Thai food in London has undergone a transformation of late, one so welcome and so tasty. Out has gone the fluorescent pink and green curries and the teeth aching sweetness of identikit pad thai. In its place, hyper-regional, no compromises cuisine of which you would find in the legendary street food stalls of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and beyond. Here are our 5 ideal places to eat real-deal, Thai food.
It’s become something of a cliché – earn fans through supper clubs and pop-ups before crowd-funding your way into permanent premises, but Som Saa did this well-trodden path in some style. 700 000 pounds was pledged by friends, fans and financers and a place on a busy, central London street secured. It’s no wonder this place is so good – the two chef/founders were schooled by Thai food deity David Thompson – and it shows. Flavours are bold but balanced, ingredients often rare or unheard of and spice prevalent and assertive. Arrive early and enjoy a drink at the bar, there’s a no reservations policy which causes quite the queue – but snacks are available while you wait, and trust us, that wait is well worth it.
Address: 43A Commercial St, London E1 6BD, UK
A brilliant central London spot for chef Ben Chapman’s take on assertive, bold Thai cuisine with an emphasis on over-coal cooking. The signature dish from which the restaurant takes its name is a tangle of smokey, spicey delight, but the supporting cast is just as special. It’s also a great place to drink beer, and the food lends itself to their great selection of local crafts. Read our full review of the Smoking Goat.
Address: 7 Denmark St, London WC2H 8LZ, UK
The second restaurant from the aforementioned Ben Chapman, Kiln is quite the spectacle, with bar seating overlooking flames, coals and clay pots. The vibe transports you right out of central London and to somewhere altogether hotter and more rustic. The food is great, with the mackerel red curry a particular favourite. The signature claypot noddles with brown crab have become near-iconic in the restaurant’s so far short life. We would be very much surprised if this is the last offering from the team – they are on somewhat of a roll.
Address: 58 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9TL, UK
Located on Peckham’s foodie mecca Bellenden Road, the Begging Bowl uses Thai street food to form gorgeous small plates of fire and zest. The building is beautiful and airy, adding to the buzz this place generates even on a weeknight. A real treat.
Address: 168 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4BW, UK
Rosa’s Thai Café
A London institution, with slightly more familiar and accessible Thai staples, Rosa’s Thai Café also offers cooking classes which are incredibly informative and hands on. There’s also a cookbook with beautifully photographed renditions of classics and an easy-to-follow writing style for when you are brave enough to attempt this amazing cuisine in the comfort of your home.
Address: 48 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 5BF, UK