The Smile restaurant is the nicest most upscale restaurant in Ubon.
Inside you could easily be in one of the upscale eateries on Thonglo or Ekkamai.
There is a main dining room and bar with a small stage with live music at night. There is a cozy outdoor patio that is dark, private and romantic at night, and private rooms in a separate guest house.
There is a ton of glass and high ceilings that give the restaurant an open airy feeling and the tables are placed away from each other creating separation between you and other parties.
The Smile is restaurant design where the designer isn’t facing the constraints commonly present in an urban environment–high per sq. meter costs for floor space or working inside a pre-existing space which wasn’t designed for a restaurant.
The Smile menu is similar to the Bolan — Upscale Thai gourmet.
A lot of the standard Thai dishes are offered but prepared with first class ingredients, first class attention to detail and preparation, and sometimes with a twist.
An example is the exquisite fruit based som tam. One bite starts initiates a whole series of sensations in your mouth. First, you taste the sweetness of the fruit, then there is a little sour taste, also from the fruit, and then finally the hot peppers set your mouth on fire. This dish is incredible because one bite stimulates so strongly so many different tastes buds.
At an Los Angeles restaurant this would be a signature dish that would get written up by all the food critics and draw foodies from miles around. Truly outstanding and exquisite but in The Thailand Foodie Scene nothing special or noteworthy.
This is a second tremendous Smile dish.
These ribs are par boiled then grilled.
No knives are offered as utensils because you don’t need them.
You separate meat from the bone with the traditional Thai spoon and fork.
The meat melts in your mouth with little chewing required and has a subtle smoky flavor and just the right texture.
In The World, there are a ton of upscale steak joints that offer great tasting roasted and grilled meat. They do it by working with excellent meat—from animals that are corn fed and pumped with hormones to get the proper marbling and which are meticulously aged under carefully controlled conditions. Any chef working with such meat can turn out a great dish. Its’ not rocket science and its’ expensive—around $80 to $100 USD and steakhouses in Los Angeles.
At the Smile, the chef creates a dish that is just as great tasting but does it, not by using premium ingredients which probably aren’t available in Ubon Ratchathani, but with technique and creativity.
Another outstanding dish that, again, if it were served in Los Angeles would get rave reviews from the local food critics and draw foodies from miles around.
Here are a few other items from the menu.
These are all traditional easily found Thai dishes but each one is prepared correctly and taste wonderful.
The Smile might be the best Thai restaurant I’ve encountered in Thailand.
It’s odd that it isn’t some high priced, hi soi, exclusive Bangkok eatery but is located down a small side street in middle of nowhere Ubon Ratchathani and that is surprisingly affordable by Thai standards and dirt cheap by World standards.
If this restaurant were located in Los Angeles or New York, dinner would cost over $100 USD per person, it would get rave reviews from the local food critics, and getting seated would be difficult.
The Heart of Issan — a culinary nugget.