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Speedboat Bar

  • Restaurants
  • Chinatown
  • price 2 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Speedboat Bar (Speedboat Bar)
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  3. Speedboat Bar (Speedboat Bar)
    Speedboat Bar
  4. Speedboat Bar (Speedboat Bar)
    Speedboat Bar
  5. Speedboat Bar (Speedboat Bar)
    Speedboat Bar

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

A rowdy but delicious Thai canteen in Chinatown, with creative cocktails and a late, late licence

For all of Speedboat Bar’s flashy, fabulous chaos – the real Thai racing boats strung from the ceiling, the pool table in the first-floor bar, the wobbling three-litre towers of Singha beer that are constantly being carried across the room and the 1am weekend licence – there is some seriously sophisticated cooking going on at what at first glance seems to be a simple Rupert Street party restaurant. 

Consider, if you will, the fried whole mackerel in red curry with makrut lime, a dish both dainty and blow-your-socks-off flavourful, where perfectly crispy skin gave way to delicate, soft flesh. Or the salad of chicken matches with green mango kerabu, where the slimmest of wings hid in a deftly spiced heap of crisp fruit. Or heat-seeking prawn ceviche missiles, which came dotted with a bullseye of garlic and chilli as a warning.  

Though it might sound hard to believe, the flavours were louder than the decor, and even the luminous blue sports shirts worn by the helpful serving staff. I’m sure you don’t want to be bored by restaurant industry insider chat, suffice to say that Speedboat Bar is the latest spot from JKS, a hospitality group we can also thank for the globe-trotting likes of Hoppers, Bao and Gymkhana – as well as the dearly departed Taiwanese teahouse Xu, which previously occupied Speedboat Bar’s side-street site. They’ve teamed up with Luke Farrell, a Thai-food obsessive who’s already impressed the capital’s hungriest mouths this year with Plaza Khao Gaeng over in Arcade Food Hall by Centrepoint. 

While Plaza offers a southern Thai fiesta, the bright and boozy Speedboat Bar is inspired by canteen food in Bangkok’s own Chinatown. Both use native Thai herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables grown in Farrell’s Dorset greenhouses, but it’s fair to say that the former definitely uses more of the spices. Here, spices still jump out triumphantly from every dish, but they’re not going to destroy you – sweetcorn fritters were crunchy pop-in-the-mouth fun and chicken skins with zaep seasoning the very definition of zingy. Tom yam mama noodles with squid, pork and prawns were swimming in a creamy broth and the fried rice was a far from simple side.

Drinking is important here, too. The Magic Inhaler is a shot-glass version of St John’s infamous Dr Henderson – a potent Fernet-Branca/Crème de Menthe mash-up that shouldn’t have worked but very much did – while cocktails were fun and extremely drinkable. A Phed Pokati marg sang with green mango tequila, makrut lime leaf, green chilli and mango salt. Unmissable. 

The vibe A party restaurant with incredible Thai flavours.

The food Punchy, fun dishes drawing from Bangkok's Chinatown canteens.

The drinks Sweet cocktails packed with lime, chilli and creamy surprises. And massive towers of beer.

Time Out tip A weekday lunch menu offers a set meal for just £9. Amazing value.

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper


30 Rupert Street
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