The thought of Thai food conjures up fragrant aromas of lemongrass, coriander, galangal, chilli, coconut cream and kaffir lime leaf.
Those bold flavours paired with Thailand’s famous nam pla (fish sauce), fresh vegetables, succulent chicken, mouth-watering prawns or rich beef give you a true taste of Thailand. Thanks to fertile soil and ideal weather, Thailand is abundant in fresh ingredients – not least the Thai jasmine rice without which no Thai meal would be complete – and recipes have been handed down through generations.
Today, Thai food continues to grow in popularity, winning the hearts of discerning diners around the world, and especially in London. There are now approximately 15,000 Thai restaurants across the globe – so how do you make sure you pick the right one?
Thai Select’s certification guarantees the authenticity of Thai restaurants and Thai food products that have been prepared with proper ingredients and spices in traditional Thai style. Wherever you travel, always look for the Thai Select stamp of approval to ensure delicious food in a great atmosphere with famous Thai hospitality – it’s not just a meal, it’s a journey into Thai culture.
London boasts a fantastic range of great Thai restaurants to suit every pocket. To make the right choice, look for the Thai select logo. Here are five of our favourites.
This hip Thai canteen offers a constantly changing line-up of amazing Thai small plates based on exhilarating flavour combos shot through with full-throttle herbs and spices. Try the piquant little fishcakes, sticky, umami-rich pork belly, caramelised tiger prawns in lime leaves (so good you may end up ordering them twice) or the show-stopping whole sea bass, lavishly sprinkled with slivers of green mango, deep-fried chilli, Thai shallots and toasted rice. Throw in a children’s menu and all-weather terrace and you have the perfect local.
168 Bellenden Road, SE15 4BW
Farang’s Seb Holmes has worked at some of the most influential names on London’s Thai scene, including Smoking Goat and Begging Bowl. The small menu of his first solo restaurant manages to incorporate something for all palates, from a broodingly meaty curry of coconut-braised, butter-like beef cheeks, to a slap-you-round-the-face jungle curry: an energetic, spicy concoction of fresh Cornish fish, supremely fishy sauce and bitter baby aubergines. The large, low-key dining room is convivial, prices low and the mostly young troupe of staff effortlessly charming.
72 Highbury Park, N5 2XE
With a sister hotel in Bangkok, authenticity is a given at the flagship restaurant of the Royal Lancaster hotel, which combines traditional Thai food with a very English view over Hyde Park. The menu of classics might be familiar – tom yum soup, fishcakes, spring rolls and satay, followed by curries of different colours, pad thai noodles and hot and sour salads – but superior ingredients and chefs who care about what they’re cooking keeps the Thai repertoire as fresh as the artfully carved plates of fruit.
Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, W2 2TY
The flagship branch of the upmarket Patara chain (which also has branches in Hampstead, Knightsbridge, Oxford Circus, South Kensington and Wimbledon) has none of the usual Thai clichés of sitting Buddhas and wood carvings. Instead, there is a contemporary palette of neutrals accented with feature lights and modern art. Innovative twists on tradition include pad thai tossed with lobster tail, or massaman curry made with fall-apart lamb shanks. Fragrant Thai flavours crop up in unexpected dishes too, with tofu slices glazed in tamarind and lemongrass, before being pan-fried and sprinkled with crisp shallots – one of many great veggie options.
15 Greek Street, W1D 4DP
Chef Andy Oliver’s Som Saa sets pulses racing with its fiery regional food and lively warehouse setting. Oliver trained with the legendary David Thompson of Nahm fame and his calling card is authentic northern Thai cooking, producing flavours unfamiliar to most Londoners. Start things off with yum khamin khao (a prawn and peanut salad with fragrant white turmeric and ka-jorn flowers) then keep the heat up with a gutsy braised beef yellow curry spiked with chilli relish. For afters, squeeze in a grilled banana with salted palm-sugar ice cream or head to the bar for cocktail classics reimagined with hard-to-find Thai ingredients.
43a Commercial Street, E1 6BD
To see the full list of Thai Select restaurants, visit www.thaiselect.com or download the Thai Select App from the Apple App store and Google Play.
Look for authentic Thai cuisine, look for a Thai Select restaurant near you.