Tag Archives: Thai

Chaophraya Graduation Menu, by guest blogger Lucy Reynolds 

With all the new pop-ups and high profile restaurants opening in Leeds, it is easy to often forget the old faithfuls that have served the city amazing food well before the culinary revolution of the last few years had taken hold. Chaophraya is one of those places – a steadfast beacon of high quality, traditional Thai cuisine in beautiful surroundings which seems to have always been in Leeds, and well respected as a place for fine dining. Due to the saturation of new places opening in Leeds, offering competitively high quality fare, it does make you wonder how older establishments compete with the new influx of trendy eating spots, including award winning Zaap, which boasts Thai street food. I think the answer has to be quality – or to put it more bluntly (yet grammatically incorrect) : if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!  
I had been to Chaophraya years ago and was very impressed with the exotic interiors of the restaurant and the sumptuousness of the food (not to mention the traditional procession with drum beating which seemed to happen comically every time my friend and I were having an in-depth conversation). This time round, nearly 6 years later, nothing had changed. It looked exactly the same and had the same sense of class and glamour that I had remembered from my first visit. Even my friend, who works as a chef and who had accompanied me as my plus one, commented on how fancy it was – and that was just the bar area. 

The event we had been invited to was the launch of their new Graduation menu, tied in with a few of the other experience packages they offer, like the cooking school and cocktail making masterclasses. We felt really lucky to be taking part in this as there were only two other bloggers there, which gave us a glimpse of what a private cooking class might feel like. After a complimentary glass of bubbly, we were whisked upstairs to the demonstration area, where Fon, our lovely hostess, showed us how to make our first delicacy, sweet corn cakes. We all donned a surgical rubber glove (and avoided the inappropriate gags running round our brains) and got stuck in, mixing sweet corn, red Thai curry paste, flour and eggs and making small patties to be fried. It was easy, fun and lovely to see them all fluffed up after being cooked. We also tried our hand at making vegetarian Thai spring rolls, with the help of the amazing Lady Noi, a senior chef from the restaurant who could chop vegetables up at lightning speed and work a wok like a true culinary artist. After she had cooked our fillings for the rolls, it was now our chance at donning an apron, a tall paper chef’s hat and mimicking Lady Noi’s effortless spring roll preparation. Whereas hers took seconds, mine took minutes and whilst my first effort looked like a flabby Swiss roll, after a bit of practice, I had actually learnt how to roll a spring roll. Chiyo! as they’d say in Thailand.(Yes, I googled that). Fon also taught us how to make golden baskets too, with a skilful twist on the tying of the same wrap used for spring rolls

After cleaning up, we sat down to our beautiful set table and were promptly served with our homemade sweetcorn cakes and spring rolls with lashings of sweet chilli sauce. Alongside these we also received two more of the Graduation menu appetisers, with scallops and black pudding and Mahoh (finely diced pork, with palm sugar, sweet turnips and peanuts, served on pineapple) being served up with a real eye for artistry.

Our Sweetcorn cakes were absolutely delicious (definitely something I’m going to try to cook at home) and the Spring rolls were crispy, light and delicious when dipped in the addictive chilli sauce. The Mahoh, whilst looking like little peanut butter balls resting on the back of a pineapple swan, were less appetising, being far too sweet for my palate. I couldn’t taste the pork at all and it didn’t appeal to me or my diners, but I’m sure the sweet toothed may enjoy it. The real star of the appetiser line up though was the scallops and black pudding which, Fon told us to our horror, was being taken off the menu due to not being as popular as the other dishes. This would be a gastronomic tragedy! The scallop was perfectly cooked, with juicy slices of mango and spicy chilli, which were perched on what has to be the best slice of black pudding I have ever tasted. Everyone sat at our table agreed how wonderful this dish was, so I hope this heartfelt plea stops the powers that be at Chaophraya from removing this from the menu. Save our scallops!

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The portion sizes for the appetisers were incredibly generous,so much so that we had to take some home with us (my colleagues at work were jealous the next day – spring rolls beat sandwiches any day). Our main meals were then presented, again with hugely generous portion sizes, offering up roasted duck in red curry, steamed sea bass with ginger and soy sauce and wok chicken noodle with sriracha sauce and a mountain of steaming egg fried rice.

