011 in Business Bay (Metropolis Tower) from which they still operate.

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Nicky, the owner of Zen invited us for a tasting at this quaint little intimate restaurant that’s meant for take away and delivery. There is seating if you would like to dine in, however this is limited.

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The menu comprises both Thai and Chinese cuisine. However I was more interested in the Thai dishes.

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To drink we got the mint lemonade drink which had tangy salty kick to it. I loved it.

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Nicky not only walked us through his recommendations for dishes to try, he also explained how the various dishes are cooked and explained how fresh ingredients used for the dishes are flown in straight from Thailand. One thing that is clearly evident is that Nicky has a great passion for good quality fresh food, which he prides himself in. Nicky is a Thai native of Indian descent and rather impressively speaks fluent Thai. I found it impressive that they use Thai cooks to prepare the meals, this goes a long way to creating a truly authentic touch. I couldn’t wait to get started with the tasting.

For starters we had:

Tom yum soup with prawns I always shy away from Tom yum because my threshold for chilly is quite low. Nicky was kind enough to make the soup mild, which I still found a tad chilly but bearable and delicious nonetheless. I was initially slightly put off by the smell but this fizzled out as soon as I tasted the soup.The nourishing red clear soup had sprinkles of chili flakes which gave the soup a lovely bold flavor. The prawns were fresh and generously cooked to perfection.

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Salt and Pepper Prawns which are lightly coated and spicy reveal deliciously firmly cooked prawns. I’m used to coating on prawns being sloppy and thick and oily. This was not the case at all. I highly recommend these.

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Chicken satay, which was deliciously tender and a winner for me, it’s served with tamarind sauce.

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Steamed chicken dumplings with bean and soy sauce. Simply yum.

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For mains we were torn because of all the options but Nicky came to the rescue and recommended some dishes. We had:

Holy Basil chicken stir-fry with steamed rice. This dish really blew my mind with its spicy undertones and succulent flavors of garlic and basil. I have had this dish many years ago in Thailand and it really tastes wonderful. The amazing thing is I could taste the different flavors in my mouth which created an overall harmonious dish.

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The sticky rice here  is cooked in traditional bamboo rice steamers.

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The Red Curry based beef stir fry was utterly delicious too with tantalizing coconut hints of flavor oozing through the spiciness of the dish. This we had with the steamed rice.

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The Black Pepper beef sauce with the Thai style fried rice.

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IMG_0337 (1)The rice was delicious enough to have as a meal on its own. The beef in both the dishes I tried was well cooked and tasty. For some reason I find Asian beef dishes in Dubai taste odd, however, the beef here actually tasted great f with all the nutrients intact.

We also had the Malay egg noodles with chili chicken and prawn. I enjoyed it but I found it a little less interesting than the other dishes.

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Although we were all stuffed, we left a little room for dessert. It’s shameful to say this out loud but I had never had sweet sticky rice and mango. This was my first try and I instantly fell in love with it. You could taste the coconut milk infused rice and it was beyond scrumptious and not too sweet. The mango had coconut milk drizzled on top.

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The tap tim crob is a mixture of jackfruit pieces, water chestnuts in cold coconut milk and ice. I was a little apprehensive about trying this out but couldn’t get enough of it.
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The other thing I love about Thai food is how it is presented. Irresistibly presented food always creates an anticipation for any food experience. The food as Zen was presented beautifully and made my mouth water.

I love the fact that this place is very customer oriented and they take great pride in delivering excellent service and quality food made with quality ingredients. I am a firm believer that great food and service should be acknowledged and Zen really goes the extra mile to ensure that everyone leaves happier and fuller than they did going in.

The prices are also extremely reasonable for the quality they provide. Try it you won’t regret it. My views are in no way biased or influenced and reflect my opinion on a truly memorable experience.
This restaurant has tremendous potential to be the leading Thai restaurant in Dubai. They are opening a branch in JLT in the near future. To find out more about the restaurant be sure to check out their website http://zendubai.com/
Since the seating is limited be sure to call in advance if you would like to dine in 04 421 6969.

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Zen Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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