Thai

KOLAE

6 Park Street, London SE1 9AB

Seven years after Mark Dobbie and Andy Oliver duo opened som saa in Spitalfields, they’ve opened their newest spot, Kolae, in a three floor site (including a courtyard) in Borough Market. The focus is on grilled dishes and kolae (also known as Golae, Galae and Gaw Lae), a cooking technique found in the south of Thailand where ingredients are soaked in a curry-like coconut marinade before hitting the grill. Highlights from the menu include fried prawn heads with turmeric & garlic; kolae mussel skewer with calamansi lime; kolae chicken bamboo skewer; sour mango salad with dried shrimp & roasted coconut; southern gati curry of seasonal whole fish; and pandan sticky rice, young coconut sorbet & jackfruit. As for drinks, there’s concise menu of imaginative cocktails made using Thai ingredients – hello pickled green mango dirty martini – around 15-20 wines from Modal and a handful of beers and ciders.

KORAT THAI CAFE

Korat Thai Cafe in Newington Green is s one of the best Thai spots we’ve discovered in London. It’s got a big menu but we wade through the more crowd-pleasing dishes to find some gems like the Yam Khao Tod, a crispy rice salad with fresh herbs and leaves, peanuts, chillies and kaffir lime; the Larb Gai, a minced chicken salad with herbs, rice powder, chillies, and fish sauce; the Som Tum, a classic papaya salad (though this could have been a bit spicier); the Sai Krok Isan, the fermented sausage from northern Thailand, made with glass noodles, chillies and pork; and Khao Soi (curry chicken noodle soup), which might just be the best one we’ve had outside Thailand. We’re very impressed with Korat, it’s proper Thai cooking the likes of which you don’t find all too often in London and the £2 corkage just seals the deal. A friendly team too, so we highly recommend it on every level.

CHET'S

Following on from a successful four-month residency at Rondo la Cave in the basement of The Hoxton in Holborn, ‘LA Thai’ spot Chet’s has moved into another Hoxton (in Shepherd’s Bush), this time permanently. Created in collaboration with the creator of LA’s NIGHT+MARKET, Kris Yenbamroong, Chet’s blends Americana with Thai flavours. Kris’ unique brand has been inspired by his childhood spent working in his family restaurant, Talesai, which was the first mainstream Thai restaurant in LA, as well as his background in the arts. At Chet’s, this manifests itself as dishes like bodega sandwich with sai uah sausage, egg and cheese; pineapple rice; tuna melt with ruffles and pickles; Chet’s smashburger with American cheese, pickle, and thousand island sauce; firecracker lobster noodles; and bloomed tingling 5 spice onion. The cocktails, like the Holy Chet! (a holy basil and vermouth swizzle), and the Thai-ami Vice (a sharing cocktail served in Chet’s full moon bucket alongside a bottle of champagne), are just as punchy.

CHER THAI EATERY

After 14 years running Thai kitchens across London, chef Att and his partner Air opened Cher Thai Eatery just before lockdown in 2020, and it has since become one of Clapham’s best neighbourhood joints. With dishes like deep-fried whole seabass with tamarind sauce, river prawn glass noodles, krapow gai kai dao, larb chicken salad, tom kha soup, and yellow curry noodles, it’s the place to come when you want a real taste of Thailand.

SPEEDBOAT BAR

30 Rupert St, London W1D 6DL

They turned up the heat (literally) with Plaza Khao Gaeng in Arcade Food Hall and now Luke Farrell and JKS Restaurants have returned for round two with Speedboat Bar. The restaurant takes inspo from Bangkok’s Chinatown and the speedboats that race along the canals of Thailand, so it’s fast, furious and full of energy, including an upstairs clubhouse featuring a bar, pool table and speakers blasting Thai pop and turbo folk. Wok cookery and dishes like drunken noodles and stir fries are at the heart of Speedboat Bar, alongside the likes of tom yam mama soup; ash melon & aubergine curry; poussin with ‘chicken rice, soybean sauce’ & red roast pork; cashew nut, pork crackling & dried fish salad; and pineapple pie with purple taro ice cream. Wash it down with drinks like the Snakesblood Negroni, and the Jelly Bia made with frozen Leo Lager, and you’re guaranteed a good time.

101 THAI KITCHEN

Touted as having some of the best Thai food in London, 101 Thai Kitchen is a relatively unassuming spot in Hammersmith with an extraordinary menu. While not super low-key (prints of Thai nobility adorn the vibrant pink walls), the interiors are pared-back so you can spend more of your attention on a bowl of panang curry or their signature pla plaa style lao. Priding themselves on being ultra-authentic, 101 Thai Kitchen make it clear that there’ll be no westernising here, just straight-up, well-made, delicious Thai classics with beer to wash them down.

PLAZA KHAO GAENG

Plaza Khao Gaeng is the new Thai restaurant on the mezzanine level of JKS Restaurants’ reimagined Arcade Food Hall, and it’s defo one for the chilli fiends out there – if you’d don’t like serious chilli heat, this probably isn’t one for you. The place has been designed to recreate the feeling of classic Thai ‘khao geng’ (meaning curry over rice) eateries, with bright strip lighting, blue and white table vinyl table covers, and dishes served in metal trays. It certainly has a whole different feel compared to the more polished Arcade kitchens downstairs. The menu is a fairly short, sharp line up of Southern Thai dishes and you’ll want to aim for 3 – 4 dishes between two people. The Klua Kling Muu – a ‘dry’ curry of fried minced pork, southern curry paste, chillies and long pepper –  comes with the biggest heat warning from the servers and it is properly hot, hot, hot. The Gaeng Gati Gai, a creamy coconut chicken curry with betel leaves; and the Pad Phed Pla Krapong, two fillets of sea bass with chillies, makrut lime leaves and wild ginger, are much lower in spice, so you can give your mouth a break from the fire.

