- Posted January 25, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Who taught you to love food?
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10 London's best Thai restaurants by Timeout London, UK
Explore regional specialities as well as a roll-call of classics at our pick of Thai restaurants. Do you agree with the choices?
1. The Heron
Located in a shabby boozer round the back of the Edgware Road, the Heron is certainly a rough diamond. Yet look beyond its busy carpets and dark, slightly dingy interior and you’ll discover some of the most authentic Thai food to be found in London. Blaring Thai pop signals the way to the diminutive basement dining room, populated almost exclusively by Thais. The kitchen specialises in north-eastern cooking, offering an impressive range of spicy salads, sour curries, stir-fries and much more.
Address: Basement karaoke room of the Heron
London, W2 2DN
Tel: 020 7706 9567
There’s no shortage of well-priced eateries in Brixton Village Market, but KaoSarn is one of the biggest crowd-pullers. The place is regularly packed inside and out with a mix of stalwart Brixtonites of all ages, and young hipsters soaking up the Market’s vibe and it deserves to be busy. The food is not only cheap, but bursting with authentic Thai flavours. As at many of the surrounding dining venues, the decor is basic, with mismatched furniture and much of the seating.
Address: Brixton Village Market
London SW9 8PR
Tel: 020 7095 8922
3. Begging Bowl
When this trendy Peckham eaterie opened in 2012, there was a flurry of excitement over its unusual menu. Instead of the more familiar Thai fare, chef Jane Alty offers Thai street food. Alty previously worked with David Thompson on his classic cookbook on that theme, which no doubt served as inspiration for her eclectic repertoire. Colour-coded by price, and designed for sharing tapas-style, the dishes include only a few of the usual suspects (Thai fish cakes, for example). The rest of the menu is built around less familiar options and ingredients, such as a rich but mellow curry featuring firm-fleshed yam bean root.
Address: 168 Bellenden Road
London SE15 4BW
Tel: 020 7635 2627
Slinky, contemporary decor, with dark wood and oversized lampshades, gives Isarn a polished, expensive image, but the menu is surprisingly wallet-friendly. Set lunches, which come in a bento box, are good value, and include a selection of spring rolls or fish cakes, curry, rice and fruit. Don’t expect authentic Thai fieriness or superb cooking, but do sample some of the more unusual dishes, along with stalwarts like curries and pad thai all stylishly presented.
Address: 119 Upper Street
London N1 1QP
Tel: 020 7424 5153
5. Esarn Khaew
For more than two decades, Esarn Kheaw has been serving up north-eastern (Esarn) Thai cooking to an appreciative crowd of locals, including plenty of expats. The rather dark dining room, complete with a mural of rice farmers and pictures of the Thai royal family, may be starting to show its age, but the cooking is as good as ever. Chargrilled beef served in tender strips with onion, coriander and plenty of lime offers a gentle introduction to the food of the region, while the finely minced catfish, anchovy and green chilli dip (num prik pla sod) with raw vegetables is redolent of fermented fish and displays uncompromising chilli heat: a dish best left to seasoned Thai food fans.
Address: 314 Uxbridge Road
London W12 7LJ
Tel: 020 8743 8930
Housed inside the Royal Lancaster, Nipa is plush and polished – just as you’d expect from a hotel restaurant. Decorous waitresses in traditional attire greet you at the door of the teak-panelled room. You’re then escorted to tables immaculately laid with white cloths and vases of fresh orchids; plump for a window spot if you can, for views of Hyde Park across the road. The menu encompasses the gamut of classic Thai cooking, including a few less-common dishes.
Address: Lancaster London Hotel, Lancaster Terrace
London W2 2TY
Tel: 020 7262 6737
The stretch of Fulham Road around Parsons Green has no shortage of restaurants: whether you’re after Chinese dim sum or German beer and bratwurst. Despite the competition, though, Sukho is constantly busy. Part of a three-strong chain that includes Suk Saran in Wimbledon and Suksan in Chelsea, it exudes elegance and charm. The dining room blends contemporary east Asian and traditional features, with detailed wooden carvings, white napery and plenty of colourful candles, making an ideal setting for a romantic meal (though a banquette by the window was just a little too squishy from regular use).
Address: 855 Fulham Road
London SW6 5HJ
Tel: 020 7371 7600
The residents of Norwood Junction are lucky indeed to have such a good local Thai restaurant. Mantanah may look unassuming from the outside, but its food is nothing like the watered-down western version of Thai cookery you often find in London. A northern dish of shredded chicken and banana blossom in coconut sauce was a riot of sour, sweet and fiery flavours. There are plenty of other regional treats to choose from too: the likes of southern red chicken curry with fresh coconut meat; esarn som tam papaya salad with salted crab or dried shrimps; and fiercely hot northern jungle curry.
Address: 2 Orton Building
London SE25 4UD
Tel: 020 8771 1148
The original branch of Rosa’s (there are now three more) is located on a thoroughfare between Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market. It plays host to a vibrant young crowd of visiting tourists and local hipsters – you may even spot the odd pooch in a handbag. The dining room is clean and contemporary, with white-tiled walls, bevelled wood panelling and red stools at each of the small tables. The usual Thai repertoire is executed well: hot and sour tom yam soup was rich with lemongrass, tangy tomato and a generous amount of seafood.
Address: 12 Hanbury Street
London E1 6QR
Tel: 020 7247 1093
10. Tong Kanom Thai
The tiny dining room of this friendly, café-like local is packed with knick-knacks and feels so cosy that it’s easy to forget the heavy traffic outside. As well as being extremely good value, the food is mostly authentic and flavoursome, with very few slip-ups. We were looking forward to sampling the gaeng pa (jungle curry), but were disappointed by the dry and tough texture of the meat and the lack of complex flavours that make the dish one of the highlights of Thai cuisine. Popular fare such as stir-fried chicken with fresh holy basil was more successful, along with a suitably hot yam nua (grilled beef salad).
Address: 833 Harrow Road
London NW10 5NH
Tel: 020 8964 5373