Each meal was as delicious as the next, with the sea bass fillets beautifully dripping in sticky soy emulsion and the tender duck being strangely yet deliciously complimented by a mixed berry sauce which worked well with the spice of the red curry. The sriracha dish was probably my favourite, as I am a huge hot sauce fan, with the soft noodle and tender chicken melting in the mouth and the spice being well balanced so as not to overpower the tastebuds. From looking at the menu, vegetarians also have a great choice for the mains, with a veggie green curry, sweet and sour crispy tofu and stir fried aubergine and basil being offered. 

After filling up another take away box with the delicious remnants of our mains, we were faced with the task of making our own fruity cocktail. Headed by a friendly barman from the restaurant, we all learnt how to properly mix our cocktail, blending mixed berry purées with a shot of vanilla vodka and Chambord and shaking it like a Polaroid picture. It was wonderful fun and the cocktail tasted brilliant – so fruity that you hardly noticed there was any booze in it – dangerous and moreish, like a good cocktail should be. This was then followed up by our dessert, a bubbling chocolate fondue with exotic fruits served in a pineapple. A lovely fresh way to end the meal, although none of us were sure about the combination of pineapple and chocolate, so stuck with the old favourite of strawberries instead. 

In my opinion, if you had just graduated, Chaophraya would be a great place to celebrate, with the opulence of the surroundings and the high quality of food adding to your special day. The set menu is innovative and delicious and would satisfy anyone’s taste buds, especially if the black pudding dish remains. The cooking demos and cocktail classes are great fun (Lady Noi is a legend!) and would be suitable for hen parties, birthdays or any get together with like-minded friends who love good food and getting their hands dirty. Chaophraya may not be one of the newest restaurants in Leeds, but it is one of the best, showing that quality always keeps people coming back for more. 

Chaophraya

20A Blayds Court

Swinegate

Leeds

LS1 4AG

http://chaophraya.co.uk/venues/chaophraya-leeds/

Photos by Lucy Reynolds

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Zaap Thai Street Food, Leeds

Leeds’ Northern Quarter seems to have sprung a leak with Thai eateries over recent months – Merrion Street’s now got Bar Soba doing their Pan-Asian thing, popular Thai Aroy Dee has finally reopened a few doors from its original site, of course there’s My Thai (my current Thai fave) just up the road on Wade Lane, and with Zaap Thai this part of town is becoming a bit saturated in this department. When initial signs for the place first went up it created a stir on social media and since opening in May that’s not really stopped, it’s really grabbed people’s attention and resulted in lots of bums on seats!

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For those of you who’ve no idea who Zaap Thai Street Food are, they’re part of award-winning Sukhothai, their well known fine dining restaurants have been popular in and around the city for years. But with Zaap Thai they’ve gone down another path, the name itself sets its stall out to street food and as soon you enter you feel the energy of the place and start to absorb a multitude of sights and sounds. I imagine they’re trying to replicate the atmosphere you get wandering the markets of Thailand, with tuk tuks as eating booths, bright Thai advertising light boxes and street carts, its open kitchen adds to the atmosphere and the sense of being in the heart of Bangkok. 

Arriving around 7:45pm it was busy with a few groups ahead of us waiting, this was dealt with well by staff and not long after ordering drinks at the bar a table became available. Their no booking policy works out for them well I think – we turned up, got lured in by our surroundings, were willing to wait and immediately order drinks ….. game over. The place has a good atmosphere, it’s not too loud and even with music playing in the background being able to have a conversation isn’t a problem.

The menu’s pretty big and divided into dim sum or dim zum as they call it, salads, Krub Krib (snacks and nibbles), larger dishes such as grilled and roasted meat/seafood, noodles, dishes with rice and finally soup and sides. With a good mix from classics such as pad thai, massamam  curry and papaya salads alongside mussel pancakes and thai omelettes there’s plenty of choice. On first impressions the menu looked reasonably priced, starters were hitting the £3 – £5.50 mark and most larger dishes were between £6.50 – £8.50, seafood dishes a little more expensive. 

