The last time we were in Silverburn, mum and I spotted a yet-to-open restaurant that looked right up our street. Thaikhun has five other branches across the country, with their latest opening in November. They market themselves as serving “Thai Street Food”, and if those three words don’t grab you by the lapels then you and I just can’t be friends.
After a trip to the cinema (another relatively new addition to Silverburn) we headed to Thaikhun for dinner. Seated in a spacious booth, we began attempting to make decisions on what we fancied. It wasn’t long before I realised it wasn’t going to be an easy or quick decision – both mum and I had narrowed our options down to about five different dishes but it took a while to make any final choices. However, we eventually decided on both starters and mains and waited for our order to be taken.
It very quickly became obvious that our waitress was a little bit clueless, and it didn’t take long for her to admit that she was new, and that ordering by numbers would be easier. No problem at all for us, but when I ordered using the numbers of the dishes I wanted she seemed to still be confused and asked a few questions about the dishes. I have no problem with being served by new members of staff – they have to learn somehow – but when she left we did wonder if we would get exactly what we had ordered.
Our starters came quickly enough – almost too quickly for my liking – but after burning my tongue on the first bite of my Plamuk Tod Prik Kleur (Salt and Pepper Squid) I was satisfied that the food was fresh. The squid was well cooked and had a nice crispy batter, but only once or twice did I get any hint of the salt and pepper that was supposed to be on it. Dad had ordered the Por Pia Gai – three chunky, well-filled chicken spring rolls. Another nice dish, but neither of our choices could hold a candle to mums Moo Dad Deow. The English translation of this dish was Fried Pork, but that definitely doesn’t do it any justice. A bowlful of pork strips had been marinated with palm sugar, coriander, pepper and soy sauce before being fried and sprinkled with sesame seeds, resulting in tender, sticky pieces of pork that had a beautiful balance of sweet and savoury flavours. The portion size was very pleasing too – even with dad and I pinching a few pieces each, mum still had more than enough to eat.
Our plates were cleared and, after a gap of a good length, our main courses were brought. All three main plates arrived, with no sign of mums Khao Phad Kai (Egg Fried Rice). We waited for minute, watching the nearby pass and open kitchen for any sign of the rice but none appeared, forcing us to ask a nearby waitress to check. She didn’t take long to arrive with a bowl of rice that, given later events, probably wasn’t meant for us but we settled down to enjoy our mains.
The rice was there to accompany mums Ped Phad Prik Pao – Roast Duck with Chilli Paste. With one chilli beside it on the menu mum had been a little apprehensive, but decided that she would risk it and hope the dish wasn’t too spicy for her. The slices of roast duck, mushrooms, peppers and onions had been fried with chilli paste and oyster sauce and it quickly became clear that it was indeed spicier than mum would have liked. However, she powered through and ate the rest, although she noted that it was hard to taste anything from the duck or vegetables because of the building heat. The strips of duck were tender, but I agreed when she said they had no discernible duck flavour.
Across the table, dad had ordered the Kao Ka Prao Gai – Chicken with Thai Basil and Chilli – and was enjoying the spiciness that the dish provided. The chicken was minced and stir fried with garlic, chilli, basil, soy sauce and oyster sauce, and the chilli was certainly doing its job. Served with steamed rice and the unusual addition of a deep fried egg (not the easiest thing to eat without a knife – a Thai tradition) dad enjoyed his meal nevertheless. I had eventually settled on the Pork Wonton Soup, or Bah Mee Giew Nam Moo Deng, mainly because I really fancied the sound of the prawn and chicken wontons that were part of the dish. Disappointingly, these were the exact aspect that let the dish down. A tasty, if subtle, broth was topped with tender, thinly sliced barbequed pork which had a slightly sweet, almost caramelised flavour. The egg noodles that filled the bowl were perfectly cooked but lacked flavour even when eaten with the broth. The wontons, I thought, could be the dish’s saving grace, but these too were bland and flavourless.
We skipped dessert and asked for the bill, which was surprisingly cheap until dad noticed that the rice was not on it – a definite indicator that the rice we were given was probably meant for someone else! Ever the honest citizens, dad pointed out their mistake and we paid the full bill, not that they were particularly thankful for our honesty.
Tasty starters were let down by subpar mains – poor choices perhaps, and I would be prepared to try Thaikhun again, although I can definitely say that it’s not the best Thai I’ve ever had. However, it’s nice to see a little bit of variety in places like Silverburn where almost every other restaurant can be found on any British high street, and my first visit hasn’t put me off completely.