Amaranth has built a loyal following over the past decade for its bold flavours and low prices (helped by a BYO policy). In fact, it’s so popular that booking is required every night, and table-turning after 90 minutes is the norm. Dining takes place on two floors (ground level with kitchen, and a slightly more spacious basement), both caff-like in demeanour, sporting vividly patterned wallpaper. Service is brisk, though polite, from young Thai staff.
But on this visit we couldn’t help feeling that culinary standards had slackened. Pad thai comprised flaccid, broken noodles, with bean sprouts the dominant taste; the flavours provided by salty fish sauce, sour tamarind juice and hot pepper were notably subdued. A crisp som tam was better, as it used proper green papaya and not substitutes, but again it lacked kick. A steamboat dish of prawns was fine, the aroma of lemongrass filling the air as the lid was lifted, though the stock was a little one-dimensional. Let’s hope this meal was a glitch, and there’s a return to the consistent form of recent years.