All posts filed under “Thai

IMG_6888
comments 4

Ethnically Cheap in (Relatively) Central London

Cheap, not sh*t!

Right. It’s not a myth to get an alright meal in a restaurant with a seat and in a heater-ed venue for around £12-15. There is always a time when I have to deal with my gastronomic overspending, and after years of nip-picking “cheap sh*t” out of “cheap eat”, I have come across a few little gems, full of character and serving up alright food at an insanely bargained price. Here are some of them…

Stick & Bowl

Stick & Bowl on Urbanspoon

Rating: 3/5

A small Chinese haunt for maids in Kensington, opposite Royal Garden Hotel where Min Jiang is situated. The more genteel Kensington residents also like it (I learned this from my very proper friend who live in the area), but they send the maids to fetch their takeaway. The eatery is a tiny hole and made of counters and high stools suitable for a no-more-than-half-an-hour meal. The food is usually very nicely prepared. Big portion, et al. My favourite is the crispy noodle with seafood gravy (below), which boasts a greaseless and well textured nest of egg noodle toppled with an assortment of springy prawns, tenderised squids, distinctly flavoured fish balls and crunchy veggies in sticky gravy. (Their aubergine and rice dish is also reliable). During my last visit, I also found the pan fried pork dumpling bearable. Gingery. The casing could do with more work. All in all, with a glass of tap water, comes to around £10.

 

Marie’s (Thai) Cafe

Marie's Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

Rating: 3.5/5

By day Marie’s Cafe serves (dodgy-looking) English breakfast. By nightfall it turns into a very bustling Thai restaurant (of a predominantly white crowd). The cooking is far from bad and reminds me very much of a home-cooked Thai meal. Say, when your Thai friends (who can cook) invite you over for a home feast. This place captures that very well. Decent-sized portion. No dish costs more than £6.50. The flavours are almost there (see, “friends” aren’t professional chefs) and not uncompromisingly westernised. There is only one version of som tam (papaya salad) there and it comes sans papaya. Very much like a zingy, fiery Thai slaw. This is not unauthentic as in Thailand you always get cabbage as a side to your som tam anyway. Chicken Massaman featured perfectly cooked chicken breast slices. The curry was hot enough but lacked tamarind acidity. I DIY-ed my flavour by pouring a little of the som tam juice in. Not tamarind but it would do. Squid Prik Khing was alright. Finely scorched and tenderised squid was sauteed with hot, gingery sauce. It would be nicer without the bell peppers, as they made the dish a little too Chinese for my liking. These three dishes with a hearty bowl of steamed rice and a bottle of water came to £20. It could feed two.

Indian YMCA

Indian Ymca on Urbanspoon

Rating: 3/5

This vast cafeteria at Indian YMCA looks as if it never receives a refurbishment since India gained its independence. It also runs strict opening hours. The food – mostly curries – is pre-cooked and left on hot plates, so it’s best to go at the beginning of their service. Dirt cheap. A table-ful of lamb, goat, chicken, fish curries, two rice dishes, onion bhaji, two mango lassi and one bottle of water came to £11. I don’t have a fine knowledge in Indian dishes but I found the lamb and the goat well simmered in hot gingery curry with subtle tomato acidity. Moist meat. Both dishes oozed a perfume of clove and bay leaf. The fish curry was lighter in taste but the fish itself was too dry and too cooked. The onion bhaji (as we got there end of service) had already lost its crispy-ness. Mango lassi was vibrant and tasted as if they could be priced at £4-5 at any other Indian gaff. An okay meal for the price.


The addresses to note…

Stick & Bowl

31 High Street Kensington
London
W8 5NP

Tel. 020 7937 2778

Marie’s Cafe

90 Lower Marsh
Waterloo
London
SE1 7AB

Tel. 020 7928 1050

Indian YMCA

41 Fitzroy Square
Fitzrovia
London
W1T 6AQ

Tel. 020 7387 0411

www.indianymca.org

c1
comments 4

MY 2012…

Happy New Year to You All ^_^

My 2012 started with a cancelled holiday, a lukewarm winter, a depressingly lukewarm washer-dryer, a cat that shuns me and no bloody decent restaurant opened during those festive days. No resolutions. Not too much to look forward to in 2012, apart from the grand opening of Pitt Cue Co., the arrival of Barrafina in Covent Garden and a handful more of restaurants, such as Mari Vanna, Dabbous, Lima, and Bubbledogs. I predict the street market scene prevails, and very much so for burgers, steaks, and quite possibly, fried chicken. There will be more veggie-oriented places to counter that trend. Small portions will still be in. Fine dining chefs will serve less jus and will plate their food in the same manner as Rene Redzepi. Ethnic food – Asian in particular – will never move away from being stereotyped and Asian supper clubs will be the ones (for me) to look out for. That said, I feel Latin/South American might be the new thing for 2012.

