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Thailand, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘Relaxed, but special’

PUBLISHED: 08:10 07 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:10 07 July 2018

Thailand restaurant in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Bill Smith

Thailand restaurant in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Bill Smith

Archant © 2004

It’s the oldest Thai restaurant in Norwich, with more than three decades of history. Lauren Cope went to try Thailand, a hidden gem sitting right by the ring road.

Thailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staffThailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staff

About 10 weeks ago, I moved from the city centre to a house in the suburbs.

I loved it - but missed the lack of wonderful eateries right on the doorstep.

So when I spotted Thailand on my drive home, it was an obvious one to try.

Having opened in 1986, it is the city’s oldest Thai restaurant and has a clutch of AA rosettes, matching quality with history.

Thailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staffThailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staff

It’s clear on arrival that it’s not somewhere for a quick bite - Thailand is the place you come to for a birthday or anniversary, a slightly pricier options that quickly becomes a family favourite.

While the menu is vast, in the interests of indecision we opted for the set meal for two, a generous selection of two starters, five mains, dessert and coffee.

Up first: Juicy skewers of chicken with a substantial portion of creamy, nutty satay sauce and salad, followed by gung chup pang tod - tempura fried king prawns and vegetables (cauliflower, mushroom, broccoli, courgette and others I’ve probably forgotten).

The chicken had a slight caramelisation, while the tempura was crispy, light and not oily. A good start. We were ready for more (I’d have taken a bowl of that delicious satay sauce, to be honest).

Thailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staffThailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staff

Five generous portions came next: Chilli beef, lean strips of rump steak with peppers and lime leaf, corn and cashew nut chicken, garlic king prawns and the Thailand selection of vegetables with oyster sauce.

Served with a portion of kow pat khai, egg fried rice with onion and tomatoes, it was more than enough (I pride myself on my eating stamina, but even I was flagging after two healthy platefuls).

Harsher critics than I would have found fault, I’m sure, but I enjoyed every dish - nothing felt oily, too heavy or tough. The vegetables had bite, the sauces were an umami punch and flavour different from dish to dish.

The chilli beef, tender, salty, sweet and spicy (with, in what I’m sure would be an offensive description to any chef, a flavour almost reminiscent of beef jerky - I mean that in the most complimentary sense), was the winner.

Thailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staffThailand, on the Ring Road in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant staff

Plump, juicy, garlicky prawns were a very close second, though, and disappeared within minutes of being served.

My partner said, in hindsight, he wished he’d opted for the main menu - he’s partial to sticky rice and a Thai curry. An excuse to go back, I say.

After we’d made a truly horrific mess of the table, we were onto dessert. But, dear reader, we let ourselves down.

Full the brim, we reluctantly skipped the enticing flavours of green figs with liqueur and cream, and pineapple amaretto, and, instead, opted for two ice-cream dishes.

Feeling like two children on a European summer holiday, we were happy - but next time I’d make room for something more authentic.

Setting

On the ring road - convenient, and doesn’t feel busy when inside. We went on a weeknight, not far after rush-hour, and it felt pretty peaceful.

Ambiance

Relaxed, but special. It feels like somewhere you’d go on a special occasion - a restaurant you’d remember fondly from childhood family meals. The price makes it somewhere I’m unlikely to visit every month, but I’d certainly take visiting friends and family there.

Service

Excellent - friendly and attentive but not pushy or rushed.

Drinks

It was a weeknight, so we played it simple and had soft drinks, but there’s plenty to choose from.

Accessibility

Relatively - there’s a slight step to get in and tables are fairly close together.

Toilets

Clean, standard. As you’d expect.

Parking

Decent sized car park - might fill up on a Saturday evening but there’s plenty of space.

Price

It is a more expensive choice - the meal for two was £82 without drinks. It was generous portions, though, lovely food and great service. Mains range from £11.50 for vegetarian dishes up to £16 and £17.

Highlight

The ambience. It made our Wednesday night memorable, but still felt like we could unwind after work. The food was also hard to fault. Also, the pretty cutlery and crockery (an odd thing to note, but you will too).

Value for money

From £5.75 to £6.95 for starters to £11.50 to roughly £17.00 for main courses

For their website, click here.

9 Ring Road, Thorpe St Andrew


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