Café Isan, JLT, scoops Time Out Dubai Restaurant Award 2021 for Best Thai AGAIN
Café Isan, Dubai’s most authentic Thai street food and tea bar restaurant, is reeling from the exciting news that it has taken the Time Out Restaurant Awards 2021 award for Best Thai restaurant – for the second year in a row.
Continuing its dominance of the city’s south Asian dining scene, Café Isan survived the pandemic by going the extra mile for its loyal and ever-growing customer base, delivering deals, offers, and even cook-at-home kits – all served with a side of love.
The restaurant, in Jumeirah Lake Towers Cluster B last year, once again took the coveted Best Thai restaurant award, beating off 9 other contenders. Last year’s award marked the first time in the Time Out Award’s history that an independent Thai restaurant has won this accolade – and now, the venue has broken another record – being the first Thai restaurant to get the award two years running!
The award was received by Chef New, who launched the restaurant concept back in 2015.
Chef New says: “Last year we were overjoyed to take this really special award. This year, it’s even more meaningful, given the challenges we’ve faced – like every small business. I think there are two things which our customers love – the authentic, fresh food, and the fact that we have genuinely worked hard to ensure we kept up our commitment to delivering our dishes to people, despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
In the last year, Café Isan pivoted to increase its online offerings, and widen its delivery area to encompass all of Dubai. Offering cook-at-home kits meant bringing the fresh Café Isan flavours into everyone’s homes, topped with a few special freebies like a health-giving ginger and lemongrass drink. Chef New increased her online presence with a series of ‘cook along’ You Tube videos, and the latest innovation from the hard-working team is the chance to take up a Café Isan micro franchise; food carts firstly being offered to those customers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
As co-Founder Lisa Knight explains: “Our difference is we try hard to be a genuine part of the community. We have helped the Thai diaspora in Dubai survive the pandemic, with special food deals, encouraged people to share good deeds and positivity with our ‘pandemic of kindness’ social media campaign, and allowed all our staff to take the time off they needed to be with their families and help do their bit in avoiding the spread of COVID-19. We go the extra mile to serve good, fresh food that people love, while also trying to help keep our loyal customers that little bit happier during these troubling times.”
The restaurant, on the JLT waterfront, offers perfect views over the water, complemented by authentic, tasty food. In the last year, Chef New has worked hard to introduce rolling special menu items, such as the dazzling pink noodles she adapted from her childhood memory of everyone’s favourite roadside dish in Isan. Café Isan cooks food to order, so it can be as spicy or mild as you like, and there’s a range of vegan dishes on offer, too, catering for those with allergies, intolerances and special dietary requirements.
And Chef New and her team are no strangers to awards. On top of the double whammy Best Thai Restaurant awards, the thriving restaurant is already a winner of the ‘Best Budget’ and was shortlisted for the ‘Best Thai’ Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards in 2017. The cosy, friendly restaurant also won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2017, and was proudly nominated for a BBC Good Food Award in 2018.
The distinctive dishes and memorable flavours come from north eastern Thailand – the Isan region – with Chef New working hard to reflect the renowned warmth of the region’s food, people and culture.
You’re sure to leave saying Jurgan prung ni! (See you tomorrow!).