"Crowd pleasing Thai food"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Alan Yau is laughing all the way to the bank. From setting up ubiquitous noodle chain Wagamama to the higher end Yauatcha and Hakassan, through mid-priced Cha Cha Moon and Italian bakery-style Princi, every venture Yau turns his hand to seems to turn into a goldmine.
The Wardour Street branch of Busaba Eathai regularly has queues winding around the pavement, this despite there being a further three branches in close proximity, near Bond St, Piccadilly Circus and Goodge St to be precise.
So what’s the key? Is the food tantalising? Are they giving dishes of Pad Thai away for free?
Inside, long communal tables are shared by diners, the lack of space and intimacy being a typical characteristic of Yau’s eateries. Low level lighting and noise are the other two. A place for a date this is not.
The menu has noodles, stir fries, grilled dishes and curries to choose from, as well as plenty of vegetarian options. Portions of noodles are hefty - the smoked chicken with Chinese broccoli and egg (£6.90) has generous chunks of smoky meat sitting atop bundles of thin noodles.
The chicken and butternut squash stir-fry with cashew nuts and chilli (£6.60) is moderately spicy while the char-grilled sea bream (£9.80) is cooked to tender perfection and aromatised with chilli and lime. Large pieces of fennel complete the dish.
The Thai calamari (£5.70) is a definite highlight, cooked in a light crispy batter with ginger and peppercorns which add a little heat. Sticky coconut rice (£2.70) is served in quirky pots with a hole on top.
A guava Bellini (£5.50) doesn’t quite live up to its exotic promise by lacking in flavour but the hot sake (£4.70) is expectedly fine.
So why do Londoners flock here? Dishes are consistently tasty, a generous meal can be had for around a tenner and Brits love a bit of Thai. Food I mean.
Leila reviewed Busaba Eathai on Tue 14 Sep 2010