Thursday, 25 June 2009

Thai Rice

By enlarge I eat anything ‘cept apricots, chicken heads, snakes, and both Korean or Thai cuisine. Korean, because I find it to be hopelessly otiose but as for Thai, the reluctance only applies to outside Thailand itself. My quibble with Thai food in this country is down to my close friendship with a group of Thai friends who are either seasoned chefs or involved with the restaurant industry in Blighty. Thai cuisine is right up there with the likes of French, Italian, Chinese, and Indian cooking as being the best in the world. But unfortunately the Thai that we get in this country is too well tempered, unbearably toned down and whether you like it or not, it’s also outrageously approximate. True I do accept the fact that if a 100% authenticity is applied to the menu, it might prove too much for most Brits, but my exposure to the real thing has simply created a huge scepticism on paying for a Thai meal in this country. As par exemple most of us have become so accustomed to ‘our’ kind of green curry that the real McCoy will more than likely turn each one of us into a human Vesuvius. So this is one of those pain in the butt reviews that is written by a self declared smartish alec who has been there and done that; everything else including your favourite neighbourhood Thai is therfore faux.

Alas all of my Thai buddies have returned back to Bangkok save Pik. (The majority of Thais have simple one-syllable nicknames like A, O, Lek, etc to offset their long and linguistically challenged first names) A notorious fact involves asking a Thai person like where’s the best place for Pad Thai in London, the answer is always ‘why, but I cook my own!’. Amidst waitressing at a Thai restaurant in Putney and studying for an MA in business studies I decided to ask Pik a hypothetical question of supposing her fridge broke down on a day when all the supermarkets were closed, where would she go to satisfy her craving for Thai food*. Ever so reluctantly she mentioned Thai Rice and only go for the stuff she wrote below.

Came here first on my own for lunch. A Wednesday, and the place was packed. No sign of Thai diners, ominous.

Proceeded with an Iced Thai Tea
Holy Assam leaves, it looked more like a larva lamp. Despite the fear of all things related to radioactivity, it was refreshing. Condensed milk is de rigeur in this brew, sweet and beautifully sickly.

Kuey Teow Nam Tok
This is a classic Thai streetfood; in Thailand the stock is made with pig’s blood, think liquid black pudding (erm…wimps, no worries as Thai Rice have omitted this ingredient altogether for obvious reasons [damn]). My option came with pork meatballs and liver. This sweet, spicy and sour (tamarind) soup noodle was wonderful. Although I would have preferred to perspire more as an evidence of authenticity, I still recommend it.

Takeaway supper of Chicken Pad Thai
Together with the curries, this dish defines Thai cuisine. Sweet, spicy, raw beansprouts, fluffy scrambled omelette and crushed peanuts. Very good.


Second visit, Sunday dinner with MsMarmitelover (are we not an item yet?) and rich boy ‘bout town, KC.

Larva lamp again and Grass Jelly Juice
MML loved the Sudan orange stuff so much, she had two. For those inquisitive horticulturists, the grass jelly hails from mesona chinensis; I loved it but others may find it too acquired.

MML’s Tom Kha Mushroom
This photo is rated 12A.

The blokes’ starters of Moo Ping and Sai Qua
The former is skewered and marinated pork fillets- tender but too sweet. The latter is Thai sausages- texture and form not too dissimilar to our bangers, but unashamedly super spicy and excellent tasting.

Som Tum Thai
Papaya salad- disappointing, lemon juice used instead of limejuice (I can tell I’m a foodie nonk), devoid of bird’s eye chilli and not pungent enough due to too little fish sauce implemented. Pik, I’m claiming for this dish!

MML’s Vegetarian Green Curry
I found this too sweet and child-like mild. Poor.

Yen Ta Pho Talay
Noodles in pink soup- the colour comes from the addition of red beancurd. This one dish meal comes with fishballs, tofu, squid and wonton. Sweet (familiarity breeds…) and spicy, I must say that I enjoyed the dish and I will order it again.

Fish Cake
Poor perceived value and unfortunately pretty average tasting as well.

There are two things that one should take note from this review. Firstly the Thais use a lot of sugar in their cooking, some peeps reckon that they include it as a replacement to MSG; so most dishes are inherently sweet. The second thing is if I do come back and I’m sure that I will, I’ll stick to the special noodles section for lunch only.

The service at this place was great and unlike their Vietnamese contemporaries in the Eastend; the young lads working here were hardly cocky but genuinely helpful and efficient. Personally I find that Esarn Kheaw, way out west, is more in line with the term Real Thai, in the meantime the quest goes on and I might as well confirm that Thai Rice is now my neighbourhood fix. Recommended only with Pik’s shortlist.

*Pik’s first reply to the question and rather immediate I may add, was Wong Kei. Thai restaurant workers only dine out on Chinese and her favourite dish is beef brisket with rice! There you have it, bubble popped.

303 Portobello Road
W10 5TD


Anonymous said...

you really need to try 101 thai kitchen, but make sure you order food off either the specials board, or the isaarn stuff at the back.

Hollow Legs said...

Oh dear, still no decent thai food then. Damn.

(I love grass jelly)

kerstin said...

Loved the iced tea but the rest was just too sweet and, you are right, not enough chilli and lime.

Anonymous said...

OK, I feel really stupid about this but I have to ask. What does the scrubbed out "by enlarge" thing mean? I see it in a lot of your posts but I don't get it.

I've also heard good things about 101 Kitchen.

bellaphon said...

Anon & Ginger- I will give 101 a go and thank you both for passing and relaying the tip-off.

Lizzie- I'm a fussy git when it comes to Thai. Grass jelly is perfect for the summer. Enjoy Ibiza!

MML- I just wish that the Thai joints here were as consistent as their Vietnamese counterparts.

Ginger- By and large, bellaphon needs to go back to school. You're not stupid, I'm the fruitcake. Some time ago I read on a food blog that advises on writing rules that are the be all and end all; that infuriated me and so I decided to rebel and write badly instead. This blog thus stands out from the rest. There, there.

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