Alibaba – Exotic Tastes of Indian Cuisine

Papad chat, masala papadums, raita, pickled onions, picked vegetables and 3 dipping sauces.

New restaurants pop up left right and centre in the city but only a select few stand the test of time. Alibaba, located on Central Pattaya Road, between the Beach Road and the 2nd road is serving tandoori, curry and Indian specialties since 1984, still carrying the crown for the longest serving Indian restaurant. Pattaya Mail dining out team set out to evaluate how it has evolved over times.

The entrance to the Alibaba restaurant is just as fascinating. As you walk up the narrow staircase, lined with pots of jewellery “stolen” by the legendary 40 thieves, you’re greeted with soft classical Indian music and exotic Indian décor, by any standards seems elegant, with lots of gold trims and delicate, intricate patterns on curtains to table linen and wall hangings. While feasting at Alibaba, diners can enjoy the beautiful Indian-themed décor and artwork, adding to the feeling of authenticity with an exotic Indian atmosphere further enhancing the dining experience. Restaurant is made up of well-spaced alcoves and there are also private dining areas, seating up to a dozen diners creating a comfortable, homely atmosphere.

The culinary history of India is one that’s incredibly rich and varied, ranging across the flavour palette from mild to spicy, these complex, multi-textured dishes are the products of a medley of influences from different regions of India with its great regional diversity.

We started with a bottle of white wine and an assortment of breads; Tandoori Roti, Butter Naan, Garlic Naan, Bhatura, Puri and Pudina Paratha which were served with three dipping sauces, pickled onions and pickled vegetables. All breads were delicious but Pudina Paratha was our favourite, probably the best I have ever eaten.

Pani puri, also known as Gol Gappa, Gupchup, Pani ke Patake, an all-time favourite street food of India.

For the starters we ordered Papad Chat (Baht 170), Masala Papadums (Baht 120) and Pani Puri. Papad Chat was laden with potatoes and chick peas, and laced with yoghurt, tamarind chutney, and chat masala. Crispy papadums were beautifully presented topped with onions, tomato and spices. Both were simply delicious and appetizing. Pani puri, was the unexpected delight; every mouthful was bursting with savoury, tangy, sweet flavours and dripping with spicey tamarind water in the mouth. Pani Puri, also known as Gol Gappa, Gupchup, Pani ke Patake is an all-time favourite street food of India.

It is a joyful, interactive snack and a crowd-pleaser. Each puri is assembled one at a time and designed to be eaten in one (very large) bite. Pani Puri is made of a hollow crispy lentil casing of fried dough with a hole, filled with a mixture of savoury filling. Next step is to pour spiced tamarind water into the stuffed puri and quickly shove the entire thing into your mouth. It is fun to eat creating a joyful mess that inspires laughter and amusement as you are struggling with the big mouthful while enjoying the delightful rich flavours bursting in the mouth.

For the next course we opted for the popular Tandoori Platter “Alibaba and 40 thieves” (Baht 1105) A gala feast of tandoori delicacies; an assortment of chicken, lamb, fish, prawns, vegetables, cottage cheese, which is perfectly adequate for 3 to 4 persons. The best tandoori experience and great value for the money.

We then tasted the Masahari Thali (non vegetarian) (Baht 675) It consists of taste-bud tickling multi-sensorial delights; small portions of a variety of delicacies in tiny bowls, served with biriyani rice and naan bread in a large thali platter. The excitement around eating a thali lies in the fact that you can try a variety of dishes from starter to dessert in one large thali. Masahari Thali offers 12 varieties of non-vegetarian curries and delights deliciously capturing the effervescence of the diversity of Indian cuisine.

Masahari Thali (non-vegetarian) with 12 varieties of curries and delights deliciously capturing the effervescence of the diversity of Indian cuisine.

We were already full, but to review the vegetarian offerings, we tasted Palak Paneer (Baht 275), Channa Masala (Baht 160) and Vegetable Biryani (Baht 185). Both Palak Paneer and Channa Masala were delicious and great accompaniments for Vegetable Biryani for a satisfying vegetarian meal.

For the dessert, we ordered Rasmalai and Kulfi. It was hard to resist the rich, creamy and sweet taste of light and spongy Rasmalai and the frozen dessert Kulfi, denser and creamier than regular ice cream. Both were simply delicious and irresistible.

The service was exceptional with nonintrusive attentive service by the well-groomed, turban clad waiting staff in traditional costumes led by manager Manju who treats you like a Maharaja. They were efficient in retrieving food and drinks in a timely manner and were friendly, knowledgeable about the food, and seemed enthusiastic and proud to be serving it.

“Alibaba and 40 thieves” Tandoori Platter, an assortment of chicken, lamb, fish, prawns, vegetables and cottage cheese served on a sizzling platter, perfect for 3- 4 persons.

Alibaba offers an extensive menu; The starters, rice and bread sections of the menu offer lots of inexpensive options ranging from Baht 25 to Baht 290. Other dishes on the menu range from Baht 160 to Baht 1105 that include Kebabs, Tikkas, Tandoori, Tawa Masala, Curries – Chicken, Seafood, Lamb and Vegetarian dishes, with the large Tandoori platter “Alibaba and 40 thieves” for 3-4 persons being the most expensive at Baht 1105. Needless to say, that it is great value for money.

We highly recommend this legendary tandoori and curry restaurant for an authentic Indian dining experience. When you visit, make sure to try some of the all-time favourites such as the kebabs, tikka tawa masala, tandoori, curries and varieties of Indian bread. They also offer a variety of vegetarian dishes in their extensive menu; each dish is prepared with fresh ingredients and carefully blended exotic herbs and spices.

Alibaba, 1/13-14 Central Pattaya Road (about 200 meters heading to the beach on the left hand side), opposite the Basaya Hotel, telephone 038 361 620, home deliveries 038 423 227, email: [email protected], streetside parking, open seven days 11 a.m. until midnight.

Puri, Vegetable Biryani, Channa Masala and Palak Paneer.
Wine service by well-groomed, turban clad waiter in traditional costume.

Attentive service by friendly, knowledgeable waiter.
Exquisite dining room decorated with exotic Indian inspired décor.

Well stocked bar.
Warm welcome by the well-groomed turban clad doorman.