Hard to find and as kitsch as it gets, this eccentrically decorated Thai restaurant may well be the best of its kind in the entire country.
Cheap as chips: Smiling BKK
Smiling BKK is possibly the best Thai restaurant in the UAE. It's nestled somewhere behind Ghuram Sadraf Gents Hairdressers, next door to Latina Tan, just off Al Wasl Road, behind the Emarat petrol station and opposite the old Dubai London Clinic.
From the task of finding it to the menu's hilarious anglicised monikers, dining here is always a hoot. After passing the moustached Mona Lisa, the 44 multicoloured light shades draw your attention to four high shelves, which are stacked with paraphernalia such as a 1940s transmitter radio and countless blow-up safari animals.
But the real star of this Thai-owned, Thai-run and Thai-chefed delight is the food. For starters, try the prawn cakes served with sweet sauce (Tod Mun Goong or Shout Yourself This One). As for the main course: share. To complement the stir-fried chicken with hot basil and chilli (Pad Krap Rao or Roll Over Beethoven), help yourself to morning glory with chilli, garlic and soy bean sauce (Pak Boong Fai Dand or Great Balls of Fire). Be warned, though, spicy means spicy here.
Rice always helps: try the fried variety with prawns, galangal, lemon grass, red onion and chilli paste (Kao Pad Tong Yum Goong). For two, the bill will not exceed Dh170.