A spot of Thailand in Geneva

I want to be one of the first to say that Soi will be big. It will expand so rapidly that the number of red plastic stools the owners brought with them from Thailand will hardly be enough. Their fat juicy barbecued green curry sausage is the best thing I have eaten in my life. Wash it down with what looks like carrot juice but really is Thai Milk Tea. Order any of their grilled meat dishes just to taste the dipping sauce – it is sweet, spicy, and gives Sriracha a run for its money. Unpaid UN interns will be delighted to know that you can get a generous portion here for 15 francs – almost unheard of in extortionate Geneva.

Flavours aside, Soi is hipster. Thai indie pop plays in the background, and portraits by an up-and-coming Thai street photographer hang on the walls. There is a tuk-tuk motorcycle in the restroom. The garlands which decorate the terrace outside remind me of how men, women and children weave through the traffic jams in Bangkok, tap-tap-tapping on car windows to offer their handmade floral necklaces for sale. Even the scaffolding that overlays the building seems to add to the atmosphere, because it is reminiscent of how Bangkok is always undergoing construction. The plastic stools and the stainless steel tables are reminiscent of the makeshift eateries by the road, except there is now psychedelic LED lights overhead, as well as air-conditioning.

Soi was born of a romance between a Thai chef and a Swiss woman. Both of them young, energetic and cool. He studied French cooking, and she thought his flavours would pack a punch in the frou-frou fondue-flooded food scene of Geneva. The wallpaper, featuring the temple-and-pagoda Bangkok skyline, was hand drawn by her former high school classmate. They opened their doors a year ago.

In the West, it is hard to establish an Asian restaurant that comes off as hipster and cool, rather than fobby and foreign. Soi takes Southeast Asian cooking and, instead of wrapping it in banana leaves, dresses it up in pop beats and street photography. The equivalent of a Trojan Horse in the restaurant world.

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