Dinner At Thaikhun, INTU Victoria, Nottingham
It’s always exciting to hear of new eateries opening, and I love nothing more than being invited along to have a nosy around. Thaikhun is already open in Manchester and is opening its doors to Nottingham tonight, but my little flock were invited to one of their soft opening nights earlier in the week. All I can say is that you are in for a real treat, dear readers. Let me try and give you a little taste of what delights you can expect when you pay Thaikhun a visit.
The concept of the restaurant is to bring you an authentic experience of Thai street food with all its hustle and bustle. The interior is really great with mopeds; “dial” phones, old style portable T.Vs, and stand alone upright fans providing a real retro feel. All the lights had their wiring coiled along the thick Bamboo struts that formed a lattice across the unfinished ceiling, and flags were draped around the restaurant with strings of small lights that gave it even more of a street feel.
Even the Lavatories carried on the theme with their fly posters layered on the walls and the unfinished wood panels that made up the stalls. The taps had their copper pipes exposed, maintaining the raw street feel, although the hand-dryer was a very powerful, high-tech affair you’ll be glad to know. The table condiments had plastic dome covers over them which are very much in keeping with the street stalls in Thailand to keep bugs off.
Our server, Hannah D, came over and took our drinks orders and left us to peruse the very extensive menu. We had a basket of Prawn crackers to nibble on whilst we made our choices; Chickadee had the lightly marinated and deep fried Chicken wings with chilli sauce and The Man Bird and myself shared the Sukumvit 38 platter.
The platter had Salt and Pepper Squid, Fish cakes, Chicken Spring rolls and Honey Pork on it. My Chicks wings were very nice she said; there was plenty of meat on them and they had a slightly sweet taste from the marinade that was offset really well by the chilli dip.
Our squid was very nicely cooked so that it wasn’t tough and chewy at all and it had a great heat from the pepper and a tang from the salt, and the fish cakes were nice and firm with oodles of flavour to them. The chicken rolls were really crisp on the outside and were chock full of meat and vegetable filling and the Honey pork was superb; lovely tender pork which you could still taste as the honey coating wasn’t cloying.
There were two dipping sauces with the platter too, the more common sweet chilli dipping sauce and then some Sriracha hot chilli sauce which was right up our street. I loved the raised wooden platter too, it just looked great on the table. Hannah came to make sure we were enjoying our food and got rewarded with huge grins from us all.
For his main course The Boy Wonder had the Duck in roasted chilli stir fry (ped phad prik pao) which was slices of roast duck with chilli paste and oyster sauce with mushrooms, peppers and onions. There was a plentiful amount of moist, tender duck and the chilli and oyster sauce actually paired really well to produce a sauce with a nice amount of heat. The vegetables were all just crunchy enough to provide texture to the dish, and a portion of sticky rice finished the meal nicely.
The Chick chose fried Chicken with Coconut rice (khao mun gai tod), and the crumbed chicken pieces were lovely and crunchy on the outside. The meat itself was beautifully tender and there were plenty of the pieces on the plate; a separate bowl of chicken broth came with this dish and it had a wonderful aromatic taste to it. A timbale of coconut rice was deemed very tasty; not too coconutty, just a hint of it and she liked the fact that the chilli sauce was in a separate bowl for you to have as much or as little as you wanted.
For my main course I ordered one of the regional specials, deep fried bream with Chilli Tamarind sauce (pla samun prai), which is from the east of Thailand. The whole bream is served with a tangy salad of red onions, lime, lemongrass, palm sugar, fish sauce and ginger, then topped with peanuts, red chilli and fresh coriander. When it arrived on its metal platform, my little jaw just dropped. The dish was a total visual extravaganza and it was just ridiculously tasty, a complete marvel on the tongue. I haven’t had a dish that blew me away like this in a long time, it was superb. All the spices combined to make that rare synergy that, whilst it has plenty of heat, doesn’t have your lips and tongue tingling uncomfortably.
The small pieces of fresh, rind-on lime and the peanuts gave a marvellous crunch and texture as did the fresh lemongrass slices. As for the fish, well it was everything you want your fish to be: very flavoursome, fresh, moist, firm. It was honestly a complete joy to eat and I savoured every last bit. The ginger, fish sauce and palm sugar gave a real sweet yet pungent quality to the salad that gelled brilliantly with the other flavours. When Hannah came to check how our mains were I think we surprised her with the extent of our praise and she rewarded us with one of those wide smiles that warms your heart.
We did have to have a little rest before we could face pudding but we ordered Chocolate fudge cake (the Chicks choice), Pancake Sankaya (His Nibs) and Khao New Moon Pancakes for me. Unsurprisingly, the chocolate fudge cake lasted for about half a second and was pronounced to be fab. The Mans Thai pancakes with pandan custard and ice cream was also a taste bud champion, so that just left my selection.
Thaikhun had put their own twist on my pandan pancakes by stuffing them with sticky rice, and they were extremely moreish. The Mango sorbet was another pleasant surprise because it was made with fresh fruit, so not only did the sweetness come through, but you also got a real zingy tang too.
The entire meal was fabulous from beginning to end and we loved the street vibe of the surroundings. Every single member of staff was lovely, but our server, Hannah D, was a smiley superstar. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she meticulously came to check our food was to our liking at every course.
The Thai greetings and goodbyes that the staff gave to all the customers put you in the right headspace to enjoy the experience fully and also gave a nice conclusion to the evening as we left. This is definitely somewhere you need to go for the food and experience and is family friendly too. Hot Wings deserved ten times over for the Thaikhun team. Good luck with your official opening tonight, we know you’ll rock it :)