Ting Thai Caravan
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An innovative menu of cheap and hearty Thai street food. Service is friendly and the atmosphere unpretentious
Few things are more pleasing than seeing a great little pop-up get the recognition it deserves, and so it is with Ting Thai Caravan. Started as a small festival pit-stop, Ting Thai began life just around the corner from where it now has permanent residence.
Once serving just four great Thai dishes, it now boasts a hearty street food menu of thoughtful innovations and taste combinations. Right at the centre of the enterprise is chef Ting. He learned his trade while serving street food with his parents in Thailand – before going on to cook for the king (yes, really). But there’s no standing on ceremony here. This is an establishment proud of its pared down, hip canteen-style vibe. Service is über-friendly; happy diners merrily eat from brown cardboard cartons. The menu is separated into rice and noodle boxes, curries, soups and ‘small bowls’, with food available to eat in or take away. Those who opt for the former can perch on stools on long wooden communal tables, rubbing shoulders with droves of locals, many of whom are students, or the odd suit on their lunch break.
Highlights of the menu (and there are many) include succulent marinated chicken dish Gai Cha Plu and The Nam Tok Nua, a fresh, spicy take on the traditional Thai beef salad. Heartier dishes, such as the moreish Gaeng Pha Talay, a seafood jungle curry, burst with flavour. Although it’s the same menu throughout the day, prices and portions go up slightly at night, so expect to pay anything from £4 to £9 as the day progresses.
The drinks menu is joyfully unpretentious, with wine offered simply as ‘red, white or bubbles’, a couple of beer choices, and a few nippy hard liquor options (Mekhong whisky, anyone?). The non-alcoholic Thai juices are also a hit, rounding off a pretty perfect cheap eats experience. Not one fit for a king, maybe, but easily good enough for hungry ’Burghers.