You know those restaurants that you always pass by but never go in? They attract you, but maybe you are just passing by or not hungry. Or perhaps you say, next time, and next time spans out over the course of a few months.
That’s what happened to me with the restaurant Le Banthai in Nice, France. Every time I go to the old city, I pass by and am intrigued. The place is almost always packed to the gills and the menu is super short. (I normally find this a plus-I prefer five perfect dishes over twenty not-so perfect ones.) They have some of my favorite Thai dishes, like Som Tam and Laab, but I never had the opportunity to stop in until a week ago.
I went in a bit late, around 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon, so the small restaurant was almost empty. I chose to have a nice, light summer lunch with the Som Tam green papaya salad and sticky rice. The open kitchen is manned by a lovely Thai lady whose dishes literally transport you to Bangkok. Expecting a decent version of the salad, I was pleasantly surprised when my dish came and it tasted just like the ones I had in Thailand.
Service was super quick, though mind you I was not in there during the lunch or dinner-time rush, so things might be different at other times of the day. The salad and rice was definitely enough to satisfy my appetite. The prices are the same for every dish on the menu (about 12 euro), so green papaya salad is the same price as meat or fish dishes. If you compare the prices to Thailand, obviously it seems expensive. But as far as Nice goes, prices are fair and the restaurant is a really welcome change from the ubiquitous pizza and pasta restaurants in the Vieux Nice.
Go early, late or make a reservation if you want the most authentic Thai food in Nice. I can’t wait to go back and eat my way through the rest of the menu!