Eating Out: Busaba Eathai

23 Jun

Last year, Andy (the fella) and I ate our way through Thailand for 25 days and ever since then we’ve been on a mission to find somewhere in London that made a pad thai that tasted like the one we had in Kanachanburi. In this tiny quiet town where we could only seem to find one street of food vendors, was this lone old man with his cart serving only one dish: Pad Thai. It was smokey, well-balanced and most of all – it wasn’t sweet like the incarnations of the dish you get in Europe (why is it orange?!). The most amazing thing was that it only cost us 20p! TWENTY PENCE!!! It was… prefect. We severely regret not giving him more money, especially after understanding our terrible hand signals to leave out the bean sprouts. So we swear to you, Kanachanburi pad thai man –  if we ever find you again, we will pay you handsomely!

So yes, on with the review. Last night we visited Busaba Eathai, another of Alan Yau’s ventures in modern asian dining (although he’s now sold Busaba on). Gotta say, the man has style. The dark wood and ambient lighting is very earthy but also sophisticated and welcoming. Although we had to queue outside for 10 mins, the mixed scents of thai ingredients and joss sticks floating out the open windows smelt so heavenly that I really didn’t mind.  The place is almost laid out like a canteen with big communal tables, which I loved as we ended up sitting next to a couple of Peruvian siblings whom we got on with so well, we all went to Zebranos after.

'Pad Thai' rice noodle with prawn, dried shrimp, tofu, egg, peanut, (NO beansprouts) and lime £7.40

Needless to say, the first thing we ordered was the pad thai. Despite how it looks in the photo, the portion was a decent size for one person with a satisfactory 5 king prawns within it. I did think it was a bit too sweet though *sigh* but maybe that’s being unfair as you can’t really compare to being in Thailand. Really though, it was a delicious dish, and we hoovered up every last bit of it.

'Morning Glory' with yellow bean, thai garlic and red chilli £5.80

On our travels, we pretty much had this dish everywhere we went. Afterall, it’s considered a kind of weed in parts of asia and grows in abundance, so it’s a shame that it costs so much over here. Busaba’s version of this simple dish was very well executed. Crunchy, tender, good portion to share and the sauce was spot on.

'Thai Calamari' with ginger and peppercorn £5.90

We also enjoyed the calamari which had much subtler flavours than expected. Andy wasn’t as keen on this, as he thought the batter was a bit on the thick side, but I quite enjoyed the combination of textures it created with the flesh of the squid.

'Thai Roti' £2.10

What is this. This certainly wasn’t the roti I was expecting to get and it made me a little sad as I was looking forward to dipping a soft, lightly fried bread into my duck curry. What we got made me think that something went wrong and the bread was mistakenly deep-fried for too long. It was chewy and hard. Bring back the real roti!

'Mussaman duck curry' with potato, peanut and onion £10.60

Having tried the duck curry at the Thai Festival in Trafalgar Square last year, I was really looking forward to having this dish again. Maybe it was the cold and huddling around a paper plate of curry which made it taste so good but it felt like this was a different recipe. The sauce was a bit too salty and strong I would say, but generally the dish was enjoyable. Big, juicy pieces of duck and soft chunks of potato were fished out keenly.
Overall, the experience at Busaba didn’t wow my tastes buds, but the ambience and buzz of the restaurant made it a pleasant experience, and we had such a great time talking to our new friends that I probably didn’t concentrate on food as much as I should have done for my first blog review! My bad. Andy tells me that he thought the one in Shoreditch was much better, so next time we’ll probably head there. It didn’t break the bank, despite looking quite busy the service was attentive and the food generally was enjoyable. As for that perfect pad thai in London… I’m still looking.
8/10
Approx. £20 per/head

Busaba Eathai on Urbanspoon

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One Response to “Eating Out: Busaba Eathai”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Eating out: C & R Cafe Restaurant « Melba's Toast - August 31, 2011

    [...] curry sauce had good punch and the roti sucked it up boootifully. They were awesome roti, unlike Busaba’s version (I’m still sure someone messed up bad on that [...]

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