We all know that I like thai food, I mean heck I even go to Mango Tree for a serve of awful service along side some tasty lobster pad thai. Anywhere, any time, in any state, I can always go a pad thai. So months ago, when I first saw the queues of people outside Busaba Eathai in Soho, my curiosity peaked at the wondrousness that lay within. I mean, there are so many thai places around, not to mention my favourite Siam Central a mere five minutes away. Why the queue? They had me (and my curiousity), but my patience was yet to be persuaded.
But here’s a secret. I found out (well, actually, I should have just looked on the website but thanks Charz and EuWen for helping my little brain out with this one) that Busaba Eathai actually has two more branches, all within a stone’s throw from Soho, serving up the same food minus the queue. Gold! Is anyone gonna tell those guys in line in Soho? Actually don’t. This is a good secret.
So last weekend, stocking up on nutrition before our three hour dose of Inglorious Basterds, Panu and I dropped by the Store Street branch. They don’t take bookings but for a party of two, we were seated straight away. Screw you, queue!
This being our first time at Busaba Eathai, we stuck to the usual: a curry, a pad thai, some rice and a starter. We don’t have a usual starter, so I decided to get something a little adventurous ~ prawn pomelo with peanut, served on a betel leaf. The taste was great – tangy and spicy – and the textures worked well with the betel leaf. It was kinda teeny tiny though, and I reasoned with myself that hey, this is the starter *oink*, but alas, it was a sign of things to come.
Pad thai is our benchmarking dish. We like it with chicken, which is usually on the menu, and if not its a simple request to swap out prawns for chicken (we’re saving the restaurant money, no?). So here’s a first – Busaba Eathai didn’t have chicken pad thai and when we asked if we could please have chicken instead of prawns, they said no. No? Why? Oh, it’s cooked with prawns. Oh. So we had it anyway, but does that strike anyone as odd? What, do they have a giant vat of pre-cooked prawn pad thai out the back?
But anyway, catty the food police aside, their pad thai tasted good. While some say it’s not hard to have a good pad thai, in our vast experience with this dish, oh boy believe me, it can be bad, very very bad. This passes our benchmark, but again, on the small-ish side.
The curry choice for the night was a red lamb curry with lychee and cherry tomato. I actually really liked this dish, the lamb so tender it dissolved on my tastebuds and the lychee and coconut infused red curry was the perfect concoction of sweet and spicy. Again, not quite enough but at this stage, I wasn’t panicking. There’s always dessert to top up an almost complete meal, right? Right?
Busaba Eathai DOES NOT HAVE A DESSERT MENU. I can’t even begin to express how wrong that is. In fact, when we asked for the dessert menu and were told “we don’t have one, but we have drinks” (that’s a WTF on it’s own, what’s dessert got to do with drinks), I unceremoniously yelped “what? WHY?” at the waiter who in a flash of momentary panic, spat out that line about drinks.
I was inconsolable for several minutes until I realised I could have an extra tub of Ben & Jerry’s at the movies.
But seriously, a restaurant, to me, loses masses of brownie points for not serving dessert. How hard is it to at least pretend to serve dessert – keep three tubs of ice cream in the freezer and charge a ridiculous £5 for two scoops. Is this the business idea of the century or what? Because believe me, some idiot (me) would have totally ordered that.
22 Store Street
London, WC1E 7DF
0207 299 7900