Visiting The Old Siam

I was up in York for a few days and was looking for a place to eat close to where I was staying.  I had noticed The Old Siam when I had gone for a walk along Micklegate. This was a Thai restaurant with wooden floors and batik wall hangings.

When I arrived it was quite busy, but I was given a warm welcome. I was shown to my table. I liked the atmosphere of the place, and there was a real buzz about it. The wooden furniture offered an informal dining experience which I liked.

There was quite a lot of choice of different Thai dishes on the menu, but in the end I decided to go for the salt n pepper soft shell crab as a starter followed by the mixed seafood pad cashew nut as my main course.

The salt n pepper soft shell crab was soft shell crab in a tempura batter with garlic, salt, pepper and served with sriracha sauce.

The batter was nice and crispy and I liked the crab, which had a real crab flavour. Sometimes when I’ve had battered soft shell crab, the crab can be somewhat tasteless. This time I could definitely taste the crab. The sriracha sauce was a little too spicy for me. However, despite that I really enjoyed the crab.

It wasn’t long before my main course arrived. This was stir fried light battered mixed seafood with roasted cashew nut, carrot, onion, red pepper and mushroom. Alongside I had a serving of sticky rice.

This was a nice dish. There was a good mix and portion of battered seafood. I did think the batter as a little thick in places, but there was a nice crunch. The sauce was nice and there was a good amount of cashew nuts. The sauce was nice and it worked well combining all the aspects of the dish together.

Overall I really liked the food here, the service was excellent, warm, and friendly. I was tempted to go again, but I know if I am up in York again, I will try and visit The Old Siam.

Pad Kra Prow at Rosa’s Thai

Royal Albert Dock

I was attending a conference in Liverpool, and arrived in the evening. I was quite hungry after a long journey to Liverpool, so after looking at (and dismissing) the hotel menu I headed out to the Royal Albert Docks for a bite to eat. There is quite a bit of choice across the docks, and knowing I was short of time, I realised I had to choose quickly. After looking at a few choices I decided that I would go for Thai and went into the branch of Rosa’s Thai they have on the docks.

They described themselves as:

A family of foodies dedicated to serving up perfected Thai dishes. You’ll find us in unfussy cafes at the heart of neighbourhoods, cooking up fresh dishes from our kitchens straight to your table.

The menu looked interesting and I could see quite a few things I liked the look of. So in I went. It was quite busy, but I was given a warm welcome and I took a seat and l looked around. The environment was informal and inviting. They have different kinds of seating and they used lots of wood and wooden furniture. The staff looked busy, but friendly and efficient.

I looked over the menu, which has quite a few options. My first choice for the starter would have been the crispy squid, but I always have that, so looked over the choices. In the end I went with the Gai satay. Described on the menu as succulent, lemongrass-scented grilled chicken thigh skewers with Rosa’s peanut dipping sauce.

Gai satay

These were three large skewers of marinated chicken thighs, nothing like the satay skewers you find in the deli counters of most supermarkets. The satay sauce was delicious and really enhanced the chicken. I was pleased with that choice.

For my main course I did think about getting the Pad metmamuang, the cashew stir fry, but in the end I went with the Seafood Pad Kra Prow. This was the Chilli & Basil Stir Fry with seafood. The menu called this a spicy and fragrant favourite with Thai basil, onions and green beans. This is something of a national dish, a real classic.

Seafood Pad Kra Prow

I wasn’t sure about the presentation and look of the dish. However the spiciness was just right, there was a good portion of seafood in the dish, though it was dominated by the squid. Not that I minded as I prefer squid. I suspect if you like prawns you might be a little disappointed, though there are prawn dishes elsewhere on the menu.

The squid was nice and tender, and I enjoyed the green beans and Thai basil. Overall I really tasty dish.

Alongside I had some sticky rice. 

sticky rice

The sticky rice came wrapped in banana leaf. It was really a large lump of sticky rice, which I had to break apart with my spoon. However it did add to the overall dish.

Alongside the food I had a Thai beer (in a can).


This was a lovely meal, excellent service, tasty food, and nice environment. It was my first experience of Rosa Thai and I certainly would go again.

Yeah, it was what I expected…

I was up in Manchester for some meetings. I had planned in eating my evening meal in the hotel I was staying at, but it was closed, no reason given, but food was being served in the bar area. With a rather limited menu I decided to head off to the Trafford Centre, having enjoyed a meal at Bills there back in May last year. This time there wasn’t anything on the menu that inspired me.

The menu at Tru Street looked quite interesting with choices including bao buns for a starter, and lamb chops for the main. However it was a little more than I wanted to spend, and with the mandatory 12.5% service charge, would have stepped up the bill. What finally clinched it for me, to not to go, were the reviews on Google. Over a thousand reviews and the rating was 2.9 stars out of five. Put that into perspective, Bills has 4.2 stars out of five.

There is a huge choice of places to eat at The Trafford Centre, almost too much choice.