There will be more trips (for me). I have kindled interests in Russia, Central Asia and towards the East. Moscow, St Petersburg, a few places in Japan, China, Vietnam and Burma are on my agenda. I look into wandering into North Korea, too. For Europe, I will be scouring not-so-mainstream regions and exploring more of Scandinavia, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. By the end of 2012, I will try making it to all The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. There will be more trips, weirder food .. and The Skinny Bib will (fingers crossed) metamorphose into “something”.

2011 in Few Words..

Before all that to happen, this is my quick 2011 round-up..

To start. I ate dogs. I ate cocks. I ate raw chicken. The latter came from Bincho Yakitori, the super restaurant that dares push all the boundaries for those up for it. I caught my own fish, sampled blowfish and found the taste not at all deadly. I made friends with a great handful of amazingly cool food enthusiasts. I even woke up early to travel with one. The “woke up early” will not happen again. I also had the fabulous opportunities to stuff myself at CC and many world’s destinations. I have learned to book tables a year ahead, though I spent 10% of my life on auto redialing but failed to snatch a table at Keller’s popup. I also spent another 5% of my life figuring out a new and less confusing rating system but only came out with this lame one. I still insist on being among the first reviewers of restaurants.

… it was definitely an eye-opening (or mouth-opening?) year and it would have been a lot less fun without you lot to share all these exciting things with  >__<

I’d also like to extend my best wishes to these 10 eateries that, despite their being old or new, I consider (un)advertised powerhouses of my London existence and have made my 2011 a superlatively indulgent year…

In no particular order…

Roganic… exciting food. Excitingly friendly flocks. And, mind those ceiling lamps!!
Opera Tavern… inventive food. Relaxed glam. Hot boys. Greatest neighbours. And don’t forget the Iberico Foie Burger :-9
Sushi of Shiori… an out-of-this-world sushi gloryhole. Thoughtful creations. If walking in is not possible, there is a takeaway option.
Big Apple Hot Dog… the hot dog pimp that gets London well stuffed. Now mobilizing between two locations.
Gauthier Soho… bonker chef + cute French twinks = comfortingly gay elegance. Also London’s most budget Michelin starred.
Barrafina… a real Spanish bustle that never dies down since its first opening. Best tortilla.
Dinner by Heston… a place that oozes warmth and charm. Occasional celebrities. No pretense.
Beirut Express… the BEST Sherwarma and many other great things. (Just turn blind eyes on service).
Hawksmoor Seven Dials… the best burgers & lobster roll in London in my book.
The Heron… uncompromising Thai (with distracting karaoke and horrifying retro disco look).

Apart from this, I instantly crave for Beijing Dumplings from Jen’s Cafe, Beef Pelmini and Truffled Salad Olivier from Bob Bob Ricard, Mac & Cheese from Spuntino, Wagyu & Truffle Sushi from Zuma, Duck & Foie Gras Borek from Quince, Pickled Herrings from Goodman’s, Eggs Benedict from The Wolseley, Madeleines and ejaculating Custard Doughnuts from St John, Wagyu Slider from CUT, Afternoon Tea from Espelette/The Connaught Hotel, Peking Duck from Min Jiang and Chicken Rice from Old Town 97. And, before I sound like I do not eat vegetable, I love Mushroom and Walnut Miso Udon from Koya very much.

And the most exciting of London 2011!?

Alex McKechnie!!… the superstar mixologist who came up with many super quirky, innovative cocktail and food pairings at Viajante Bar. (He has left, but Viajante & The Corner Room still rock). There will be more coming from Alex so check his site..

 

 

2012.. BRING IT ON  :-D

IMG_1621
comments 4

101 Thai Kitchen: What Should You Do at This Thai Institution?

What is in the name.. ?

All Thai food connoisseurs in London must have at some point been to 101 Thai Kitchen in Stamford Brook. Yet, despite its institutional status, the name of the restaurant is often misunderstood. Some fa-rangs (as Thais call Caucasians) righteously assume 101 portends elementary Thai cooking. They are quite wrong…

101, pronounced Roy-Ed in Thai, is the name of a province in Thailand’s (rather far) North East/ Isarn where the majority of dishes on the menu originate. These include your usual spicy salad favourites of Larb and Som Tam, sticky rice and Weeping Tiger. What’s more, if you enquire or read the menu closely enough, you will also find that the current head chef comes from the South of Thailand and has brought with her the heated vibrancy of Southern favourites – many fish, curries and Islamic influences. And for the sake of those regional cuisines, 101 Thai Kitchen is a worthy foodie destination.

