Siam Central

siam_9@gallerymain

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but, as I found out last night, not fond enough to warrant a goosing. Well, an attempted goosing. (Don’t even go there.)

My friend Jamie (see Erotic Book Club) has returned for a week from his energy plant in France. To celebrate the homecoming of this most missed ami, we (myself and two friends Ben and Robert) treated ourselves to a supper out on the town – at Siam Central.

A small Thai restaurant hugging the corner of Windmill and Charlotte St, Siam Central is certainly popular with Goodge St workers. Even with a reservation, we had to wait 15 minutes before being led to our table. Set over two floors, for square metre space they’ve managed to squeeze in a hell of an amount of tables. But though crowded, as we followed the waiter downstairs and to our little spot, I decided that it wasn’t claustrophobic.

Two laminated menus were handed to each of us, one listing an array of starters and sharing combos, the other the mains and the wine. Ravenous from a hard day’s proofing travel articles, I ordered some prawn crackers, and then we also decided to share vegetable spring rolls, chicken satay and prawn toast. The boys had beers and I had a glass of white wine.

Despite two reminders, the prawn crackers never arrived (and were put on the bill), but fortunately the starters, and a sensational peanut butter sauce, forgave this blip. Piping hot but not dry, the chicken satay was wonderfully tender and the cocktail sticks on which it was served were gnawed at like bbq ribs –  any remnants of meat were ripped off carnivorously.

siam - prawn toastPrawn toast (not the elusive crackers)

Stomachs appeased but not content, we moved onto mains. I chose the chicken drunken noodles, Jamie its beef sibling, Ben – chicken drunken rice, and Robert – Thai red chicken curry.

Glutenous, thick and heart-cloggingly delicious with a chilli kick to boot, there was no chance of me getting drunk after a plateful of drunken noodles. Oh the carbs, the wonderful, wonderful carbs. Jamie too, seemed to be a fan and polished off his mountain rapidly – after which – so enthused was he – he debated on ordering the dish again!

siam - drunken noodlesChicken drunken noodles

Ben and Robert were equally pleased with their orders which, though I didn’t try, looked stomach-grumbling good. More beers and another glass of wine, tales of the continent, tales of our lost friend Flash (the one that left for Singapore, see Almond Croissants) and a lot of laughter ensued.

All was going smoothly; we’d had a great evening and when the bill arrived we were delighted to see it was a modest £70. Very smooth indeed. But then, I tried to pay. I suppose being sent to review restaurants all the time, I’d forgotten that normally this is the form, and that to pay requires money. Money which (see below) apparently I didn’t have.

siam - card declined

It was embarrassing yes, but luckily I found a £20 at the bottom of my bag and all was well again. Except that I now have just £4.29 to get home with…

But I’d had a great meal, was drunk on carbs and laughter, and as they say- memories are priceless.

siam - alice and simmo

Alice and Ben

+

Jamie and Robert

siam - jamie and rob

Food: *** Drink: ** Service: *** Price: ££

14 Charlotte St  London, Greater London W1T 2LX
020 7436 7460

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Budsara Thai Bistro

With the crazy traffic and harassed pedestrians safely behind you on the Fulham Road, you enter the calming sanctuary of Budsara, greeted by an array of smiles. Aesthetically pleasing and deceptively spacious, soft white walls overlook smart wooden tables.

The Bistro was opened following the success of its sister restaurant in Chiswick, and recently celebrated its 2nd birthday. Seating up to 70, including a separate function room ideal for birthday parties, Budsara is a golden find, with an army of loyal customers coming back time and again. In fact, spurred on by its success, Thai restaurants are popping up everywhere nearby.

That said, once you’ve demolished a shredded duck and shiitake mushroom roll at Budsara, no other outfit stands a chance. Fabulous food combined with attentive, thoughtful staff, the restaurant is a winning combination. When asked the key to their success, manager Jane Lorthong replied, ‘Providing good, authentic Thai food at reasonable prices.’ Indeed, if you are looking for value for money and an authentic Thai experience, this is the place!

Influenced by recipes from Bangkok, the dishes all have an exciting twist. The ‘Phad Kra Chai’ for example – is stir-fried sirloin of Lamb marinated in a traditional Thai spicy chilli sauce paired with “lesser ginger” culminating in a delicious oxymoronic hot, cold experience. Or the ‘Goong Chu-Chee’ – deep-fried jumbo king prawns submerged in a rich, red coconut sauce then topped with fragrant kaffir lime leaves. The result is a sensational symphony of spice, cream and citrus pulsating through the palate. With its twists, tangs and textures, Budsara sets the benchmark for Thai food; it’s simple, satisfying and bursting with exotic flavours.

The Scallops

Repeatedly overdone, underdone or bland, scallops are often a disappointment; however at Budsara, this is certainly not the case. Resting on a bed of wilted spinach, sprinkled with crispy shallot; do not be misguided by its small, delicate and somewhat innocent appearance, this scallop is a delicate vessel about to explode with imbibed flavours. Chilli heat to the taste buds juxtaposed with creamy coconut and cut through by bitter lime juice lubricates the moist scallop as it melts in your mouth, in what can only be described as a culinary orgasm.

616 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5RP