Ten years away from Oxford, a trip back meant revisiting ghosts of lunches past. Some haunts had faded, but Sasi’s Thai in the Covered Market, my old lunchtime sanctuary, still beckoned. Forget greasy fry-ups; Sasi’s was a riot of Thai aromas, its glass counter a technicolour tapestry of curries and stir-fries. Ordering was a ritual: point, pay, collect your plate, then thread through the labyrinth of tightly packed tables, sometimes sharing space and smiles with strangers. The vibe, I fancied, echoed the bustling street food havens of Thailand.
The food itself? I wouldn’t claim expertise, never having braved Bangkok’s back alleys. But popularity spoke volumes. My taste buds still vividly recall the fiery dance of chicken and cashew nuts basking in a spicy sauce, crispy pork belly crackling with sweet glaze, and the elusive squid, a fleeting guest on the menu. Each bite was a punch of spice and flavour, a passport to a faraway land, all within the bustling heart of Oxford.
In December I was back in Oxford, and I remembered the great meal I had eaten at Sasi’s Thai in the Oxford Covered Market back in April. So, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when needing lunch in Oxford I headed to the market and joined the queue. Yes, the place was busy, but there was space to eat.
I ordered the two dishes with rice, and had the chicken and cashew nuts, and the spicy crispy pork.
These were tasty dishes, the pork was nice and crispy, the chicken was great. Alas there was a shortage of cashew nuts in the dish, sometimes think I should bring my own cashew nuts with me. The sauce was spicy but still intense with flavour. I really enjoyed both dishes. On the way out I noticed that they had added their squid dish to the counter, now I was seriously tempted to go back and have a second lunch!