"An authentic gem"Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
London’s undoubtedly a hotbed of cuisines and I’ve certainly had some good Thai in my time, but this authentic gem hidden within the Lancaster Hotel is something special.
Nipa Thai is the real deal. Head chef Sanguan Parr, has been at the helm for over 16 years; there's little she doesn’t know about this most delectable of cuisines. With a menu of classics from northern Thailand, the offering includes an early bird special (5-6.30pm) for just £23, set options and a la carte (be warned… your eyes will be bigger than your belly…). It says it all that Nipa Thai is one of an elite selection of Thai restaurants in the UK to have received the “Thai Select” award from the Thai Government, for restaurants proven to have achieved the highest standards of quality and cuisine, not to mention the 2 AA Rosettes for its precise, authentic cooking with incredible attention to detail. So far so good.
As it’s situated within a hotel, the vibe is - expectedly - different to if you’d stumbled across the restaurant out on the high street, but the food more than made up for the slight lack of ambience and, to be honest, it made a pleasant change to be somewhere quiet.
It might be worth having a light (or no…) lunch if you’re planning on an evening meal here; there is a lot to choose from on the menu and a [i]lot[/i] you will want to try. Start with the Satay Kai (£11), succulent char-grilled marinated chicken with a deliciously creamy peanut sauce and cucumber relish, alongside a portion of the Tod Man Kao Pod (£10), sweetcorn fritters with a sweet chilli sauce. If you can’t decide what to try there is, somewhat helpfully the Ruam Mitr, a selection of chef’s special Thai starters for two or three to share, very handy for the indecisive.
While I personally adore the flavours of eastern food, I’m not so great with the chilli, so for a main I tried the Kaeng Massaman Kai (£16), a chicken curry with meat, onions and baby new potatoes, cooked in coconut milk and Massaman curry paste, full of melt in the mouth, butter soft chunks of chicken. Accompanied with a portion of delicately flavoured Thai jasmine rice to mop up the sauce, it was perfection. My guest tried the Plan Phad Char (£22), fried sea bass with Thai aubergine, red chilli, lime, basil and peppercorns - wholly delicious and definitely one to come again for. Upon the recommendation of the manager, we also dipped into a bowl of Sanguan’s Pad Thai (£14) - noodles with bean sprouts, spring onions, eggs and prawns - probably not necessary for our waistlines but we definitely didn’t regret it.
You will regret not leaving room for pudding however. You can imagine the flavours; lots of mango, coconut and lime, not that I’m complaining. the Ice Tim Kluay Tod - coconut ice cream served in the shell - was, quite frankly, sublime, and seriously generous portion, though the Pol La Mai Ruam, carved Thai exotic fruits, that I spied on a neighbour’s table as we departed is something I will be going back for.
The food at Nipa Thai is undoubtedly exceptional - Parr most definitely knows what she’s doing; she’s created a menu of vibrant, exotic dishes that pack a punch, authentic dishes full of flavour. A little way out of one’s comfort zone it may be, but it’s one that’s worth hopping on the central line for.
Laurel reviewed Nipa Thai on Fri 23 Dec 2016