Pushing boundaries

The Thai menu at 101 Thai Kitchen could be the most extensive and detailed in London. It not only boasts a decent translation of dishes but affords precise description of ingredients and cooking methods. There are many rare, authentic creations and seasonal dishes written in polychrome on the blackboard. But, like many other Thai restaurants, 101 also serves usual Thai favourites of Pad Thai and Green Chicken Curry, and while those dishes are not bad, you can have them cooked better at other Thai restaurants specialising in Central dishes. (Thai Rice, Addie’s and Patara came to mind)

Now. The tricky bit. After many trips to the restaurant I never scored good photographs and I will recount my overall experience there instead of merely writing a one-off review. First, bear in mind dishes are not small. Second, there is a star-rating system for chilli seasoning. 1 star – the level I always go for – gives you an authentic tingling sensation. 2 star will make your lips burn. 3 star? You are likely to poo fire the next day. If unsure, you can easily ask for the “usual” Thai heat. Third, the unique offerings at 101 – Northeastern and Southern dishes – are always spicy and it’s unlikely you can ask to have the heat toned down.

Fourth?

If you have a stomach for adventures, go for these dishes. They are my all-time favourites.

Kloui Kling Neua – a minced beef stir fry dish with a fine paste of lemongrass, garlic, ginger and kaffir lime. Salty and spicy. It is one of the hottest on the menu as there are usually a lot of green peppercorns hidden underneath the aromatic beef. Do note that heat from peppercorn comes alive much more slowly than chilli heat but it lingers. Tom Kreung Nai Wua is a sour, spicy and amazingly herbed broth of tripe, liver and intestines. Thais always clean them well and smother herbs on to kill the foul smell. I also love Sai Krok Isarn, a kind of fermented Thai sausages infused with rice and served grilled. They don’t look too dissimilar to English sausages. And Plar Plah Style Lao, a Laotian crispy fish salad with sweet chilli dressing and ground rice. For the most unique Southern experience, I usually go for Goong Pad Sator, which was absolutely stinky. Basically, it is a prawn stir fry dish with smelly, edamame-like beans and Malaysian-style Sambal. And I finished my meal off with silky and sweet Mor Gaeng Peuk (Taro Custard with Fried Shallots) and pungent Durian Ice Cream with Thai Condiments.

Which Thai in London?

101 or The Heron? Perhaps the ultimate question. And to answer it as bluntly as possible, I choose The Heron. The latter is just NOT so damned far as Hammersmith. When there are crossovers on the menu, I feel The Heron can do it more boldly and balanced. That said, the menu at The Heron is shorter and focuses more on North and Northeastern. No smelly beans, in other words!

And a quick Thai round-up for you all (will keep this updated)..

All Round Best Thai – Thai Rice Portebello
Best for Fine Dining – Nahm
Best for (Cheap) One Dish Food – The Heron
Best for Noodle Soup(s) – Thai Rice, Addie’s or The Heron
Best Northern – some dishes at @Siam
Best Northeastern – The Heron
Best Central/Bangkokian – Addie’s Thai (very good!), Patara or Suda (acceptable hygienic Thai “middle-class” flavours, not street food)
Best Southern – 101 Thai Kitchen
Best Desserts – Nahm (really one of the kind for Thai desserts in Europe)

Hope this helps :-D

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “6.5 out of 10″.

101 THAI KITCHEN

352 King Street
Hammersmith
London
W6 0RX

Tel. 020 8746 6888

www.101thaikitchen.com

101 Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

IMG_3498
comments 3

Khaosan? Kaosan? Which K(h)aosan?

What’s indeed in the name? Or, in this case, the spelling?

One afternoon. A Twitter exchange between me and @MarinaMetro led to an earth-shattering discovery – she told me of course – of a Thai restaurant called Khaosan on Chepstow Road, Notting Hill. This mustn’t be confused with another Kaosan – also a Thai restaurant – in Brixton, which received a raving review by Jay Rayner. “H” or no “H”? Is there a rigid formula to Thai phonetic transcription? There isn’t. You can even spell “Khaosarn”, “Kaosarn”, whichever way you’d like as long as you know of the location you are heading and the menu you peek at online comes from your destination restaurant..

So, earth-shattering?

I was told.. Khaosan (with an “H”) is run by the team behind my ghetto, no-nonsense Thai grub The Heron. Enough to tickle my taste bud and curiosity.

A few buses later..

I was there. Very quiet street. A pink restaurant. That was some statement. Inside it was slightly run down, not to the extent of a retro-disco interior of The Heron. Very quiet restaurant. Locals only seemed to flock for takeaway.

The menu was not aggressively niche. There were curries. There were stir-fried dishes. Just like other Thai restaurants. The less conservative dishes could be, say, deep-fried marinated duck’s tongues. I settled for some usual dishes (for the other bib) and non-stereotyped ones (for me). Fish Ball Salad (1). A dish that could be missed. Very couth chilli and lime kick jostling with a medley of celery leaves, crunchy red onions, carrots and juicy cherry tomatoes. The balls were not distinctly fishy but had decent texture. It also wasn’t spicy enough. Grilled Tumeric Chicken (2) was staggeringly large and put Nandos to shame. The most delicious of all the dishes ordered. Tender meat with perfuming herbal aroma. Perfectly charred. Served with two kinds of dipping sauce: the fiery “Jaew” of fish sauce and dried chilli powder and the mellow sweet chilli sauce.


