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Let’s Get Loud: Thai Karaoke Bars (And Food)

Addies and Thai Taste have gone through many facelifts and makeovers and they stand, as they are now, Thai restaurants with basement karaoke bars. But, it is a completely different story when the sun goes down. As far as I recall, both Addies and Thai Taste have been the sites of nightlife pilgrimage for young “upper crust” Thai students in the UK and their friends who pass by. Who am I talking about here? Say, sons and daughters of Thai MPs and ex-MPs, sons and daughters of Thai PMs and ex-PMs, wanna-be in-laws of MPs, ex-MPs, PMs and ex-PMs and Thai celebs who very often also want to be in-laws of … Shall I just leave this? For these London students, both Addies and Thai Taste are haunts, a small underground world where everybody knows everybody….

I am not one of them. Not quite keen on MPs and PMs. Nor do I care for mindless boozing as opposed to wine pairing. I only pass by these two places for food.

ADDIES

Addie's Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

Starting with Addies. The ground floor restaurant is a cosy, contemporary space you can sit and chill after the meal. The menu boasts many well known Thai dishes you can get off from vendors and their makeshift stalls all over Bangkok. Many kinds of noodles in soup, many popular North Eastern salad dishes and grills and many more Central Thai food you can get from ready-to-go stalls. That said, the dishes at Addies are not scrumptiously ghetto. They are street but with a touch of restaurant refinement.

My bowl of Kouy Tiew Yen Tah Foh – flat rice noodle in pink soup – was near authenticity as it could be. The base of the soup was a combination of pork stock, tomato sauce, pickled garlic juice and fermented beancurd juice, making the flavours mouth-wateringly sour and with just a hint of chilli. It is usually accompanied by fish balls, pork blood jelly, crunchy re-hydrated squid or white fungus, deep fried wantons and morning glory shoots. Here at Addies, you’d get almost everything apart from blood jelly and re-hydrated squid. This was a very decent attempt and not much compromise on flavours! The noodle arrived, just like in Thailand, with a selection of dried chilli flake, sugar, fish sauce and chilli vinegar, so you can DIY the flavours yourself. If you’re not keen on fishy things, their braised beef noodle is also very good.

I also asked for this Stir-Fried Soft Shell Crab with Curry Powder. It came a little deconstructed. The Curry Power Stir Fry – made from shallots, chilli, eggs and reduced coconut milk – was tasty. Perfumed, with a sweet and creamy hint of coconut milk but a mild note of chilli in the background. This was topped by deep fried soft shell crabs. Personally I would have liked them all mixed up but it was good.

THAI TASTE

Thai Taste on Urbanspoon

About 10 minutes walk from Addies is Thai Taste. The ambiance there isn’t as cosy, more of a white-washed restaurant with nothing but the sign that says Thai. The menu is more of an eclectic mix of Bangkokian dishes, a little less street, yet ironically a little less refined.

So, why bother? Dishes are still good and it can be a few odd pounds cheaper than Addies. Plus, the Thai clubbing crowd hits Thai Taste at a lot later hours. My most recent meal included (1) Fried Rice with Shrimp Oil and Fried Egg (2) Deep Fried Morning Glory with Spicy Prawn Dressing and (3) Sour “Orange” Curry of Prawns and Herbed Omelette. The fried rice was wet and there was not enough greasy sweetness coming from the shrimp oil. It was a sort of a student dish (that any Thai student can attempt at home). The salad of deep fried morning glory was good, though it could do with a little less grease in the batter. The sour and spicy dressing – made from chilli, garlic, lime juice and fish sauce – could also be spicier.

The “Orange” curry was, however, the star, as if it came from a different kitchen. This was a very light, herb-oriented curry with the focal flavours of sourness, heat and sweetness – in that order. There was, unfortunately for my other bib, no coconut milk in this dish; and nor were there oranges. Thais use the term “orange” to merely describe the colour of the herbal chilli paste that forms the base of their curry. To me, this dish was the taste of home. Very sour, moderately spicy and a little sweet. The prawns were perfectly poached and very springy. The omelette infused with bitter vine known as Cha Om in Thai had this delectable grease and creaminess of the eggs and the subtle bitterness of the Cha Om. Simply gorgeous.

Which one to go to? That is the question. I do not do preference here as there are good dishes at both Addies and Thai Taste. If it boils down to the ambiance, I’d have to say Addies. Still, be warned both places can be quite hectic late on Fridays and Saturdays. After all, their main target group is well-off Thai students who pack their basement bars. This doesn’t affect the dining rooms but you might need to queue for a long time for the loo…

Enough said,

My head rating for Addies and Thai Taste says, “8, 6 out of 10″.

My heart rating in the same order says, “7, 6 out of 10″.

Authenticity Rating: 9 and 8.

ADDIES

121 Earl’s Court Road
London
SW5 9RL

Tel. 020 7259 2620

www.addiesthai.co.uk

THAI TASTE

130 Cromwell Road
London
SW7 4ET

Tel. 020 7373 1647