No longer run by restaurateur Alan Yau (he sold his creation in January 2010 for £21.5 million), Busaba Eathai has new owners – a UK private equity firm –who have stepped up expansion of this fast-growing chain. One of the more recent branches is this one in Hoxton.
The classic Busaba dishes are consistently interesting, and well executed at all branches: smoky duck breast with tart tamarind sauce; pandan chicken; sen chan pad thai (with crab meat); green curry fried rice with chargrilled chicken.
A few of the newer dishes aren't quite so alluring; a wing-bean salad was drenched in an overly rich coconut dressing, masking its fresh, pea-like flavour. But Thai-style calamares, all spry and crisp and served with zingy green peppercorns, is a winning dish for many regulars.
Staff are graduates from the school of cool, and although service is chummy, they always seem to sit you on the busiest shared table. Drinks range from tropical smoothies and juices (we love the guava collins) to Thai beers and Boylan cherry cola.
A dependable, attractive place for excellent modern Thai food on the cheap.