The temperature in Bangkok is forecast to hit 35C during this week’s celebration of Songkran: Thai New Year. London may not be quite so sweltering, but Songkran is a great opportunity to engage with the city’s small but well-established Thai community, some of whom – luckily for us – have set up their own restaurants here.
I am half Thai and half British, and my Thai father, who lives in Bangkok, is something of a foodie. So when my sister and I discover a new Thai restaurant in London, our benchmark is always: is it good enough for Dad? I have many fond memories from my childhood of dimly lit Thai restaurants, smelling of incense and decorated with gold leaf and trinkets. But things have moved on: a new wave of places have set the bar much higher, with simple, clean interiors and more authentic dishes. Here are the highlights of our life-long quest to find the capital’s best Thai restaurant. Alice Bhandhukravi
Did you know? In Thailand Songkran takes place at the hottest time of the year, so they celebrate by spraying water at each other in the streets, sometimes caking each other with powder too. It’s a hot mess!
Alice’s favourite Thai spots in London
My favourite recent discovery is Greyhound Café in Fitzrovia, the first UK outpost of a cool chain from Bangkok. It’s worth a visit just for the aptly named ‘Happy Toast’, with toppings such as coffee custard and condensed milk.
Som Saa in Spitalfields has a cult following that’s well deserved. The deep-fried sea bass is just as good as you find in Thailand.
Kiln in Soho specialises in Thai barbecue and the non-Thai chefs don’t pull any punches when it comes to packing in the flavour.
Here in London, Songkran is celebrated on Sunday April 15 with a Thai festival at the Wat Buddhapadipa: the UK’s first Thai Buddhist temple, which moved to Wimbledon in 1976. Food is a focal point for the festival – so arrive hungry!
The best of Thai London, according to you
‘Begging Bowl in Peckham, without a doubt.’ Gillian L via Facebook
‘Definitely Rosa’s: the most authentic Thai curries with a modern twist I’ve found in London so far.’ Sapphira F via timeout.com
‘Paolina on King’s Cross Road. Lovely little place with amazing dishes.’ Thu T via timeout.com
‘Kin in Clerkenwell is the best! Even saw Eddie Redmayne there once. My fave is the pork belly krapao.’ Garry M via Facebook
‘Maries Cafe, Lower Marsh, Waterloo. Best penang beef outside of Thailand.’ Patsy O via Facebook
‘Jin-Da near Ravenscourt Park. It’s a hidden gem so even posting this comment is risky.’ Teodora T via Facebook