Red Chicken Curry (3) was commendable and almost authentic (if it weren’t for red chilli being substituted by red bell pepper slices). Fragrant holy basil nicely infused in a medium heat, velvety curry. Pearls of pea aubergines added a contrasting bitter taste. The chicken, sadly, was overcooked. Stir-Fried Crab Curry (4) was delicious. Crispy soft shell crabs revived by this omelette-like sauce of egg, milk and curry powder. A bit of heat, onion-y sweetness and tomato acidity. A megalomania of flavours. Shamed they could have made more effort draining the oil off the soft shell crabs.

Fit to burst…

Fortunately, my last dish of “Hor Mok” AKA steamed fish curry (5), which is a variation of Burmese fish amok, was bad. Badly cooked fish. The coconut milk was not thick enough, inexpertly cooked and distressingly curdled. No flavour whatsoever penetrated fish chunks. The dry banana leaves that encased the “Hor Mok” appeared abhorrent. I didn’t feel obliged to finish it.

It was an okay meal. Huge portion. Good value for money. Authentic flavours. Not piquantly, offensively Thai. Some non-stereotypical dishes. Many highlights, but with some intriguingly bad cooking. I could go back..

.. on a second thought I might not.

The meal did not thrill me. Khaosan is definitely a local restaurant. Not a destination. I’d rather hop off the bus half way to Notting Hill for my Heron!

Enough said,

My head rating says, “7.5 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “6.5 out of 10″.

KHAOSAN

108 Chepstow Road
London
W2 5QS

Tel. 020 7221 9984

www.khaosan.co.uk

Khao San Thai on Urbanspoon

IMG_5808
comments 14

Suda Rice Bar: Thai Street Memories in Covent Garden

Recently when the words “Thai” and “street” are mentioned, my heart heaves and my aching memories of anti-government protests in Bangkok rush back. I somehow stop associating Thai food simultaneously with street, so my two trips to Suda Rice Bar did bring back some good memories of Thai street and specifically of Rama I Road, of Siam Square, in Bangkok.. …why?

Just ’cause.. Suda Rice Bar would fit into that downtown area of Bangkok very well. Owned by Patara Group, Suda is a fresh take to Thai dining. A relaxed, contemporary brasserie/cafe. Brightly lit. Utterly urban. A kind of place that has the character of a restaurant in large and luxurious department stores. Not Westfield.. but Thai ones. Siam Paragon or Central World, maybe? You can either pop in for a quick grub and leave or hang around for drinks and a good laugh. Familiar dishes to Bangkokian urbanites. Clinical flavours. Not particularly chilli-fied as middle-class Bangkokians are not as much receptive to heat. Yes, there is Thai food that is not spicy!

Back in London and at Covent Garden’s fashionable quarter St Martin’s Courtyard, Suda Rice Bar charms me with the price tag that I would classify as cheap. Most expensive dishes do not soar above £9.95, and the portion is huge. The menu – too lengthy for my liking – features many popular Thai street nibble (stereotyped but re-presented with some twists) as starters, soups, variations of papaya salad, many noodle dishes and curries.

Free. Sweet potato crisps. Toasted rice crackers. The green ones were caramelised with lemongrass; the brown ones with tamarind. Thoughtful touch so I could take time choosing what dishes to order!

Starters..

Pra Tud Poo Jah (1) Long, skinny firecracker-like rolls deep filled with deliciously seasoned crab and mince pork. Came with sweet chilli dip. Chicken Wings (2) arrived deep-fried with Thai herbs. Crispy? YES!! Herbal? No. Good quality and good value as they were, they lacked the pungent herbal infusion that the menu promised. Chicken Satay (3) There were four skewers. Superbly marinated and grilled to perfection. I could smell the aroma of coconut milk coupled with curry powder. The already smeared peanut sauce facilitated eating. The Ar Jad – cucumber relish – could do with more acidity from rice vinegar and some red onion slices. A great dish, nonetheless. Kor Moo Yang or Grilled Pork Collar (4) was the best I have come across in the UK!! Tender. There was this sumptuous proportion of meat and fat to create a melt-in-yer-mouth effect. The Jaew dip – chilli paste with fish sauce – was salty with a polite hint of chilli working to balance off the sweet skewers. Miang Goong (6) was this canape of big, springy prawn on a bed of rice vermicelli and baby gem lettuce. Served with piquant sweet chilli vinegar dressing. I would have like a smaller piece as ideally you should be able to eat it in one go without struggling to hooving all the elements into your mouth. Kuay Tiew Lui Suan (7) disappointingly arrived as duck and herb spring rolls. The usual version would have featured a square parcel of chopped goodies to be served with fresh herbs. Here many would have mistaken it for more popularised Vietnamese spring rolls.

Som Tam..

