What’s your name for the booking?” asked the waiter, as I stood in the foyer of this smart new restaurant, a few days before my visit proper.
It’s Gail Hansen, I said, using an easy to remember pseudonym, because I’ve reviewed the other branch of this restaurant, on Brougham Place, and, you know, they might remember, even though it was six years ago.
“Could you spell your surname please?” he said. “S, O, U, T, A, R” I replied, before realising what a complete dork I’d just made of myself, not that he seemed to notice.
Then, when we arrive for the review, they’re tinkering around with our booking on the computer when “Gail Soutar, big important food writer from Scotsman” flashed up.
Maybe going incognito isn’t everything. I have never been so flattered in my puff.
"It’s pricey once you have factored in side dishes, but they are amazing"
Still, as the only ones in on a Sunday lunchtime, and what with me being so important, all eyes – eight of them, including those of owner and executive chef Cindy Sirapassorn – were on us.
Slightly squirm inducing, but a fab trio of starters detracted from that.
Chor moang dumplings (£7.50) resembled palm sized inky coloured sea anemones, each served on a tasting spoon and topped with a single chilli hoop. The filling – a finely hewn pork and king prawn mixture – was a savoury and nutty joy.
Our Mr and Mrs King Prawns (£8.25), which came with a sweet chilli dip, were in a very happy relationship, despite their fashion differences – three were clad in thick furry Cruella de Vil coats, made from textured Singha beer batter and the other threesome in a smooth crisp filo wrap. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
We also enjoyed labb tofu (£6.25) – Lego brick sized rectangles of tofu with a chilli and citrus kick, served with a pile of crumbled nuts, speckles of roasted rice, mint, coriander, chilli and various bits of greenery.
Although we ordered a main each, we shared since each offering turned out to be so unique. Their signature angel curry (£18.50) featured toasted potato nibs underneath thick slices of sirloin steak and a topping of coconutty and garlicky red curry jus, which blanketed the meat in an inch thick layer.
The fried duck leg (£15.50) was, sadly, not crispy as billed, but the meat was great, and it featured a semi opaque and fruitily zingy and slightly sour tamarind sauce.
My normai farang (£18.95) was the only option from the menu’s stir-fry list, with matchbox sized pieces of pillowy soft monkfish, halves of oyster mushroom, like the downy ears of a chinchilla, baby sweetcorn and struts of air mile heavy asparagus (very out of season, but the menu does say that “all the vegetables and herbs used in our dishes are imported from Thailand”) , all sloshed with a fragrant oyster sauce.
It’s pricey here once you’ve factored in side dishes, but they are amazing, and two were enough for the three of us. I could’ve eaten a wheelbarrow full of the steamed fragrant Thai rice with coconut (£3.25) and then refilled it with some of the steamed sticky glutinous rice (£4), which was neatly swaddled in a pandan leaf.
We thought we were done with this grainy carb, but found space for khao neow ma moang (£7.25), aka a champagne glass that was filled with black sticky sweet rice, with a topping of vanilla ice-cream and cardamom tinged mango chunks.
All wonderful. They deserve their Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide 2015, and you see why they’ve had to open a second venue to cope with the overspill from their gaff at the other end of town.
I may have blown my cover this time, but I don’t mind being conspicuous when I can get totally lost in the food. It’s going to be a 9 out of ten, courtesy of Gail Big Important Food Writer Hansen.
Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £89.45