They’re shaking it up!
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
‘Baba shuk,’ I’m informed, literally translates to ‘papa market,’ but is a common colloquial phrase that means, “let’s go to the market.” It’s with this opening salvo that I’m introduced to Baba Shuk, the newest offering in the social lodestone that is theCOMMONS Thonglor, and the restaurant’s point of view immediately makes sense. Inspired by the markets of Tel Aviv, Israel, which are a melting pot of cultures and tastes; the restaurant is right at home in theCommons, which channels the spirit of a market place in its energetic vibe and array of stalls. Chef Koy, who runs the kitchen, has lived and cooked in Israel for 18 years; while the founders’ partner, David Lanziano, is himself from Tel Aviv; so the city remains close to their heart – and in the heart of the food served at this joint.
Unassuming but homey and immediately welcoming, the restaurant consists of a black-and-chrome open kitchen where you can see their freshly-made dips, sauces, breads, and kebabs freshly-made from scratch; with green bricks adding colour to the front of the service bar where you can collect your food. This also means that you’re immediately hit by the delicious aromas of baking bread and spices; my stomach rumbling was proof enough of how much it had whet my appetite. An outsized menu allows you to see their range of offerings, and while you have your choice of seating in theCommons, there are plenty of chairs just in front of the restaurant for you to be near the action.
Co-owners Anchal Pathela and Chet Srikuruwal are also the ones who’ve brought the healthy deli Sourced to theCommons Thonglor, and indeed the restaurant just abuts the deli, so you can order a cheeky kombucha to pair with your meal – I know I did.
Food and Drink
I was informed that most of their food is served in three different ways: as a stuffed pita pocket; in rice bowls for those looking for a gluten-free option (or who, like many of us, need rice with every meal); and on a platter. I was pleased to see that there was a plethora of vegetarian and vegan options, but also a selection of meats for the carnivores among us. Essential with any Mediterranean or Lebanese meal, we started with a selection of dips, all made in-house. Their Garlic labneh (THB 200) was a stand-out – I’m a huge fan of garlic, but even those who don’t love the bulb will agree that it was the perfect amount to offset the creamy yoghurt, with pistachio dukkah and jalapeño to add some heat.
Of course, both the Baba ganoush (THB 180) and Muhammara (THB 220) were classics, but still elevated by the preparation. The former, which was topped with walnuts and pomegranate molasses, had the perfect amount of crunch and a subtle sweetness while the latter was extremely moreish, especially with the addition of pomegranate seeds. Another dip that you should look out for is their Butternut cherchi (THB 180), made with harissa oil – a unanimous favourite as none of us had tried it before, and the creaminess of the butternut made it the perfect vehicle for the generous dollop of spice. Hummus lovers, don’t miss out on their Israeli- style Hummus baba shuk (THB 250) which is plated unusually and consists of eggplant, boiled egg, a Middle Eastern hot sauce called s’chug, harissa oil, and tahini. Make sure to have all the elements in a single bite – the mouthfeel is incredible and the different flavours offset each other perfectly. Everything is, of course, served with pita bread made in-house, another stand-out of the restaurant. Fluffy and baked fresh each morning, I could have eaten an entire basket as it doesn’t sit heavy on the stomach and practically melts in your mouth.
To pair with your dips, I highly recommend their Falafel (THB 240), probably the best falafel I’ve had in the city, and I don’t say this lightly. When you cut into them, their green shade betrays the extra herbs used in the chickpeas, adding spice to each bite; while no flour is used, making for an extra-light mouthful. They’re served with a tahini sauce, and pair well with pickled cabbage and s’chug sauce. For an even healthier dish, opt for their Tabouleh (THB 180) salad, refreshing in the extreme.
Meat lovers, don’t despair, as they have meat options aplenty, from beef, to lamb and chicken; served in different ways. We started by tucking into their Lamb kebab (THB 320) pita, which was full of flavour and stuffed full of hummus, tahini, and fresh vegetables, for the perfect amount of crunch. Filling and with lashings of sauce and dips, this is a meal in itself. If you prefer something more plant-based, their Cauliflower (THB 250) pita is a must-try, an ode to the versatility of the humble vegetable.
Of course, no Mediterranean meal is complete without a kebab or two, and we went straight for their Harissa chicken shish kebab platter (THB 400) which I opted for instead of the less-spicy version as I love my dishes to come with a kick. Served with a scrumptious chilli- oil made in-house (which I’d want to eat by the spoonful if my tongue could handle it), it’s cooked perfectly – juicy and without the dry texture that can often come with chicken. The herb salad on the side was also a pleasant surprise, and one that had us (metaphorically) licking the platter clean.
The Harissa glazed corn ribs (THB 240), a hit on both Instagram and within our group. Controversially, I’m not a huge fan of corn, but these made me a believer, with the chilli offsetting the natural sweetness of the corn itself.
Ground floor, theCOMMONS Thonglor
335 Akkhara Phatsadu Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 094 526 4416