I didn’t want to get sucked into ordering non-Thai favourites so went for southern Thai chicken wings, my friend went for the crispy wonton. For our main courses we both went for belly pork, one with rice and one with Morning Glory greens. Ordering was a grab a someone’s attention affair rather than waiting for someone to come to us, as they were bezzing around, this I didn’t mind as I didn’t really see it as a formal setting. With orders marked down on the menu, which also doubled as placemats our server quickly scurried off.

My chicken ‘wings’ (2 x wings, 2 x drumsticks) arrived with sweet chilli sauce, a crisp light batter coated the meat which was moist and juicy, a bit of oomph was provided by the chilli sauce. As much as I love things fried in batter, and I realise this is how it’s done in Thai cuisine, I do prefer them without the batter and just like the skin to be really crisp. The wontons opposite me were polished off quickly, I thought they looked a little light on filling, but my friend was satisfied and had no complaints. 

Southern thai chicken wings, crispy wonton
Southern thai chicken wings, crispy wonton
crispy wonton
Crispy wonton

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There was a quick turn around and before we new it our main dishes were brought across, both ordering crispy belly pork – mine with boiled rice and a sauce spiked with a bit of chilli heat. Being someone with a mild belly pork obsession, I’m a bit of a traditionalist having eaten it since childhood Chinese style. I have to admit I was a tad disappointed with it, after hearing many good reports recently. Similarly to the chicken, the pork was coated in a light coating of crisp batter, I’m not sure if they cook it twice as the meat was a little tougher than I’d like and even though the meat had a sweetness, the sauce was needed to make up for any lack of flavour. My steamed veg side arrived late and needed chasing up as they’d forgotten about it, what baffled me was they take the time to circle it on my placemat, but then don’t use it to check them off?! In hindsight, I probably should’ve gone for a dish with stir fried veg which would’ve been more flavourful, as they were quite plain. My friends dish was tasty, but she’d openly admit that she’s greedy and would’ve liked the portion to be more generous. 

Khow Moo Krob Jae Ban - rice with crispy belly pork
Khow Moo Krob Jae Ban – rice with crispy belly pork
Steamed vegetables
Steamed vegetables
Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng Moo Krob - stir fried morning gory with oyster, chilli and garlic, with crispy belly pork
Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng Moo Krob – stir fried Morning Glory with oyster sauce, garlic and chilli, with crispy belly pork

Overall  I think the concept’s good and I like how they’ve tried to transport people to the streets of Bangkok, there’s tonnes of choice on the menu and it’s kind on the pocket too. The staff were friendly, but the service wasn’t perfect and I’d say from a first visit the food was a little hit and miss, I liked it but I didn’t love it and there’s room for improvement. In an area where there’s lots of competition at the moment, there are other places I prefer more and will probably stick to them.

Zaap Thai

Grand Arcade

Leeds

LS1 6PG

http://www.zaapthai.co.uk
Click to add a blog post for Zaap Thai Street Food on Zomato

BangWok, Leeds

I got to try out BangWok last week, if the name rings a bell it may be because you’ve tried their street food at Trinity Kitchen? However, this time they won’t be leaving after a few weeks, as Dong and his tuk tuk have set up shop in the railway arches on Sovereign Street!! A bit unsure of where that is? Well, it’s in the space where burrito traders El Topo once resided. Still no clue? How about opposite the Hilton Hotel on Neville Street, the one where loads of commuters walk everyday in the city centre. 

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The menu is a short and snappy list of classic, thai street food dishes; salads, noodle and rice dishes, most of which can be left veggie or pimped up with meat, chicken, pork or prawn depending on the core dish. Prices are kept easy on the pocket, with dishes priced between £4.50 and £6.50.  I’m a sucker for a decent pad thai, it’s such an obvious choice for me, I rarely order anything else. Watching Dong speedily cook it within minutes, after a quick sprinkle of chilli flakes and crushed peanuts to taste, I perched on a stool and took my place at the counter. More than enough for a lunch break, it was tasty – hitting all the right notes of salty, sweet and sour, satisfyingly filling and served with a smile!

 

Pad Thai with chicken

I really hope this is a massive success for Dong and the BangWok team!!!

BangWok are open Monday – Friday lunchtimes (12 – 3 pm).