There were a few variations but most of them were very metropolitan. Meaning? No foul elements, such as fermented fish or pickled crabs. If you fancy those, I’d re-direct you to The Heron. I went for Sweet Corn Som Tam (8) as Suda is probably the only place in London I can find this dish. Bright and colourful, the dish boast a generous combination of plumb corns, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and snake beans. Very light and healthy! The dressing lacked a peasant-ly kick and could have done with one more bird’s eye chilli.

Noodles…

Suda does a few variation of Pad Thai. This one called Ma La Kor Pad Thai (9) was deceptively made from shredded green papaya (instead of rice noodle). Very crunchy. A little too one dimensionally sweet for my liking and it was quite wet at the bottom of the bowl. Kouy Tiew Kua Gai (10) Noodle tossed with chunky chicken pieces and oyster sauce was delicious. Texture contrast from shredded lettuce and beansprouts. I would have loved to see it go all the way Thai and toppled with crunchy rehydrated squids and deep-fried dough sticks. Khao Soi (11) or chicken noodle in Northern-style curry soup toppled with crispy noodle had good, pronounced flavours. A LOT of chicken as if the kitchen had dropped a bucketful in (it’s a bonus and I’m SO NOT complaining!!). The dish would benefit from less thickness for the curry, more chilli proportion and a DIY garnish of lime wedges, red onions and pickles. Here everything was all thrown in which took away the fun of assembling the dish the way you like.

Desserts..

I was immensely impressed. A lot of dishes I have never seen on the Thai menu anywhere in London and my childhood favourite of Oh Nee Paeh Kuay (Taro Mousse with Ginko Nuts)!! That said, they seem to run out of dishes quickly..   :’(

I ended up with Mango Sticky Rice (12). Good but not groundbreakingly amazing. Slightly bruised mango slices. Appetising perfume of coconut milk on a warm bed of sticky rice, which when I tasted, the flavours did not let me down. Black Sesame Dumplings in Ginger Syrup (13) had the feisty gingery heat that I had long yearned for. Bouncy texture from the dumplings that were leaking sesame puree. Ideal for cold weather. Sticky Rice and Coconut Ice Cream (14) was also a real Thai treat. Creamy coconut milk ice cream sat on a scoop of sticky rice. Toasted peanut garnish and fresh coconut flesh added texture and dimension. I don’t mind eating this one over and over!

That was pretty much IT.. my two meals at Suda Rice Bar. Many dishes were well executed, while others border on being okay. I particularly admire the restaurant’s courage to put Thai dishes – a few of which aren’t at all spicy!! – that are yet popularised in the UK and break away from the stereotype of Thai food. I hope this risk-taking will pay off as I do taste a lot of Thai authenticity in these dishes. Urban Thai, as I have explained, and strictly not from those dilapidated Thai tin-roofed eateries and unlicensed hawkers western backpackers are used to.

 

But…

 

 

…if you are in search of fiery Thai with bold herbal infusion, Suda won’t give you that!

 


 

Enough said,

My head rating says, “7 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.

SUDA THAI

23 Slingsby Place
London
WC2E 9AB

Tel. 020 7240 8010

www.suda-thai.co.uk
Suda on Urbanspoon

IMG_9350
comments 46

The Heron Pub: Unpretentiously Thai

Gosh, have I mentioned it to you that I deleted lots and lots of my photos for the Thai meals in London before uploading them? If not, I am now telling you this. There were a couple of restaurants that are so damned good – say, 101 Thai Kitchen (Hammersmith), Khao Sarn (Brixton) and Thai Rice (Notting Hill) – but I couldn’t be arsed to go back and reprise the meals just yet. It’s a little different with The Heron, a very traditional English pub just off Edgware Road, and I did manage to return to the place in just a matter of weeks so I could publish this post.

The Heron.. if you are only after booze, you walk straight in.

BUT, if you’re in for Thai food, you walk in and take the steps down to the basement. There you’ll find a Thai karaoke lounge (again) that serves food. Decor-wise, the basement looks very much like a nightclub in the early 90s – multi-coloured cushions, paint that is coming off the walls, reflexive patches on the ceiling and round paper lanterns instead of the glitzy disco ball. The latter isn’t much of the 90s but a bizarre Thai addition. As it is a karaoke lounge, there are also two big TV screens and many amplifiers. This is different from Addie’s and Thai Taste where the dining rooms were separated from the basement karaoke bars. The Heron basement is usually noisy, and the music? Good or bad, Thai or English or Korean?

… It all depends on the nightly song requests.

The menu at Heron comes as a laminated card, a “traditionally Thai” menu format in the country’s non-touristy areas but definitely not in Bangkok and NOT in London. There are many North Eastern salad dishes, which the kitchen here specialises in, many bar nibbles, many soups and sour curries. If you’re familiar with, say, a stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts, a green curry, or even, a pad thai, you won’t find it in this basement!! The pricing is kind as most dishes do not soar above £9.

