Last week we were invited to eat at one of Nottingham’s newest Thai Street Food restaurant offerings, Thaikhun (pronounced Tycoon). Thaikhun has taken up residence in the new Foodie area of the redeveloping Victoria Shopping Centre, in the area around the old Clock Tower which, for so many years, was the slightly sad side exit to the Centre. The clock tower area is now in the process of a full revamp soon to be home to lots of new eateries, some already open, others planned. There is an astonishing number of new restaurants opening in the city, it will be interesting to see which ones survive the course. My money is on Thaikhun being one of the survivors.
Thaikhun is one of a small chain of outlets in the UK – with a fascinating back-story of the characterful owner (who we were delighted to meet at the official opening a couple of weeks ago) which takes you from her home in rural Thailand to a street-cart in Bangkok and then to the UK and now on to opening her 6th restaurant). Great to see a charismatic woman succeeding in the restaurant business…..just saying.
Thaikhun is a “themed” restaurant, with all the decor and “props” imported from Thailand to recreate the chaotic, colourful and lively streets of Bangkok, with tables on a variety of levels, little hidden mezzanines, and below-level smaller dining rooms creating intimate and private spaces as well as communal eating areas. There is an open kitchen, with engaging chefs (difficult when you’re stressed and trying to get 100 covers out in full view!) and a large bar, even the loos keep the theme going with open pipe work and fly posters on the wall.
Don’t balk at the fact that it is “themed” because it works, we loved the spaces and the buzz it helps generate.
We started with prawn crackers and washed our dishes down with Singha beer.
Our starters, presented on raised platter (think witch’s ducking stool by Ercol furniture ☺️) were Thai Fish Cakes (balls really), Chicken Spring rolls, Honey Pork and Salt and Pepper squid.
The spring rolls were hot and fresh, the honey pork was sweet and tender, the Fish Balls tasted properly of fish and the squid, well the squid was to die for. How many times can you say that? Most squid served in most places in the UK is frozen, rubbery, limply battered hideousness, even, in my experience, near the coast some places seem to mess up the squid. Not here, it was hot, salty and melt in the mouth. I could eat this as a main course. Sublime.
The Husband chose the Gaeng Som, as his main – a regional specialty from the South of Thailand, a complete deep-fried Gilt-Head Bream in a sour curry, our server suggested we had coconut rice alongside. The rice was light, fragrant and flavoursome, the Gaeng Som, however, was something else.
The presentation of the fish was fabulous, although deep-fried it was served swimming in the beautiful tangy broth in its own traditionally Thai fish-shaped heated platter, the theatre of its arrival (which thrilled us both) wasn’t as amazing as the fall-off-the-bone, beautifully cooked and flavoursome fish, however, which was fantastic. This was an entire fish – head, tail, skin, bones – it looked as good as it tasted. I kept asking the Husband if he was sure that the dish wasn’t designed for two (it isn’t – so if you order this, make sure you are hungry)
I ordered the Phad Thai Gai, a house-recommended dish made using Kim’s (the owner) mother’s recipe. The dish comes with chicken or an option to choose prawns. I chose the prawns and, with hindsight, I should’ve stuck with the chicken. The dish was lovely, (and huge!) but for me the prawns were slightly over done and therefore a bit chewy. This may just be me, as I do like my shellfish only just done but still this was the only (very) slightly disappointing element of the entire meal.
I sat staring at the dessert menu for ages, the banana fritters were calling me but it was impossible to consume any more food and still get up from the table.
Thaikhun is great, the servers were fabulous and never stopped smiling, the Thai greetings welcoming you and wishing you goodbye are a lovely touch, our server Sy (is that right, I really hope so 😳) was lovely and couldn’t do enough. I wish this restaurant all the very best of luck, but I don’t think it will need it, great location (even an outside terrace for the summer), great decor, professional staff, fabulous food and a great mid-range addition to the Nottingham restaurant offering. We will definitely be returning.
Kop Khun Kha – Thanks guys!