BangWok

Sovereign Street

Leeds  

http://bangwok.com/leeds/

My Thai, Leeds

Have you missed Thai Aroy Dee?? Since closing what seems like aeons ago, literally, I’ve received a number of emails asking if I might know when Thai Aroy Dee was re-opening and where. The last I heard, which was quite a while ago it may open in the Grand Arcade but who knows if this is really the case? I don’t, but I wish I did, because I think there are many of us who miss the place and it’s left a bit of a gap in the market.

A few weeks ago I was walking down to The Belgrave and as usual, looked left to see if Fuji (Fuji Hiro) was open, but what caught my eye more was what was next door – the signage My Thai

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For years this place has housed a number of different businesses, all have had short life-spans for one reason or another, but from my first visit to My Thai it seems like this place could be a keeper. This is their second venue, as they already have one in Bradford have have built a reputation and loyal following there already.

Wanting to find out for myself I popped in for a quick lunch yesterday. Just knowing that Fuji was next door, I did feel a bit guilty because I love Fuji, and it has a special place in my heart. But being a so-called food blogger, I couldn’t let that stop me trying this place out and giving it a fair chance. Stepping in from the street the place has been completely transformed into, well I’m not sure how to describe it, a Thai cafe/diner?

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For such a small space they’ve done well to fit in as many covers as possible, with lots of low level stools and more comfortable cushioned seating on the sides of the room. With the big window at the front and extra lighting they’ve managed to keep the space bright and gave it lots of character too.  Quirky, practical touches like easy access containers for cutlery and takeaways menus aid a no-fuss approach.

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I was their first customer that day, and I immediately found the people who run the place really friendly and bubbly. They seemed to have a great rapport and liked interacting with customers with their amusing banter.

Quickly being asked if I wanted a drink, I’d just come off the train from London so only really wanted a soft drink, but they also had Singha beer, wine and lots of herbal teas to choose from.

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The menu is very straight forward, you basically pick what you want on a sheet and say how many in the box, it reminded me a little of Chinese dim sum menu. Easy!

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Normally I’m a stickler for ordering exactly the same thing every time I go out for Thai, friends would testify to me always ordering prawn pad thai (no nuts), but I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone for a change and try something different. In hindsight, maybe this was a bad idea, because I could’ve compared it to others I’ve had before, but hey, it means I have another excuse to go!

A quick perusal showed me the menu is broken down into starters, such as chicken satay, spring rolls, ranging from just £1-2! All main courses have a take-away or eat in option, with prices varying for each and also depending on the main source of protein, e.g. tofu, duck, prawn etc. 

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You could choose between thai curries, noodle soups, fried rice, fried noodles in it’s different guises. I love rice noodles and liked the sound of the pattaya pad see ew with beef and the steamed pork dumplings.

Service was fairly brisk, as I was their only customer at the time, the pork dumplings were petite, lovely and moist, the light soy and spring onions gave it a little bit of saltiness and change in texture, They lasted just a couple of minutes if that! I wished they were bigger, but that would mean longer cooking time and for just £1.50, need I say more!!

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Steamed pork dumplings

A steaming bowl of freshly cooked noodles came my way, portion wise it was good and on first impressions there was plenty of everything that was supposed to be there – carrot, greens, egg, noodles and beef! I thought it was a tasty bowl and if i’m honest I would’ve liked the beef to be a little softer, but it was thinly sliced and doesn’t take much to cook it. Actually now thinking about it, I took that many bloody pictures of it, I probably didn’t start eating till a couple of minutes after receiving it!! Maybe it’s my own fault!! The veg had lovely crunch and the noodles were soft and it had enough seasoning to it. 

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During my short stop there, the place filled up with many eating in and a number of customers ordering take-aways too. I’d recommend My Thai, it’s a very welcome addition to the Leeds food scene!

My lunch came to £9 in total, without service, a bargain!!!

Food: Nice menu, food is cooked to order in the kitchen visible from the dining space.

Service: Friendly, out-going people, good banter, lovely service! Speed from the kitchen was good. 

Atmosphere: Even when quiet the place there was a good atmosphere due to the rapport from the staff and how they like to chat to customers. It’s a fairly small space so when it got busier there was a good sense of buzz of about the place. 