There is another more intriguing menu boasting its bulky-ness akin to the wine list at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. This is the karaoke menu. You order by writing the songs and codes in paper and they’ll get them ready for you.

We skipped this..

Food? Dishes usually takes time to arrive. Don’t expect a first, second, third course served in that order. This is a Thai restaurant. Thai way of serving. Dishes come as they are ready. Started with Deep Fried Duck’s Tongues. Crispy & well marinated in fish sauce before the deep fry which resulted in delectably salty note. Served toppled with fragrant fried shallots and chilli sauce. Sai Oua – AKA Northern Pork Sausage – was not fresh but still delicious. Meaty, spicy and well-smoked. Probably one of the spiciest dishes on the menu. The side of tossed peanuts helped take away the heat.

Crispy Catfish Mango Salad – Yum Pla Duk Fuu in Thai – was incredibly authentic. An iconic dish. I never came across it anywhere in the UK. The fluffy catfish was flaked and deep fried for the perfect cloud shape and immense crispy-ness. Sweet lime and chilli dressing balanced off the flavours well. Generously refreshing toppings of green mango batons and roasted peanuts. The Papaya Salad with Salted Eggs was heavenly. The sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours were well paired. Spicy but it wouldn’t burn your knob off. That said, the Papaya Salad with Fermented Fish – Som Tam Pla Rah in Thai – was a Marmite dish and pure joy of taste bud masochism. It was HOT and I was spitting FF-II-RR-EEEE!!!!!! The foul smell of fermented fish might be an issue for westerners as it is for many urban Thais. You wouldn’t see the fish pieces; only the juice from the fermenting process was used to season the salad.

It stinked… a bit.

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup – Tom Klong Gai Baan in Thai – was lovely. Thais use chicken joints rather than pure meat for this sort of dish (beak to feet cooking, I’d say!) and they also do so at The Heron. Sharply sour flavours from poached cherry tomatoes and lime juice to be complimented by the chilli fire and the smashing freshness of aromatic herbs. Sour and Spicy “Orange” Curry with Cod Roe – Gaeng Som Kai Pla in Thai – was quite heavy compared to my favourite dish of the similar kind at Thai Taste. Authentic but not a winner dish.

Steamed Prawns with Vermicelli – Good Ob Wun Sen in Thai – lacked bold seasonings the other dishes had. That said, it became a superb “cooling” dish for my fiery feast. Just before we finished, the people next to us had started screeching out of tune and head-banging. The chilli must have done something to the brain, so they could (apparently!) sing like that sans alcohol >_<

And I finished with this Steamed Bread with Pandan Custard – Ka Nom Pang Sang Ka Yar – not the best but it sufficed. The bill came to £96 with two portions of sticky rice, one steamed rice and a big bottle of water. A real steal for the authentic Thai flavours, without having to go as far as Stamford Brook, Brixton or Portebello Road, and there was no mark-up for the karaoke and the entertainment of randomness. That said, it might be best to grab a Thai friend to go to The Heron with you, the clientele was 98% Thai and you might feel like an odd one out X

A couple of months after this meal I returned with Su-lin from Tamarind and Thyme, so do check her post HERE as we ordered different dishes ;)

Enough said,

My head rating says, “9 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “9 out of 10″.

How authentic? 9/10!!

THE HERON

Norfolk Crescent
London
W2 2DU

Tel. 020 7724 8463

Heron on Urbanspoon

 

The translation of the menu is here (and hope Thai peeps won’t ostracise me from the restaurant!).

IMAGES
(Left to Right, Top to Bottom)

Larb Moo (Minced Pork Salad, Lime and Chilli Dressing, Roasted Ground Rice); Gaeng Som Cha-om Khai Gung (Sour and Spicy “Orange” Curry with Prawns and Prawn Roe); Goong Chae Naam Plah (Prawn Ceviche with Chilli, Garlic, Lime & Fish Sauce); Liin Ped Thod (Deep Fried Marinated Duck Tongues); Yum Ta Lay (Sour and Spicy Poached Seafood Salad); Som Tam Khai Kem (Papaya Salad with Salted Egg)

MENU SUD PI SED
(Left Column)

Super Tom Teen Gai (Boiled Chicken Feet)            £12
Khao Pad Pla Kem (Fried Rice with Salted Fish)            £8.50
Pla Meuk Kai Kem (Stir Fried Squids with Salted Eggs)             £10

OTHERS
(Right Column)

Steamed Rice £2
Sticky Rice            £2.50
Rice Vermicelli            £3
Noodle            £3
Deep Fried Pork Rinds             £3
Tua Tod (Fried Peanuts)                        £4
Med Ma Muang (Sautee Cashew Nuts)            £5
Yum Tua (Peanut Salad)             £5.50
Yum Med Ma Muang (Cashew Nut Salad) £6.50

 

 

