Friday, August 25, 2006

Nasser Elmassry Restaurant & Shishah, Bangkok

Due to popular demand, some of my Thai friends have asked me to post something based on my travels in Bangkok. A little forward before we begin; I love Bangkok's food scene. They have a lot of varieties of food done to very good standards. In fact, Bangkok has the largest population of Japanese living outside Japan and as such many top notched Japanese restaurants are available here, from the mass produced sushi outlets to fine dining on wagyu, Bangkok has it all. So what is more befitting then to do a post on (you guessed it) - Eygptian food haha.

Nasser Elmassry Restaurant & Shishah on 4/6 Sukhumvit Soi 3/1 in Nana serves mainly Egyptian fare with some Indian influences, which explains this refreshingly cool glass of mint lassi - just the thing for a hot Bangkok arvo. Unlike most versions you get in Singapore, this one wasn't too sweet which I enjoyed alot.

Nasser does one of the best pita breads I've tasted across the world. Baked to order, you have the option of having it straight, with garlic or butter. Eaten with the sides of stuffed vegetables, humus, pickles and lamb shank stew this is ideal for a light snack or afternoon tea.

A special mention needs to be said about their hummus. The adding of olive oil and tangy chopped cherry tomato salsa on the top was excellent. Their hummus was also served lightly chilled which is the way I normally prefer especially on a warm day.

The obligatory vegetable dish for this meal was the tomato-based vegetable stew. The stock tasted as rich as some tomato soups I've had in fine dining and the vegetables were stewed just right. Not too soft to be mushy with still a lingering hint of crunchiness and bite.

On to my favorite part of the meal - the meats. This is pita bread stuffed with minced lamb. Mind-blowing, that's all I can say about this dish, the spices and hints of chilli in the bread and minced lamb was just so good. The minced lamb was still extremely juicy and tender and any excess juice was soaked up by the bread.

Damn..... just look at those grilled meats. We ordered a combination platter of grilled chicken, beef and shishkebab (grilled minced lamb). The winner on this plate was clearly the shishkebab, which was bursting with flavor and juiciness with every bite. The chicken was a tad bit too dry and lean and the beef was slightly lacking in flavor. The marinades penetrate mince alot easier hence contributing to that kickass burst of flavor everytime I sink my teeth into a chunk of shishkebab.

The only dessert this place had that interested me was the crème caramel which is French in origin (also known as "flan" in Spain). I don't know why but this is not the first time I've seen Eygptian or Middle-Eastern joints serving crème caramel. I know the French established colonies in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon so maybe this was just a dessert diffusion of sorts. I was so hoping to get some baklava but none of the Middle-Eastern restaurants in Nana seemed to serve it. I mean they knew what I was talking about because they kept saying "Baklava" and nodding their heads with huge grins in return when I queried about it, they just didn't serve it.

Turkish coffee was the best way to end this meal because the crème caramel was slightly too sweet for my liking. Turkish coffee is done slightly differently from conventional coffee because the ground coffee beans are not percolated but rather boiled together with the water making it alot stronger and bitter.

Bangkok is indeed a food haven and some good finds serve food very authentic to their origins and besides Bangkok is heaps closer than Egypt. On a last ending note, Nasser does have a smoking corner upstairs for your shishah and hookah cravings.


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