My Thai

43 Wade Lane

Leeds

LS2 8NJ

https://www.facebook.com/mythaileeds?ref=ts&fref=ts

My Thai on Urbanspoon

Thai A Roy Dee, Leeds

This review has been A LONG TIME COMING, Thai A Roy Dee has been a favourite for many, as well as one of my own for a while after a work colleague had raved on about it. I’ve been a number of times since and have never been anything but full and very content.

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With building work for the Victoria Gate development in Leeds city centre starting, the Twitter air waves were full of concerns on the closure of the restaurant. What quickly followed was a love and outpouring all echoing each other – we’d all be gutted if new premises couldn’t be found and they would have to shut up shop. Fast forward a few weeks and I read they’d found a base across the road in Grand Arcade which was amazing news, not just for me but for all their other fans, and Leeds’ independent food community as a whole!

In it’s current premises it has a restaurant/cafe aesthetic, it has a no fuss kind of interior, and what it lacks in space it makes up for it BIG TIME with its charm, and especially their authentic Thai food.

I quite fancied a starter and to be honest there was a number I could’ve picked but chose their chicken spring rolls (£3.95). They arrived quite pale in colour which first made me think they weren’t crisp, but I was very wrong! The first bite put my mind to rest with the undeniable sound of audible crispness. Filled with chicken, sweetcorn and vermicelli noodles, they were delicate in flavour, the sweet chilli dip is the obvious accompaniment because it just works, plain and simple. I really enjoyed the addition of the sweetcorn in the mix, it livened up what can often be a bland filling. 

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On seeing my spring rolls, my dining companion Harley Wood started getting a hankering for the Thai Prawn Crackers, which inevitably took over, here’s the proof. Fab they were too!! 

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Being a creature of habit I picked my usual – Prawn Pad Thai (no peanuts). Yes, I know it’s probably very boring to be picking the same dishes, but it’s a dish I really love and is a good way of comparing different restaurants. 

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My Pad Thai was particularly good, the prawns were perfectly cooked, juicy and moist. The rice noodles were well coated in sauce without being greasy, with bean sprouts and scrambled egg running through the dish, it made for a very tasty plate of food. 

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My side dish of vegetables was generous, with a portion size that could’ve classed it as a main dish in its own right! It could be so easy to overcook vegetables and end up with limp, tasteless items on a plate, but these were the complete opposite. All of them cooked so they still have bite and retained their natural flavours, which weren’t overpowered by any of the cooking liquor/sauce added during cooking. 

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It did take a little while longer for Harley Wood to get her main course of Pad Poh Taek, but boy was it worth the wait! It looked eye-poppingly amazing with so much mixed seafood in one dish, it was certainly one for the most ardent lover of seafood. I tried a bit of the squid which was tender and needed virtually no effort in eating it. The dish was packed with flavour with its mixture of accompanying ingredients including fennel, pepper and chilli. There was no need to ask how good the dish was as the sounds from the opposite side of the table was all the evidence I needed.

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Her side order of Pad Broccoli was just as sizeable as my own and for just a few quid is a bargain, also perfectly al dente with a little chilli making an awesome side. 

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I was so full I couldn’t eat it all, not for the want of trying! There was no way I was going to waste it, so I left with a nice little doggy bag which was quickly devoured as soon as I got home by the other half!

It’s no surprise why people keep flocking to Thai A Roy Dee, whether it’s for lunch or dinner. Their lunch deal (£6.95) is also a massive draw and hopefully I’m going to partake in this soon, as it is too good a deal to miss out on!

Our meal for two was just £28, such a bargain!

It closes VERY soon in order to set up shop across the road at the Grand Arcade, I’ll be back when Thai A Roy Dee are up and running in their new home!

Food: Arguably the best Thai in Leeds.

Service: The staff are always really friendly and helpful. 

Atmosphere: What the place lacks in size, it makes up for in its charm.

Value for money: Fantastic value, you’ll be well fed and satisfyingly full! 

Are you as relieved as I am that Thai A Roy Dee has found a new home in the Grand Arcade?
Thai A Roy Dee
112 Vicar Lane
Leeds
LS2 7NL
0113 245 2174

Thai Aroy Dee on Urbanspoon