CHEF RECOMMEND

(Left Column)
Soup Nor Mai  (Shallow braised pickled bamboo shoots with chilli & lime)            £8
Kai Yiew Mar Kra Pow Krob (Fried Century Eggs, Minced Pork, Crispy Holy Basil)                        £10
Kah Nar Moo Krob (Stir Fried Thai Broccoli with Crispy Pork)            £8
Gaeng Som Goong Kai Cha Om (Sour “Orange” Curry with Poached Prawns and Bitter Leaf Omelette)             £12
Pla Duk Pad Chah (Stir Fried Catfish with Herbs)                        £12

(Right Column)
Pla Sea Bass Louy Suan (Steamed Sea Bass with Chilli and Lime)            £17
Poo Nim Pad Kee Mao Kra Pow Krob (Stir Fried Soft Shell Crab with Chilli and Peppercorn, Crispy Holy Basil)             £15
Kah Nar Pla Kem (Stir Fried Thai Broccoli with Salted Fish)            £8.50
Poo Nim Pad Kleui Prik Tai (Stir Fried Soft Shell Crab, Salt and Pepper)   £15

SOM TAM – LARB – NAAM TOK

(Left Column)
Som Tam Thai (Papaya Salad, Dried Shrimps, Peanuts)            £6.50
Som Tam Poo (Papaya Salad, Salted Crabs)            £6.50
Som Tam Pla Rah (Papaya Salad, Fermented Fish Essence)            £6.50
Som Tam Poo + Pla Rah (Papaya Salad, Fermented Fish Essence, Salted Crab) £7.50
Som Tam Thai + Poo (Papaya Salad, Dried Shrimps, Peanuts, Salted Crabs) £7.50
Som Tam Kai Kem (Papaya Salad, Salted Eggs)            £7.50
Som Tam Kor Moo (Papaya Salad, Grilled Pork Neck)             £8
Som Tam Moo Yor (Papaya Salad, Vietnamese Pork Sausage)             £8
Som Tam Goong Sod (Papaya Salad, Poached Prawns)            £8
Som Tam Poo Mar (Papaya Salad, Blue Swimmer Crab)            £8.50

(Right Column)
Tam Taeng Poo Dum (Cucumber Salad, Salted Black Crab)             £7.50
Tam Taeng Poo + Pla Rah (Cucumber Salad, Salted Crab, Fermented Fish Essence)            £7.50
Larb Moo (Minced Pork Salad, Lime and Chilli Dressing, Roasted Ground Rice)            £8
Larb Neui (Minced Beef Salad, Lime + Chilli Dressing, Ground Rice)            £8
Larb Gai (Minced Chicken Salad, Lime + Chilli Dressing, Ground Rice)             £8
Larb Ped (Chopped Duck Salad, Lime + Chilli Dressing, Ground Rice)            £8.50
Larb Pla Duk (Minced Catfish Salad, Lime + Chilli Dressing, Ground Rice)            £10
Larb Pla Sea Bass Tod (Deep Friend Sea Bass Salad, Lime + Chilli Dressing)  £17
Nam Tok Moo (Salad of Pork Fillet, Lime + Chilli Dressing)            £8
Nam Tok Neui (Salad of Beef Fillet, Lime + Chilli Dressing)            £8

 

LOUK – YUM

(Left Column)
Moo Ma Nhao (Thinly Sliced & Poached Pork in Garlic, Chilli & Lime Dressing – similar to ceviche)     £8.50
Goong Chae (Prawn Ceviche in Garlic, Chilli, Lime & Fish Sauce Dressing)   £8
Yum Huu Mooh (Sour and Spicy Salad of Boiled Pig’s Ears)     £8
Yum Louk Chin Goong (Sour and Spicy Salad of Prawn Balls)    £8
Yum Sai Taan (Sour and Spicy Salad of Pig’s Intestines)    £8
Yum Woon Sen Moo Sub (Sour and Spicy Glass Vermicelli Salad with Minced Pork)    £8
Yum Woon Sen Tah Lay (Sour and Spicy Glass Vermicelli Salad with Poached Seafood)     £8.50
Yum Leb Meur Naang (Sour and Spicy Salad of Boiled Chicken Feet)    £8
Yum Nhaam (Sour and Spicy Salad of Sour Northeastern Sausage)    £8
Yum Moo Yor (Sour and Spicy Salad of Vietnamese Pork Sausage)   £8
Yum Kor Moo Yaang (Sour and Spicy Salad of Grilled Pork Neck) £8.50

(Right Column)
Yum Ruam Mitr Tah Lay (Sour and Spicy Salad of Poached Seafood)   £8.50
Yum Plah Meuk (Sour and Spicy Salad of Poached Squids)   £8.50
Yum Plah Duk Foo (Crispy Catfish Salad with Fresh Mango and Sweet, Sour, Spicy Dressing)     £12.50
Yum Poo Mah Doang (Sour and Spicy Salad of Pickled Blue Swimmer Crabs)   £15
Yum Khai Yiew Maar (Sour and Spicy Salad of Century Eggs) £8
Yum Khai Kem (Sour and Spicy Salad of Salted Eggs)    £8
Plah Luok Jiim (Poached Fillets of Fish with Chilli & Lime Relish)   £12
Tah Lay Luok Jiim (Poached Selection of Seafood with Chilli & Lime Relish)    £12
Hoo Moo Luok Jiim (Boiled Pig’s Ears with Chilli & Lime Relish)    £8
Hoy Ma Laang Phu Oob (Steamed Mussels)    £10