I did consider heading to Zizzi to have pizza, especially as I had a 30% off food voucher. However there was a bit of a queue for tables, and though I joined the queue, it wasn’t moving. I hate queuing so made the choice to go somewhere else. Next door was Thaikhun, a Thai buffet restaurant. They had an introductory £5 off deal, so kind of expecting nothing special I waited to be seated.

This was a self-service buffet restaurant with quite a selection of Thai based dishes. If you have been other buffet restaurants you might feel a little short-changed as compared to places likeZa Za Bazaar in Bristol the menu is limited to just Thai food.

Of all the dishes I had, I really enjoyed the seafood dish which included squid and prawns. 

Compared the excellent Thai food I have had at places such as Sais’s Thai in Oxford, this could be seen to be rather disappointing. However I wasn’t expecting anything special, so I did enjoy the food I had. Would I go again? Probably not.

Time for Thai at the Thai Canteen

I was staying in London again and popped out to Ealing in the car to get something to eat. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. The tapas place was full (and a good meal would be a little pricey). I did initially think about Bill’s but wasn’t 100% sure. Next door was the Thai Canteen, the menu looked interesting. I walked down to Cote, but didn’t really fancy anything on the menu. So I walked back to the Thai Canteen and decided I must stop walking and go somewhere to eat. So, I looked over the menu. It was a little difficult to read outside, so I went in and was given a nice warm welcome.

The menu was quite extensive, some reminded me of my local Chinese takeaway, so I decided that I would try and have something from the Thai end of the menu.

However for my starter I went with what I have quite a lot eating out which was squid, the starter I chose was the crispy baby squid with wasabi mayonnaise.

This was a good portion of freshly cooked squid. I liked the wasabi mayonnaise, but the squid for me was too much crispy batter and not enough squid. Well it was “crispy squid” what did I expect?

For my main course I had the Yen-ta-Fore, fat rice noodles with seafood, morning glory and crispy wonton.

This was a huge bowl of food. There was a selection of seafood, and I’ll be honest I am not sure what was what. There were prawns, these I did recognise. But there was also some fish balls and some deep fried cubes of something! The broth was nice and spicy. The wontons were crispy, but quickly became soggy as they sank into the broth. It was all very tasty though.

Overall I did struggle to finish the dish, there was a lot of food, and I think if I went back I would not have had a starter.

The service was excellent and I enjoyed the food.

Homecooked Thai style stir fry

Thai Stir Fry

This is a recipe I cook quite often, it was inspired by visits to Sais’ Thai in the Oxford Covered Market. Though it has similarities to the dish I had at Sais’ Thai, it’s not quite the same, actually it’s quite different, but I don’t usually use the ingredients they do.

I cook some cubed pork belly in the oven, for about twenty minutes I then remove from the oven and stir fry in a wok with some soy sauce and fish sauce, along with finely chopped garlic and ginger. You could add chilli as well, if you like a bit of heat in your stir fry. I then take a range of vegetables, including but not always limited to: ribbons of carrot, pak choi, red cabbage, courgette, mushrooms (shitake and brown), baby corn, and onions. These are added to the wok. And cooked for a couple of minutes. I then add spinach and basil. I would prefer to use Thai Basil, but I have had trouble either finding it locally or growing it in the garden.

The dish is then served with a sprinkling of cashew nuts. It works well with rice, but I have also served it with noodles as well.

Time to grab some Thai

One of my favourite places to eat Thai food is Sais’s Thai in the covered market in Oxford. I now rarely get the chance to eat there having stopped working in Oxford in 2015. I did manage a return visit earlier this year and it was just as tasty as I remembered it.

Looking for somewhere to get some lunch when working in our London office I found GrabThai on Fleet Street. Looking at the menu it bought back memories of the delicious Thai food from Sais’s Thai.

Grabthai on Fleet Street

There is quite a bit of choice, from stir fries to curries to pad thai.

So what of the food?

I went with the Pad Prik King Pork, this is pork and fine bean stir fry in red curry paste and kaffir lime leaves served on a choice of rice. I went with the brown rice and extra cashew nuts.

Pad Prik King Pork

It didn’t look anything like the image on the website or on the menu, which was disappointing.

Pad Prik King Pork

Well it was quite nice, but I had such high expectations that no wonder I was slightly disappointed. There was a nice spiciness to the dish, the pork belly was tender, though I think I would have preferred it meatier or even slightly chewy! The brown rice was tasty and added texture. I did ask for extra cashew nuts, these were scattered on top, so I needed to mix it into the stir fry. There was a good proportion of stir fry to rice, sometimes I have found places give you loads of rice and very little of the main dish.

Would I go again? Well I think I might, but with so much choice in and around Fetter Lane, it might be some time before I go back.

Asian inspired

It’s being a while since I did any stir frying so last night I was inspired to get the wok out and cook some Asian inspired dishes. My first was Thai style stir fried pork with pal choi and cashew nuts.

Thai style stir fry

This dish was my take on a meal I use to eat a lot when I worked in Oxford. In the covered market in Oxford there was a lovely little eatery called Sasi’s Thai that cooked and served delicious Thai dishes. One of my favourite was the stir fried pork with pak choi, Thai basil, vegetables and cashew nuts. I have tried many times to recreate it and have got a reasonable facsimile of the dish now.

