On a recent trip to Edinburgh, I fancied some Thai food for some reason and we were lucky enough to find this place very close to the castle. My experience of Thai food in this country has generally not been all that good, but I'm pleased to say this was an exception. The food was very fresh and tasty and the service was excellent.
The restaurant can be found just off the top of the Royal Mile on Johnston Terrace, where it apparently moved in 2005 from another location. It is about 2 minutes walk from the castle and is also conveniently close to theatres.
Having been re-established on this site in 2005, there wasn't really much of an excuse for poor decoration, and it really didn't disappoint. The front of the shop is mainly glass, but as you go in through the door, you are faced with a board against which a Buddhist statue is placed - it sounds simple, and it is, but it really is very effective. I also liked the lighting, which consists of wooden frames on which the electric equivalent of tealights are placed. The tables are very well spaced out, which I liked because the restaurant was quite full and I really didn't want to overhear other people's conversations.
I was so impressed with the food the first time we went there, that we went again a couple of nights later. The menu wasn't particularly different from most Thai restaurants, but there was a wide selection of dishes, including curries, stir fries, noodles and seafood dishes. There was also the choice of two banquets for just over £20 for a minimum of two people. Vegetarians are in luck here becaushe there was a wide selection of vegetarian dishes rather than the token vegetable curry you get in many Thai restaurants.
We tried a variety of dishes, but the piece de resistance had to be the Pad Thai dish. Often Pad Thai (flat noodles stir-fried with meat/fish and vegetables and sprinkled with peanuts, chilli and lime) can be overly sweet - in this case, it was just right and the taste of lime complemented the prawns beautifully. That was the only dish we tried with seafood (my partner isn't keen), but apparently seafood is a good choice here because it is brought in locally on a daily basis.
Another excellent dish was the Gai Pad Grapow, an old favourite of mine, which is basically minced chicken stir fried with Thai basil and fresh chilli. The restaurant owners, a Thai family, claim that they use the freshest of local produce mixed with spices imported directly from Thailand - this I can believe because everything was beautifully fresh, but tangy from the lemongrass, lime and basil that was used to flavour it. We also tried the Gaeng Pa, which is a very spicy curry - we tried beef. It was spicy, which was great for me - I love spicy food and all too often restaurants that claim to cook spicy food dilute it for western tastes, which I no longer have.
The only slight disappointment was the starters. We chose a mixed starter, which included satay, pork ribs, chicken wrapped in leaves and prawns wrapped in rice paper. They were very tasty, but I could tell that they had been prepared in advance and left out for a while. We didn't complain because everything else was so fantastic, but in hindsight, perhaps we should have.
There is a fully licenced bar at which everything I could think of was available. We stuck to Tiger beer - I love the taste of Asian beer, especially when accompanied by Asian food. There was a fairly extensive wine list as well.
I really couldn't fault this. There were two waitresses, perhaps not enough for a busy restaurant, yet they managed to provide speedy service with just the right amount of attentiveness. We were asked if the food was to our satisfaction and I really felt that the waitress asking really cared about our response.
We managed to get in both times without booking because we were quite early. However, we were the last to get in without booking - most of the tables were booked in advance and as it seems to be such a popular place, I would really recommend booking first.
The toilets were very clean with a selection of soaps to choose from. I can imagine wheelchairs may have difficulty getting into the toilets (although not to the restaurant itself).
Well, it is central Edinburgh, so it is never going to be cheap. Prices for starters began at £4.50; main courses were in the region of £8 and over. This seemed fairly consistent with London prices and we ended up paying £50-£60 each time we were there. However, when taking the quality of the food and service into consideration, I think it was well worth it.
I love good food and we certainly got it at this restaurant. I doubt I will be going back to Edinburgh for a while, but when I do, I will certainly look this place up - in the meantime, I highly recommend it to any of you visiting the city.
Written by sunmeilan