Tom Yum Kung in International City serves classic, flavourful Thai dishes with fast and friendly service.


Thai restaurant is best kept secret in Dubai International City

Tucked away in International City is Dubai’s best kept secret: Tom Yum Kung. This intimate restaurant has, hands down, the best Thai food that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. has been there more than four times (all incognito) and we can honestly say that the food is consistently delish. The Tom Yum is definitely the star here. It’s amazingly authentic. No wonder the orders keep coming. Once, the kitchen crew were busy preparing for a bulk order. “Where is it for?” we asked. “The Zabeel palace,” the manager tells us with an excited look on her face.

Tom Yum Kung is certainly one of those restaurants whose popularity was fueled by word of mouth. We try to visit at around 7pm or earlier so we can get the seats near the glass window, and before it gets crowded because the place is quite intimate. We’ve met a British couple who drove all the way from Dubai Marina. A family of Arabs. An Indian family. A Filipino couple with their daughter. A Thai man and his Chinese friend.

Run by its owner and chef Kannapun, the resto serves classic Thai dishes with fast and friendly service. Their flavorful food comes in servings that are big enough to share. Affordable, too. The price of their mains is less than the price of a starter at other Thai restaurants, yet Tom Yum Kung doesn’t compromise on taste.

Chef Kannapun himself is as endearing as his food. He loves creating food art with fruit and vegetable carvings, and he’ll send that out to the tables along with the dishes he personally prepares with his small team of chefs.

Chef Kannapun of Tom Yum Kung Thai restaurant in International City

He’ll also throw in a joke or two if he is not so busy to do his usual rounds. One time, he amused us by singing his quirky version of the Filipino song Sex Bomb!

“I learned it from my former colleagues at the hotel where I used to work,” a smiling Kannapun told We didn’t tell him that his colleagues messed with the words!

Kannapun told us he worked for more than a decade as a chef in one of the five-star hotels in Dubai before deciding to open his own restaurant. He felt it was his “true calling”.  Luck and talent worked in his favor. At first, his restaurant in International City was just doing home deliveries. Now, he has expanded to his own brick and mortar restaurant in International City. He revealed to that he and a partner will be opening an outlet in Dubai Mall’s Chinatown soon.

But his International City restaurant will always hit different for those looking for a hole in the wall restaurant. A must-try for anyone who likes Thai food or Asian cuisine made with love. It is definitely worth the drive.

Don’t miss it: Tom Yum Kung. Shop 1, Bldg. Y21, England Cluster, International City, Dubai. Mains start at Dh32. 056 4265679, 058 2146761 or 052 7498097

A condensed version of this story also appears in the Expat Media Special Edition magazine.

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