Friday, 7 October 2016

Eating Out in Bath: Thaikhun

I never really thought there was such a thing as a free lunch (or dinner) but it turns out there is, thanks to the generosity of newly opened 'Thai Street Food' restaurant Thaikhun. This week they hosted a pre-opening press and blogger event which I was lucky enough to attend..free food, you say? And it's Thai? Oh, okay then...




So on Thursday evening myself and a friend found ourselves on a train to Bath for an early supper in Bath's attractive Southgate Quarter. Literally moments from the train station, Thaikhun occupies a nice spot close to one of the city's prime retail areas, making it the perfect venue for a pre or post shopping pit stop. 





Although part of a small chain (there are branches across the UK, from Aberdeen to Guildford) the place does have an authentic street food feel about it - it's sort of like a Thai equivalent of Wahaca. And - just as Wahaca has a buzzy, vibrant vibe - Thaikhun is all about taking classic Thai motifs and themes and funking them up with contemporary touches. If you like your restaurant setting to really draw your eye around the room, Thaikhun will more than please your aesthetic sensibilities. 




It's full of cool and interesting features, from a bank of old TVs stacked along a wall to ceilings hung with metal signs, bird cages, silk umbrellas and colourful tin trays. I'd imagine it's no easy task to replicate the feeling of a Thai street market, but Thaikhun does a pretty good job of making you feel like you've been transported to the Khao San Road for the evening (minus the humidity, thankfully...)





Sadly we missed the restaurant blessing, carried out by real-life Buddhist monks, but we did get a taste of the friendly hospitality that comes as standard when you're travelling in Thailand. The staff were lovely, greeting us in traditional Thai style...I was immediately transported back to the amazing hotel we stayed in on Koh Samui back in 2002. 





And then I spotted some buckets and the memory of drinking massive vats of Red Bull mixed with a variety of alcohol was brought sharply into focus...thankfully the buckets served at Thaikhun are a bit more palatable and a lot less nausea-inducing than the ones I remember putting away on our holiday in Thailand. At Thaikhun you can choose from a variety of sharing buckets, priced at £13 each, including the appropriately named 'Full Moon' (a mix of vodka, fruit liqueurs and Midori), a Phi Phi Bellini and the signature Thaikhun (our choice), which was delicious and dispelled any bad memories of previous bucket drinking experiences. 




Anyway, the food. I haven't had proper Thai food for a long time so I'd kind of forgotten just how good it can be. I've not found a particularly good Thai restaurant in Bristol yet (oh hey, Thaikhun owners...you could, y'know, open in Bristol?!) so I was exceptionally excited about getting my chops around some good Pad Thai and perhaps a chicken satay skewer or two. My dining companion was also excited - she likes Thai food too, but due to her other half's peanut allergy, it's not really their go-to cuisine when it comes to eating out. So, a rare treat for both of us and we weren't disappointed.




Our starters of Gai Satay and Tod Man Pla (Thai fish cakes, to you and me) were exceptional - really, really good, with just the right amount of heat and peanut in the accompanying sauces. Generous portions and lovely presentation - how cute are those little enamel cups! - were the icing on the cake.




For mains, I couldn't resist something noodle based but decided to eschew my go-to dish of Pad Thai for something a little more adventurous. The Sukiyaki Noodles didn't disappoint though I did need to have a few mouthfuls to acclimatise to the heat - billed as relatively mild on the spice (there's a handy key on the menu to help you judge the spiciness of each dish) it definitely fulfilled its symbol rating...but in a good way. The chicken in the dish was cooked to perfection and nestled in a lovely mountain of glass noodles, flavoured with bean curd, pickled garlic and seasoned oils. 




My friend had an equally good Chili Garlic Prawns with a side of the most delicious sticky rice, topped with coconut cream, a beautiful compliment to temper the spice in the fish. 




By this point we were onto our second sharing bucket so dessert seemed inevitable (all my willpower to resist sugar goes out of the window after a couple of drinks) although we were very good and had one to share. Our first choice was off the menu, sadly - seriously, who wouldn't want to dive into a 'Thai Bounty' (chocolate fondant with coconut ice cream)?! A gluten-free chocolate tart made a pleasant alternative, though I think if I'd not been quite so stuffed by this point the Banana Waffles with Vanilla Pod Ice-cream would have been my preferred choice. Also on the dessert menu are some exotic ice cream and sorbet options - toasted coconut, matcha green tea and chocolate chili, for example - as wall as intriguing desserts such as Mango Sticky Rice and Thai Waffles.





If you're dining with little ones, there's also a children's menu, plus a staff member assured us that dietary requirements - like my friend's husband's aforementioned nut allergy - can be catered for. To be honest, we were pretty glad we didn't have kids or husbands in tow that evening...sharing our bucket for two and soaking up the vibe, it almost felt like we were having a short but sweet little Thai holiday, away from our normal lives, for the evening. And if that isn't a good enough reason to visit Thaikhun, I'm not sure what is...





You can find out more about Thaikhun and take a look at menus, locations and photos here. Thaikhun Bath is located at Little SouthGate, Bath, BA1 1AQ.


With many thanks to Thaikhun Bath and Elliots Agency. I attended a free blogger/press event but have not been paid for writing this post and all opinions are my own! 










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