I took some pork belly and cut it into chunks before roasting it off in a hot oven. A long slow cooking might be better, but even with just twenty odd minutes in a hot oven, it still managed to render the fatty pieces of pork belly down into tasty chunks. This is set aside. I don’t mind preparing my own vegetables, however I did have a pack of rainbow stir fried vegetables from M&S that I had bought, which had been reduced, and included carrots ribbons, red cabbage, spring onions, baby sweetcorn and pak choi. I added some red pepper and mushrooms to the mix. I started by heating up a little oil in the wok on a high heat. To this I added the vegetables and tossed them around. I then added some soy sauce, fish sauce and a little vinegar. Turning the vegetables once more I then added the cooked pork. The dish was done, once the pak choi was limp. In the past I would add some spinach leaves and basis leaves, alas I had none in the fridge. I have tried to grow Thai Basil in the garden, but have not had much joy there. It’s quite challenging to find it in my local stores.

Alongside the pork stir fry I also made sweet and sour pork balls. For this I first cooked chunks of pork belly in the oven. These were done in a covered roasting pan, they were covered with foil. What I was trying to so was actually slow cook them, but this was challenging as I was short on time, but also the oven was quite hot, as at the same time I was roasting the other chunks of pork belly for the stir fry dish. This was cooked for about twenty minutes, the pork should look cooked, but not caramelised as if it had been roasted. The result is soft tender pork. This was cooled. I meant to coat the pork in flour, but didn’t, so they went straight into a batter mix of self-raising flour (I actually used gluten-free flour), egg and milk. The key is less about the quantities but getting the consistency right. It should coat the back of a spoon, if the batter is too thin then the pork doesn’t get coated enough, too thick and you get thick stodgy battered balls of pork. The pork was deep fried in small batches in hot sunflower oil. I was really pleased with the results, the batter was crunchy and crisp, with the pork tender and full of flavour. The pork balls were served with a homemade sweet and sour sauce which included baby sweetcorn and red pepper.

With those two dishes (and as I did have hot oil on the go) I served some crispy rice noodles, deep frying dried rice noodles, along with regular cooked rice noodles.

Overall the meal went down well and everything was eaten.

Thai style stir fry

Thai style stir fry

I do like Thai food, one of my favourite places to eat in Oxford was Sai’s Thai in the covered market. As I have never actually been to Thailand I couldn’t say whether what they cooked was authentic, or typical of the cuisine. What I can say, is I really liked their food and what they served. I have tried quite a few times to recreate the experience at home, sometimes with an element of success and sometimes it was just okay.

For this recipe I took some chicken thighs and cut them into strips, I prefer using chicken thighs over chicken breast, as the flavour is much better and it cooks better in a stir fry, staying moist and tender, whilst breast can dry out.

The chicken is mixed with soy sauce and I used some rice flour (one of the family is on a wheat-free diet). I mixed the chicken until it was all evenly coated.

This was then cooked in a some sunflower oil in my trusty wok. The chicken is stir fried until just cooked and removed from the wok. What happens next depends very much what is in the house and in the fridge.

First goes some garlic and usually a combination of onions, pak choi, green beans (or mange tout), sliced mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, broccolli, basil and spinach. I had fish sauce and more soy sauce. You can add some chopped red chilli for heat if you want. I do like to get Thai Basil if I can, but I have found normal Basil an okay replacement. This is all stir fried, and when this is nearly cooked, the spinach has wilted, I add back the chicken and some cashew nuts. A little more stir frying before serving on a dish (and sometimes topping with more cashew nuts).

I find this quite a simple, yet very tasty dish, serve with plain steamed rice or noodles.

Sasi’s Thai

Within the Oxford Covered Market are many places to grab lunch, either to eat there, or to take back to the office.

One place I like for lunch is Sasi’s Thai in the Oxford covered market. They serve a variety of Thai dishes, as well as salads, cakes and coffee.

They have a counter, the food is cooked in an upstairs kitchen, and a range of tables, chairs and soft chairs. It can get busy, so you can’t always get a seat. It’s quite a nice and busy environment, with a pleasant ambience. If it is too busy you can always do take away.

My usual choice is either a single selection from their range of dishes or two served with rice.

This time I chose the chicken with cashew nuts and the crispy pork with basil.

Thai #photo365

The chicken dish was fresh and tasty with good flavours and I always enjoy the crunch of the cashew nuts. The crispy pork consists of deep fried pork belly combined with Thai basil, peppers, onions and chilli. Tasty combination of flavours and textures long with a nice bit with the chilli.

If I was to make one criticism I do think that sometimes their portions are a little on the small side, but that is just a minor point. The day I took the photograph above, the dish was a good size.

Their range of dishes include green and red curries, egg and cinnamon soup, pad thai I have also had some quite nice fish dishes too.

I’ve not yet tried the salad or even the coffee, but the food is great and well worth checking out.