Benjawan | Spicing up the New Year

I write this review with mixed feelings. I’m not really sure I want to share this little secret with the rest of the island for fear of changing this little gem hidden in plain sight in my least favourite location on the island – Bugibba.

Get ready for a bit of a kick from the Tom Yum soup that will make you work up a sweat or even bring a tear to your eye
Get ready for a bit of a kick from the Tom Yum soup that will make you work up a sweat or even bring a tear to your eye

Whilst discussing the pros and cons of making lifestyle changes at the beginning of the year a friend told a 20-minute story of a time he met some Thai girls at a bar and asked them where they go to eat Thai food (that was the only useful information that came out of the story - he is a lawyer and charges by the hour). Any thoughts of going easy on the dining out front went out the window and we booked a table for an early dinner at Benjawan, on a Thursday night in the first week of the year.

After trying to find St Anthony's Street on Google maps, we trundled off to Bugibba in search of some authentic Thai food. Following a trip to Thailand last winter, and falling in love with their cuisine, I kept an eye out for restaurants serving Thai food, however aside from a couple of pricey outlets there isn't really much going in the way of Thai food.

Like many other eateries in the tourist zone of Bugibba, the restaurant is no more than a two-car garage, with tacky décor and cheap glassware and cutlery and tiny paper napkins that get lost the minute the you put them on your lap.

This actually made the meal feel a little more authentic Thai, as the best meals I had in Thailand were on plastic stools on the side of the road, whilst inhaling exhaust fumes and trying to guess what it was we were eating.

No need for guessing at Benjawan, the menu includes all the classic Thai dishes you would expect, from fish cakes, satays, dumplings and spring rolls for starters, soups, stir fries and curries. Take some time to ask if there are any dishes that are not on the menu. We added a beef salad and prawn and glass noodle salad to our starters of a mixed platter, which were the stars of the show.

Some of my favourite meals in Thailand were simple soups - tom yum or coconut soups with a variety of meats, prawns or vegetables. Be careful how you order your soups - as the rest of the meal. The Thais have an incredible tolerance to chilli and although they say that their medium hot dishes are suitable for Europeans, it was enough to work up a sweat and maybe even bring a tear or two to the eye.

We then shared a few of the curries and decided to skip the stir-fries (there has to be something to come back for on another day). Massaman, panang, red and green curries - all were full of flavour and accompanied with steamed jasmine rice that is almost sticky.

Although we skipped dessert - Thai desserts aren't really my favourite, there was a Thai custard on the menu and a selection of ice-creams flavoured with lychees and other Thai fruit.

When the bill arrived we were more than pleasantly surprised. For a three-course meal that left us so full we could barely move and beers all round we paid a grand total of €25 a head.  Although a meal at Benjawan will break the New Year's Resolution of eating less, you can be sure it won't take too much out of the resolution to spend less money on eating out.

If you're looking for some spice in 2014, plan a trip to Benjawan while the streets of Bugibba are empty for a culinary treat.

Benjawan is open from Monday to Saturday 18:00 - 23:00 and on Sunday from 13:00 - 17:00.



St Anthony's Street,




Tel: 27040686, 9901725


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