Chaopraya is a restaurant with pretensions. The walls are burnished gold in parts, boldly patterned in others and highly adorned throughout the ground-floor dining room. The basement is simpler, bigger, but also rather darker. The food, a mix of familiar favourites and the chef’s own inventions, is also embellished with the likes of carved vegetable flowers and little heaps of western salad leaves. A bowl of tom yam koong, served on an oversized rectangular plate, was appropriately hot and sour, and packed with plump prawns. Another starter of pan-fried scallops with the chef’s ‘homemade spicy sauce’ tasted of little other than black pepper – the scallops totally masked. Green chicken curry put things back on track, though, with interesting herbal notes. Our pad thai also had plenty of wow-factor thanks to the skilful lattice-work omelette it was wrapped in.
Chaopraya’s location makes it the perfect stop-off for a post-shopping meal, but the West End postcode does mean that prices are a little higher than average. The staff seemed rather uninterested on our visit, though perhaps this was down to a less than busy restaurant.