Hattie Lloyd 15/09/22
Speedboat Bar | Full-Throttle Thai in Soho
Let us tell you about a little place in Bangkok, where speakers pump out Thai pop & turbo folk, and you can pop in at all hours for fiery drunken noodles, fragrant soups and earthy curries (straight from a Chinese bullet oven) washed down with Snake Blood Negronis and pours from an ice cold beer tower.
Oh, wait, it’s not in Bangkok – it’s in Chinatown, right here in London.
Speedboat Bar is the work of chef Luke Farrell, a man so dedicated to Thai food that he has his own greenhouses in Dorset in which he’s effectively recreated a mini rainforest (complete with wildlife, tropical rain showers, and butterflies for pollination) where he grows his own native Thai herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables. Which might explain why his other Thai restaurant – Plaza Khao Gaeng, in Arcade Food Hall – is so very good.
Speedboat Bar is a joint venture with JKS – the prolific restaurant group who turn out hit after hit, including Hoppers, Gymkhana and Bao – which explains both its location, on the former Xu site in Rupert Street, and the stunning attention to detail. It’s the kind of dining experience that could genuinely be (though thankfully hasn’t been) described as ‘immersive’. From the pool table down to the red plastic stools clustered round the tables outside, Speedboat Bar could have been lifted right out of Bangkok’s neon-soaked Chinatown, where long speedboats whizz along its rivers.
The unforgiving strip lighting overhead is terrible for making you look good on a date, and perfect for authenticity. There’s kitschy blue wall tiling, and red vinyl seats. Chintzy curtains sealing off the kitchen, and wipe-clean stainless steel tables. There are sports jerseys, portraits of Thai royalty, and signed photographs of speedboat racers adorning the walls.
Even the menus are laminated sheets plastered with bright colours and clip art stars announcing the pricing (the only reminder that this is, in fact, a fancy Soho restaurant and not a late-night Thai food shop). The set menus come in at £40-55pp – but they’re worth every penny.
The kitchen at Speedboat Bar is powered by a row of flaming woks, and a huge torpedo-shaped bullet oven made to roast meat until it’s perfectly crispy on the outside and perfectly succulent on the inside. That results in mouthwatering dishes like crispy pork with long pepper & green ash melon; clove basil with beef short rib stir fry; charred Lo rice noodles tossed with seafood & chillies (brought sizzling to your table); chicken chop salad with green mango kerabu; and candied pineapple pie to finish.
To ease all of this down, there are drinks like the aforementioned beer towers; self-poured whiskey sodas; Snake Blood Negronis (made with a medicinal blend of roots & barks from Thailand); frozen lager slushies; infused rice wines; skin-contact wines (remember: fancy London restaurant); shots (order the Ya Dong Bomb); and more.
And it’s open until 1am.
NOTE: Speedboat Bar is open Wed-Sat. You can find out more, and book a table, here.
Speedboat Bar | 30 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DL
Like dining in the area? Check out these amazing Soho restaurants
30 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 6DL
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