Can the global Thai restaurant make its mark in Riyadh?
Saudi Arabia is welcoming new restaurants, from homegrown hotspots to international brands. Following the influx of openings, however, we have noticed a lack of one cuisine – Thai restaurants. Step forward, Long Chim in Bujairi Terrace. The concept prides itself on serving food inspired by Bangkok.
Long Chim is located in the fashionable Bujairi Terrace. The sophisticated space combines tradition and modernity to create a one-of-a-kind dining destination. Overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Site, At-Turaif, the area celebrates Saudi culture, from a carousel with the Kingdom’s animals to Saudi restaurants.
In Thai, long chim translates to come and try, and is an invitation to share dishes. The phrase is typically used for informal dining experiences at street stalls and markets. Long Chim can be found in Australia’s Perth and Sydney, and it was previously in Seoul, Singapore and Expo 2020 Dubai.
Chef David Thompson hails from Sydney, Australia. He made a name for himself as an expert in Thai food, and helped put the cuisine on the international map. He was behind the MICHELIN-Starred restaurant, Nahm, inside London’s The Halkin hotel. Now, he has opened his first venture in Saudi Arabia.
Every time we have visited Bujairi Terrace, we have noticed that Long Chim is a popular place. Our visit was no different, as the tables were packed with people from all backgrounds. The décor indoors boasts a casual, contemporary vibe with wooden tables, orange seats and a blue banquette. The walls are covered in Thai artwork and writing, and the open kitchen lets you watch the chefs at work. Be warned: it can get a little smoky, as the smell of spices fills the air.
We sat outside and soaked up the views of the main square, palm tree-lined streets and At-Turaif. The friendly staff talked us through the menu, which spans starters, soups, salads, curry, mains, rice, noodles and desserts. As they were knowledgeable about the dishes, we went with their recommendations.
The Spicy Cashew Nuts was a fiery start, combining tamarind, spring onion and fish sauce. The Chicken Satay Leu was sweet and spicy, as it combined turmeric, coconut and peanuts. The three pieces were served on skewers, which could be easily dipped into a moreish chilli sauce. The Green Papaya Salad was bright and beautiful with beans, prawns and more peanuts.
The mains include classic dishes, from pad Thais to stir-fries. The Grilled Beef with Smoky Tomato and Fish Sauce had a rich taste, and each strip of meat was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The Deep Fried Whole Fish was the star of the supper, as the fish was freshly cooked, deboned at the table and superb for sharing.
The desserts range from the classic Mango and Sticky Rice to Tapioca Young Coconut. The ice cream options have a Thai twist – a green tea flavour, anyone? The mocktails offer exotic tastes, from the Coco Loco with almond, coconut puree, pineapple and orange, to the Summer Thai with ginger, lemongrass, yuzu, lime and 7UP.
Long Chim has diligently and deservedly carved out a niche for itself in Riyadh, and diners have paid attention. So, if you’re craving Thai cuisine, do as the restaurant suggests – come and try.
GO: Visit @longchimksa for more information.