With the influx of Indian tourists, Indian restaurants appear to be multiplying. In fact not “appear to be”, but are actually springing up everywhere. What was a massage parlor yesterday is an Indian restaurant today.
However, these new restaurants have yet to prove themselves, while the Indian restaurant we reviewed this week has proved itself many years over as being the number one restaurant of this genre.
This is Ali Baba (and the 40 Thieves), where you will find the restaurant is at the lower reaches of Pattaya Klang (Central Road), about 50 meters before Beach Road on the left hand side. Streetside parking (or use Tops up Central Road).
The entrance to the restaurant sets the tone for the dining experience. A staircase with faux jewels lining the steps takes you up to a ‘grotto’ with alcoves containing dining areas for two to eight persons plus private dining areas seating up to a dozen diners, complete with curtained windows, Indian paintings and tapestry brocades everywhere. The service staff is in traditional Indian garb, complete with turbans. The background music is also ethnic Indian. There is no mistaking you are in the land of the Mughalai warriors.
The menu is large (physically as well as number of dishes) and take your time to go through it all. There is an explanation of differing styles of Indian cooking on the front cover inside, and Ali Baba is predominantly Mughalai cuisine.
The way in has starters at around B. 120-350, which has all the ‘chats’ and my favorite Onion Bhaji (a popular street food in Maharashtra India) and vegetable samosas. Indian samosas are usually vegetarian, and often accompanied by a mint sauce or chutney. Vegetarian samosas originated in Uttar Pradesh.
Kebabs feature next (B. 355) and includes chicken, paneers (cheeses) and a Murgh Malai (BBQ chicken).
The Tandoori cook is a busy chap with almost every table asking for at least one item from the tandoor, including the naan breads (garlic and butter naan the most popular). Tandoor items range between B. 300 and 500. (You can recognize the Tandoori chef by the burns on his forearms.)
Kebabs feature next (B. 345) and includes chicken, paneers and a Murgh Malai (BBQ chicken).
Masala’s are around B.B. 200-300 including the ever popular Chicken Tikka Tawa Masala.
Curried chicken dishes range between B.250-290 and the British favorite of a Balti Chicken Madras is available.
Seafood dishes are around B. 350-400, seafood always attracting a premium at the markets and then at the end user.
Lamb is surprisingly cheap, with most around B. 350 including Vindaloo and another perennial Rogan Josh.
Still in the menu, the paneers are under B. 300 and the eight different types of rice range between B. 60-300.
Breads? There are 17 to choose from, including my favorite garlic naan, mentioned previously.
Since Indian dining is a ‘family’ affair, the table gets loaded down by the end of the evening. We were a group of four and we had Onion Bhaji, Tandoori Chicken (full), Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes), Butter Chicken, Rogan Josh (aromatic lamb curry), Raita (curd with mixed vegetables) Garlic Naan, Butter Naan and Pilau rice. And every mouthful was delightful.
At the end, two of our group asked for Indian tea and they came in a faux Clarice Cliff cup and saucer set, just begging to be photographed.
Ali Baba Tandoori and Curry Restaurant, 1/13-14 Central Pattaya Road, Pattaya City, telephone 038 361 620 or 038 429 262 (fax) 038 414 464, open seven days 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. On-street parking.