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Although takeaway Thai food might be a familiar crutch after a busy working day, Thai New Year is an excuse to treat yourself to a slap-up, sit-down meal meal and break from the norm. From modest hidden gems to popular upmarket eateries, London has no shortage of Thai restaurants to choose from – and Square Meal has rounded up some of the best.
You’ll want to loosen your belt when you catch a glimpse of this bustling Thai restaurant’s flavourful menu. With enticing dishes such as fishcakes spiked with chilli, lime leaves and earthy fish sauce (pictured), or char-grilled beef matched with a pungent hot-and-sour dip, there’s definitely no lack of sizzle at this eatery. Don’t forget to save space for the house dessert – creamy, sticky rice adorned with juicy mango.
The interior may need a facelift, but the low prices and quality of food keep Esarn Kheaw in the game. Starters such as homemade Thai sausage or bamboo-shoot salad – two Esarn specialities – are priced under £5, and even most of the traditional curry and noodle dishes stay below the £10 mark.
The contemporary decor may not represent the vibrancy of Thai culture, but the flavours in the menu embody the zest of the country’s cuisine. For a taster of several dishes, opt for the £6.90 lunch boxes – with combinations including roasted-duck red curry, chicken with peanut sauce, jasmine rice, and fresh fruit, they’re quite the bargain.
This family-run eatery doesn’t offer much in the way of frills – especially if you’re seated at one of the tables in the car park – but the authentic flavours and friendly staff have helped boost Kaosarn’s popularity all the same. The only dish that leaves you no change from a tenner is a delicious marinated and grilled half-chicken, served with sticky rice and green-papaya salad. A second branch can be found in Battersea.
Black-clad waiters equipped with earpieces show diners straight away that a meal at the cavernous Mango Tree is not your average Thai-food experience. But don’t fret – friendly staff, leather banquettes, and a cocktail menu just add to the experience, even if you just stick to your usual plate of pad Thai.
The lovely view of Hyde Park and the classy traditional Thai decor contribute to the steeper prices here, but the dining experience is worth the bill. The menu mixes traditional dishes and chef specials – such as crispy chicken wings with minced prawns and sweet chilli sauce – all prepared by a well-established kitchen team.
Foregoing clunky wood furniture for sleek tabletops, and traditional paintings for bright splashes of pink and red, Ora adds a new twist to the exoticism of Thai cuisine. In addition to the general favourites, the menu boasts contemporary twists including guinea fowl cooked in coconut-curry sauce, plus a drinks menu with over 20 fun cocktails.
For casual, affordable grub, Rosa’s two branches (in Soho and Shoreditch) offer something for everyone, from stuck-in-their-ways solo snackers who want to chow down on a familiar green chicken curry, to adventurous diners who can tuck into interesting salads and specials such as fish satay.
This Covent Garden café and restaurant offers guests an overflowing menu of traditional Thai dishes and a contemporary, two-floor eating space for lunch and dinner. Whether you eat alfresco overlooking St Martin’s courtyard, or watch the chef in the open kitchen whip up your chicken satay, the menu is tempting and more than affordable.
This chic, dark wood-panelled Fulham restaurant prides itself on its service, although the food has garnered helpings of praise too. Try dishes such as the plah tuna salad (thinly sliced tuna dressed with lemongrass and fresh-mint vinaigrette) for authentic south-east-Asian flavours presented in creative original dishes.