Busaba Eathai

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
Critics' choice
1 Love It
© Paul Mattsson
Bloomsbury

Busaba was an instant hit back in 1999 when restaurateur Alan Yau (also the creator of Wagamama, Hakkasan and Yauatcha) opened the original branch on Wardour Street. Yau’s no longer involved, but the chain retains its appeal. Size probably matters; compared to some corporate sharks, it’s a minnow (just nine London outlets) and the Store Street branch, in particular, feels more like a one-off than a cog in a machine. Brooding good-looks – dark teak furniture and walls, oversized lampshades, incense – help, and the communal tables are big enough to make sharing less irritating.

The modern Thai menu covers stir-fries, wok-cooked noodles, grilled meat and the ever-popular curries. Instead of starters, there are sides such as chicken wings or vegetable springs rolls. Green veg curry is always dependable, with a creamy intensity of flavour and plenty of sliced chillies; som tam (green papaya salad) had an eye-watering zinginess; chilli-inflected red lamb curry went wonderfully with fragrant lychees. Drinks include some inventive juices and smoothies, Thai beers and saké. Well-drilled staff keep things ticking over smoothly. Not everything works, though: the non-spicy dishes can be dull, we resent paying extra for rice, and prices keep climbing – Busaba is no longer a bargain.

Venue name: Busaba Eathai
Contact:
Address: 22 Store Street
London
WC1E 7DF
Opening hours: Meals served noon-11pm Mon-Thur; noon-11.30pm Fri, Sat; noon-10pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Goodge Street tube
Price: Main courses £7-£12.50

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|10
1 person listening
Simon C
Staff Writer

I'm not a great fan of communal dining restaurants, feels too much like eating in a school dining room. However, when the food is good it's a small price to pay. I've eaten in a number of the Busaba branches, the food is consistently good, the service is generally of a high standard with a few blips on the way. Personally, I prefer the spicy dishes, they aren't overpowering, but they do pack that extra zing to tantalise the tastebuds. I'm completely addicted to the Thai Calamari, I could tuck in a fill my boots on this alone, washed down with one of the very pleasant fruit juice concoctions, I especially like the Guava Collins. Although not the cheapest place to eat, the extra expense is worth paying for the consistently good standard of food.

Marie

I loved the food, but the place lacked any ambiance and we quick in & quick out. I suppose that's why the price was good.

Laura

I had my birthday party here and it was the perfect experience for a big group that wouldn't work in the main room. Recommend booking the private room if there's more than maybe ten people, there were 16 of us which was about right. Bill was very reasonable.

Maja

I don't quite understand TO hype - my experience was average. you get what you pay for - it's inexpensive and takeaway quality. staff were nice but we felt rushed. all in all mediocre.

Ben

Loved the place and found the food fantastic while remaining very affordable. I don't quite understand the negative comments...

mike martin

There is a glut of Thai restaurants in London now, so any newcomers will have to be damn good to comptete with the established ones such as Addies, Thai Square, Blue Elephant etc. This newly opened branch on Kings Road, Chelsea left a lot to be desired. Three of the main courses came up cold (Pad Thai,Chicken and Beef) and only the duck curry (the one hot dish temperature wise) had any taste at all. The Pad Thai was far too small to share-as were the other dishes and was very bland. No deserts on offer and the wine we chose wasn't available. This massive barn of a place will not survive in this very competitive area of London if they don't pull their socks up pronto

Shalinee

I generally have very good experiences at this branch and others, but recently things haven't been so great. I had a coconut-based dish which I hadn't tried before, which wasn't very well executed and the flavours were generally a bit weird. Then we had an incident in this branch where my small glass of wine was exactly the same as my fellow diner's large glass of wine. There was only one or two pounds difference between the two, but two members of staff just proceeded to tell us why we were mistaken and refused to accept any fault or concede in any way that maybe we were telling the truth. It wasn't worth arguing with them about, but I was rather saddened that we had to argue at all. So, usually great food (the calamari and the various versions of pad thai are my favourites) but unpredictable service.

Romy

How did this make the top 50? I went to the branch in Westfield and it was extremely average. Very very very average. The menu was quite limited and stereo typical. The traditional dishes like pad thai were bland. Still, better Time Out introduce these restaurants than actual good ones so they don't become too popular.

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