NEUNG – OOB – TOM YUM

(Left Column)
Tom Saab Kra Douk Moo (Spicy Pork Rib Clear Soup)    £12
Goong Oob Woon Sen (Steamed Prawns with Glass Vermicelli, Soy, Ginger and Celeries)   £10
Plah Sea Bass Neung Ma Naow (Steamed Sea Bass with Lime, Garlic and Chilli)   £17
Tom Yum Gai Baan (Sour and Spicy Soup of Free Range Chicken)     £12

(Right Column)
Tom Yum Goong (Sour and Spicy Prawn Soup, Sweet Chilli Relish, with or without coconut milk)    £12
Poh Taak (Clear Sour and Spicy Seafood Soup)     £12
Gaang Som Paeh Sah Plah Sea Bass (Sour and Spicy “Orange” Curry with Sea Bass)    £17

 

 

AR HARN TARM SUNG (£1 EXTRA WITH FRIED EGG)

(Left Column)
Khao Kai Jiew Moo Sub (Minced Pork Omelette with Steamed Rice)    £6.50
Khao Kai Jiew Pooh (Crab Meat Omelette with Steamed Rice)   £7
Khao Moo Kra Tiem (Stir Fried Pork with Garlic and Pepper, with Steamed Rice)    £7
Khao Phad (Fried Rice with a choice of pork, chicken or beef)    £7.50
Khao Phad (Fried Rice with a choice of prawns or crab meat)   £8.50
Khao Phad Nhaem (Fried Rice with Sour Northeastern Sausages)   £8
Khao Phad Poh Taek (Fried Rice with Sour and Spicy Seafood, Herb Mix)   £8.50
Khao Phad Tah Lay (Fried Rice with Seafood)    £8.50
Suki Haang/ Naam (Thai Style Suki Yaki as Stir Fry/ as Soup with a choice of pork, chicken or beef)   £8
Suki Haang/ Naam Tah Lay (Thai Style Suki Yaki as Stir Fry/ as Soup with Mixed Seafood)   £8.50

(Right Column)
Phad See Iew Moo/ Gai/ Neui (Thai Style Dry Ho Fun, Sweet Soy Sauce, with a choice of Pork, Chicken or Beef)   £8
Phad See Iew Tah Lay (Thai Style Dry Ho Fun, Sweet Soy with Seafood)   £8.50
Raad Nah Moo/ Gai/ Neui (Thai Style Ho Fun with Sticky Gravy with a choice of Pork, Chicken or Beef)  £8
Raad Nah Tah Lay (Thai Style Ho Fun with Sticky Gravy with Seafood)   £8.50
Khao Tom Plah (Rice Soup with Fish)   £8.50
Khao Tom Goong (Rice Soup with Prawns)   £8
Khao Tom Moo Sub (Rice Soup with Minced Pork)   £8
Phad Kra Pao Moo Krob (Stir Fry Crispy Pork with Chilli and Holy Basil served with Rice)   £8
Phad Kra Pao Moo/ Gai/ Neui (Stir Fry Pork/ Chicken or Beef with Chilli and Holy Basil served with Rice)  £7.50
Phad Kra Pao Goong (Stir Fry Prawns with Chilli and Holy Basil served with Rice)  £8

TOD – YAANG

(Left Column)
Louk Chin Goong (Fried Prawn Balls)   £6.50
Sai Krok E Sarn (Northeastern Sour Sausages)   £7
Sai Oua (Northern Sour and Spicy Smoked Sausages)   £8
Sat Taan Tod Kra Tiem (Deep Fried Pork Intestines with Garlic)   £8
Liin Ped Tod (Deep Fried Marinated Duck’s Tongues)   £8
Kor Moo Yaang (Grilled Pork Neck)   £8

(Right Column)
Peek Gai Tod Naam Plah (Crispy Fish Sauce Marinated Chicken Wings)  £8
Peek Gai Yaang (Grilled Chicken Wings)   £9
Moo Daad Diew (Sun Dried and Salted Pork)   £8
Neui Daad Diew (Sun Dried and Salted Beef)   £8
Plah Nin Tod Jiim Jaew (Deep Fried Fish Fillets with Chilli and Fish Sauce Relish)   £12
Plah Sea Bass Tod Jiim Jaew (Deep Fried Sea Bass Fillets with Chilli and Fish Sauce Relish) £12

THERE ARE USUALLY SPECIALS ON THE BOARD…

Enjoy XXX