Sometimes in life there’s a clear winner, others you opt for a Thai.
Like when you have to choose between a buzzy, no reservations spot in Soho, slinging some of the finest regional Thai in the city and a leafy, glass-enclosed terrace in Peckham where the menu sees slightly more of a modern lilt.
London is jam-packed full of Thai heavy-weights, all offering up knock-out meals worthy of your time. Which one you choose will likely depend on the day of the week. So we’ve worked them all down to a list of eight and are leaving it up to you to crown your winner…
*Ding, ding, ding.*
Kiln | Soho
This buzzy Soho eatery comes courtesy of the same folks behind Thai BBQ joint Smoking Goat, however this time around the focus is specifically Northern Thai cooking (the type you’d find in the regions boarding Burma, Laos and Yunnan) crafted using locally-sourced, British ingredients. The best seats in the house are upstairs along the massive open kitchen – you can sit and sip a cocktail (made with the same herbs and spices found in the kitchen) and watch the chefs work the flames at the massive charcoal grill. The menu (designed to share) changes regularly, however you’ll always find a mix of smaller bits (aged cull yaw and cumin skewer or northern style laap sausag) as well as larger curries or claypots packed full of spicy soups and noodles.
Address: 58 Brewer Street, Soho, Central London, W1F 9TL | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Speedboat Bar | Soho
Speedboat Bar, Luke Farrell’s new Thai restaurant, lives up to its name as it’s quite the transportive experience; taking you from London’s Chinatown to Bangkok’s Chinatown. It’s an ode to the Thai capital’s neon-lit Yaowarat Road, and Farrell’s got the look down to a tee with low red plastic stools outside, retro tiling wrapped around the dining room, and a pool table on the second floor. The kitchen’s frenzy of flaming woks pumps out fiery drunken noodles, fragrant soups and earthy curries at a rapid rate – the herbs from which are grown in Farrell’s Dorset greenhouse where he’s attempted to recreate his own mini Thai rainforest. It’s spicy stuff so expect to be necking beer slushies and snakeblood negronis like there’s no tomorrow (which if you do, you’ll be writing off anyway…).
Address: 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Burning Rose | Balham
For a long time Balham was without a decent Thai restaurant but then these guys rose to the challenge…And by ‘these guys’ we mean Australian entrepreneur Dennis Turner, co-founder of the internationally-renowned Thai restaurant group Aylmer Aaharn. Back in ’21, he decided to set up in London, enlisting the help of Chef Matthew Albert (of World’s 50 Best restaurant Nahm in Bangkok) and Bertie Procter (Rosa’s Thai) to run the show. It’s Michelin-quality cooking, but casual, with the environment to match. Think crispy spring rolls, chicken wings, as well as all of the usual suspects when it comes to noodles and curries. They also do some banging cocktails, many of which use ingredients straight out the kitchen, like their mandarin and lemongrass Negroni, a refreshing relief to all the heat.
Address: 7 Chestnut Grove, Balham, SW12 8JA| For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Farang | Highbury
After stints at both The Begging Bowl and Smoking Goat, Thai whizz kid Seb Holmes decided to take the leap and set up on his own. He took to the street food markets and hosted a couple of sell-out supper clubs, before popping at his step dad’s old pizza restaurant (Farang’s now permanent home). Space wise it does give off a little more Italian Trattoria than Thai restaurant, however the food – even with its modern twists – is packed full of Thai soul. Again, the menu rotates regularly however stand out dishes include a whole crispy seabass with coconut chilli jam, as well as an aromatic beef cheek curry with green peppercorns and ginger. They also do some amazing salads – full of fresh, zingy flavours, that help cut through all the meat and spices. Helped along, of course by an ice cold beer.
Address: San Daniele, 72 Highbury Park, Highbury, North London, N5 2XE | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Begging Bowl | Peckham
This leafy neighbourhood eatery serves up serves up authentic, regional Thai food, alongside house-made cocktails, beer and wine. Forget your green curries and your pad Thais, instead, you’ll find a regularly rotating menu of sharing dishes that look at lot like this: chive cakes with chilli and dark soy dip; grilled Barbary duck salad with pear, peanuts and ginger; whole deep-fried sea bass, with green mango, physalis, roasted rice, tamarind and chilli dressing.
Address: 168 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4BW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Singburi | Leytonstone
Living by the motto ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’, this frenetic Thai restaurant hasn’t changed at all since it landed in Leytonstone over 20 years ago. Along with it’s informal appeal and devil-may-care attitude, the secret to Singburi’s cult status is getting the simple things right, from bubbling soups that seeth with spice, fragrant curries, part-time blackboard specials that you wish were permanent and a BYOB policy that sees most punters stumbling merrily out the door.
Note: Singburi is cash only
Address: 593 High Road Leytonstone, E11 4PA | To book call 02082814801.
Smoking Goat | Shoreditch
A step up from their Soho original, Smoking Goat carries on the Bangkok-fuelled revelry in this gritty, industrial-style space via ice cold beers, exotic Southeast Asian cocktails and a raft of barbecue bites that go hand in hand with the booze. Think fish-sauce chicken wings, lardo fried rice, pork-fat skewers and and a damn good duck laab that’ll send you sideways with its heat.
Address: 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Plaza Khao Gaeng | Tottenham Court Road
A’top the excellent Arcade Food Hall (courtesy of JKS Restaurants – the same folks behind Gymkhana, Hoppers, and Brigadiers), is a little slice of Thailand – the epitome of a laid-back, road-side eatery down south, where the table clothes are plastic and the cutlery is piled up in a communal silver tray, however the food is exquisite – red hot Miang Kham wrapped in bright green betal leaves; crispy chicken wings marinated in turmeric and long pepper; a rich beef shoulder massaman curry with potatoes & shallots; and fiery plates of stir fried morning glory with fermented soy beans. All of which you can knock back with electric pink Thai-inspired cocktails or, of course, a bucket of ice cold Singh beers.
Address: 101-103 New Oxford Street, Bloomsbury, Central London, WC1A 1DD | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Kin & Deum | Bermondsey
Putting the name to one side (Kin means eat and Deum means drink in Thai), this thriving family-run restaurant in London Bridge has something for parties on either end of the Scoville scale. Heat-seekers in need of kick can test the limits of their tongues in spice-laden dishes like the prawn pad kee mao and the kitchen’s signature gra pow (a beloved Bangkok dish of minced pork and bird’s eye chilies) while for the milder folk, the roasted honey duck slices and tamarind crispy eggs hit the spot. Cocktails are something that everyone can agree on and the bar mixes up five of them; the Bangkok Negroni being the pick of the bunch.
Address: 2 Crucifix Lane, Bermondsey, SE1 3JW | For more information, or to book, visit their website here
Supawan | Kings Cross
If you’re looking for a knockout Thai restaurant in Kings Cross, then here’s a supawan…. especially if you like the idea of getting a proper taste of the South, with dishes like tom yum seafood soup; grilled prawns served on cah-pruu leaves; moo hong (slow-cooked pork belly with Chinese five spices) and pla tod naam pla *a fillet of crispy seabass laced with fish sauce and palm sugar).
Address: 38 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, N1 9DT | Opening hours: 5-11pm (Monday), 12-3pm for lunch and 5-11pm for dinner (Tuesday-Friday), 12-11pm (Saturday), 12-10.30pm (Sunday).
Prefer Chinese food? Book a table at one of the best Chinese restaurants in London…