ULI

5 Ladbroke Rd, London W11 3PA

Asian fusion joint ULI is a real neighbourhood gem. It’s been around the block, first coming onto the scene in 1997 and their twists on Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean favourites has kept ULI as a staple for locals and visitors for years. We love the Thai sea bass fillet steamed with chilli and lemongrass and the stir-fried beef fillet with spicy black pepper sauce, again with lots of red chilli, is also a beaut – sticky parcels of juicy meat drenched in a sweet and fiery sauce. For great, simple Asian food in Notting Hill, ULI is a great shout.

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SINGBURI

593 High Rd Leytonstone, Leytonstone, London E11 4PA

Singburi is the type of place you just have to know about because unless you’re a Leytonstone local, you’d likely never come across it. It’s cash-only, BYOB and the service is relaxed to say the least (you’ll probably have to ring multiple times to try and book a table, and you’ll definitely have to repeat your requests for water once you’re in there). It’s all worth it though because this little joint is serving some of the best Thai food in town – and at ridiculously reasonable prices too. The main menu is full of the classics, all very well done, but you’ll want to focus on the specials blackboard here. The moo krob (crispy pork belly) is a must, and if you see it chalked up on your visit, you can’t go wrong with the whole steamed seabass with ginger and shiitake mushrooms or the beef short rib curry. SO GOOD.

BUSABA

Busaba Covent Garden, Floral Street, London

For the times you want casual but quality Thai food, you just can’t beat Busaba. Their menu includes everything from avocado and Asian hot mint salad to guinea fowl stir-fry to red mullet, pineapple and betel leaf curry to snake bean som tam. PLUS they’ve not forgotten about vegans either, with the likes of sriracha ho fun noodle, superfood yam pak and pumpkin green curry.

THE BEGGING BOWL

168 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4BW

Inspired by Buddhist traditions and all the provinces of Thailand, The Begging Bowl serves up a short but varied menu featuring dishes such as smoked mackerel, pomelo, galangal and peanuts in betel leaf; deep fried whole seabass with green mango and tamarind and chilli caramel dressing; turmeric, black pepper and braised pig cheek curry; and charcoal grilled celeriac with peanut curry and pickled ginger. It’s a real local fave so it’s defo one to check out when you’re down Peckham way.

ROSA'S THAI CAFE

246 Fulham Rd, London SW10 9NA

Rosa’s Thai Cafe has sites scattered across London and all we can say is… keep them coming! The serve up the Thai classics we’ve come to know and love, including pad thai, tom yum, massaman curry and drunken noodles, and the Chelsea branch is the first one with its own bar so don’t skip the boozy Thai iced tea.

SOM SAA

43A Commercial St, London E1 6BD

Som Saa is all about regional Thai dishes made using a mix of seasonal British and authentic Asian produce. They’re famed for their Bangkok HOT som tam but everything packs a serious punch here – the whole deep fried seabass and northern style herbal curry of Dexter beef shin are ESPECIALLY delish. The Thai inspired cocktail list is well worth a look too, you won’t see drinks like those many other places in town.

KILN

58 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9TL

It was named the UK’s best restaurant at the 2018 National Restaurant Awards and we can confirm that Kiln defo lives up to the hype. The food is inspired by the Thai borderlands, including Burmese and Yunanese spices and flavours, and there’s lots of cooking over an open fire. The jungle curry of brill is a winner (and spicy too) and the clay pot-baked glass noodles are an absolute must-order too.

FARANG

72 Highbury Park, Highbury East, London N5 2XE

Sebby Holmes earned his stripes at some of the best Thai restaurants in London, including Begging Bowl and a stint as head chef a the original (now closed) Smoking Goat in Soho. Now at Farang he’s cooking up modern Thai grub, with dishes like crispy duck wontons with plum dipping sauce;‘Miang’ – minced prawn in betel leaves; and braised beef cheeks with mustard greens. The weekend Drunken Noodle menu sounds pretty epic too, especially the eponymous ‘Drunken Noodles’ – a tea smoked duck breast stir-fried with pak choi, sweet basil, wild ginger, chilli, garlic and flat rice noodles.

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SMOKING GOAT

64 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ

After setting up shop in Soho, Shoreditch is now the place to come for smokey, BBQ Thai food inspired by the grub you’d get in late-night canteens in Bangkok. We love their freshly made rotis, goat krapow, turmeric crab curry and lardo fried rice. It’s all a world away from cheap pad thai and prawn crackers and has been part of a wave of restaurants that woke London up to proper Thai food.

THE PEPPER TREE

19 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AB

Nestled in and amongst a row of coffee shops and pubs on the south side of Clapham Common, the Pepper Tree is a neighbourhood gem offering its customers a variety of Thai dishes. You can expect super speedy service, a menu to suit those who love spice and everything nice and food served from brekkie to dinner. All bases covered. Tables are communal, it’s aptly decorated green and red (the colour of peppers, duh?!) but the best thing about this place is its value for money with big dishes of creamy curries, spicy stir-fried meats and steamy soups for under a tenner. For neighbourhood Thai dining in Clapham, it pays to go to The Pepper Tree…

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