Get us in your inbox


Plaza Khao Gaeng

  • Restaurants
  • Oxford Street
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Photograph: Jess Hand
    Photograph: Jess Hand
  2. Photograph: Jess Hand
    Photograph: Jess Hand
  3. Photograph: Jess Hand
    Photograph: Jess Hand
  4. Photograph: Jess Hand
    Photograph: Jess Hand

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

‘How is your spice tolerance?’ our waiter asked, as she led me and my friend to our table. 

‘Terrible,’ I replied. ‘I find Sriracha spicy.’

‘Great, then you’re going to love this place.’ she said, while rubbing her hands in delight.

And that’s the type of place Plaza Khao Gaeng is. Not that he tries to force-feed you capsaicin, but chef-owner Luke Farrell doesn’t hold back or try to dumb anything down to appease the masses. This new no-frills southern-Thai canteen on the mezzanine level inside the JKS-backed Arcade Food Hall next to Centre Point is a hot commodity.

We were welcomed by the sounds of ladles rattling against the woks, the sights of towering flames waving over the open-plan kitchen and a fish sauce funk that stung the nostrils. All very good signs.

My pal reckoned the interiors here look like a film set. From the strip lights to the rickety wooden chairs and bright patterned plastic tablecloths, Plaza Khao Gaeng has paid meticulous attention to detail and managed to bring Thailand to Londoners without it ever feeling gimmicky or fetishsised. Plus, the sounds of the bustling lunchtime crowd of the food hall really adds to the ambience.

The more you ate, the more the heat built, seared and spread. Seriously addictive stuff.

We kicked things off with miang phuket (cashews, nuts, seeds and chillies in coconut and palm sugar with leaves). A leaf wrapped tidbit was a masterclass in sweet, crunch and punch, but as someone who doesn’t have the affinity for the hot stuff I carefully pushed the chillies aside. To save our tastebuds, we opted for the (slightly) milder dishes on the menu. A gaeng massaman neua (beef massaman curry) that was rich and complex, flecked with fluffy potatoes and jelly-like shallots that’s slowly cooked to soak up the pool of flavours. The gaeng gati gai (chicken-and-coconut curry with betel leaves) was a deceptively simple-looking bowl of creamy and comforting brown stuff, but the more you ate, the more the heat built, seared and spread. Seriously addictive stuff.

My one real qualm is that this is not a good place to go with vegetarians or people who don’t like fish. My piscine-averse pal and I weren’t keen on the nam chub (roasted shrimp paste relish with fresh vegetables, cucumbers and mint leaves). It came out too late and we both agreed that the paste was too bitter and too spicy, the heat is all-consuming and overpowering, in what was a slight bum note. Perhaps, someone with better spice tolerance would have enjoyed it more.

But overall, I’m really glad that a place like Plaza Khao Gaeng exists. Not just because it’s a good central meeting point for excellent food at an incredible price (our bill for two with drinks came to £69) but because it’s rare to see a restaurant and chef not claim to be anything they’re not. Farrell is carving out his own path with his unapologetically expressive cooking and he doesn’t care if you can’t handle it or not. Go now, but maybe order a glass of milk with your food.  

The vibe The smells and sights are as if you’re in the streets of Thailand.

The food Southern Thai food ranging from curries to salads spice with a side of spice.

The drinks Refreshing, fruity and herby cocktails, highballs and non-alcoholic sodas to provide some much-needed heat relief. 

Time Out tip? Bring a big group of mates (who can handle their spice), order a bucket of Singha beers and sit on the big table to see all the fiery action from the kitchen.

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui


103-105 Oxford St
View Website
Do you own this business?
Sign in & claim business
You may also like
You may also like
Bestselling Time Out offers