Short version: There's a Thai only food menu. It's where all the good stuff is. They don't want to let you have any of it if you're not Thai. Even if you ask with the Thai names. Lots of times. When you finally get it it's amazing.
Ok. There's a big problem for me here: There's a Thai only menu. And they really, really don't want to give it up. I didn't think this would be such an issue as it's written online, and the dishes are written phonetically as well as in Thai script, so I know what they are and can order them with their Thai names. I also have to admit that in most restaurants with this "secret menu" set-up, if you do order from it as an English speaker you are usually treated very well and the staff often seem pleased you have done it (in @Siam we were told they had one after chatting with staff, who told us if we called before coming we could have it translated!) Not at Thai Rice.
The problem that restaurants with a separate menu for native speakers see themselves as having is that uninformed, naive whiteys may come in and order something that is too pungent or strong for their tastes. The likelihood is they will then complain and demand their money back. They may also be a little shocked that their dish was so "weird" and "nasty". Maybe. Then not only does the restaurant lose food and money, but also repeat (and possibly new) customers as well. Bad. So they transfer all the pungent, strong (read: delicious) food to a Thai only menu. And hide it. (Note here: I find it kind of insane to send something back if there's nothing wrong with it, you just don't like the taste, but HEY)
There's a big problem though. It's impossible to tell someones tastes, interests and behaviour from colour of skin or language alone. You only need to read some Yelp reviews for Asian restaurants to see that a quite a few of us British like our food very nasty, and very weird. We may not have been brought up on it but we have grown to love our food fermented, funky and searingly hot and sour. But I understand restaurants erring on the side of caution, it's a struggle in todays economy to run a business, and businesses need all the custom they can get.
However. When I trek over an hour from where I am to get somewhere, because I've heard how amazing the Isaan food is. And I've seen the "Special Thai Menu" online and chosen what I'm going to have. Then I get to the restaurant and ask (very nicely) if they have the som tum pu? And am told "[Laughing] No... We don't do that one" so I try and explain (as it could just be my accent and the fact my Thai is AWFUL) that I like the som tum with the fermented little crabs and am told again "No. No. Only these som tum" which are the som tum on the English menu. So I load the Thai menu on my phone and my husband goes over and quietly shows the waiter the som tum pu and tells him we really, really do want it. Then suddenly it does exist. After being asked multiple times "The crabs are very small though. Are you sure you like it? Will you definitely eat it?" he finally backs down. There is visible concern behind the bar.
It arrives. A waitress brings it and checks again "Are you sure you like this one? Have you had it before?" It's amazing. The fermented crabs are delicious. It's my favourite type of som tum which is obviously why I ordered it. The sai krok issan (Isaan sausages) are beautiful, and the sticky rice is perfect. But the pork "jungle curry" off the English menu (we weren't about to battle with another Thai menu request) isn't good at all. No pea aubergines. And it has bell peppers in, which is really odd and doesn't work.
I don't see why the restaurants that do this can't either just be honest in the English menu and write the dishes for what they are, so that no-one gets any "nasty" surprises (i.e. Som Tum Pu (Som tum with small, fermented river crabs) no-one in their right mind is going to order that that doesn't know EXACTLY what they're in for, and that they're going to enjoy it a lot. And if they still order it, surely it's great that they're open enough to try new flavours and move away from the coloured curry and pad thai regime? Or maybe have the Thai menu as a Thai menu, but if someone requests it, and can read it and want's something from it, let them have it! If restaurants aren't happy to do that then please at least when someone comes in, orders the dish with it's Thai name, explains they know whats in the dish and like it. Let them order it!
Stop holding me back from delicious foods that I want to eat Thai Rice!
(Your som tum pu is really very good. I almost forgive you.)
Had a lovely evening her I love Thai food and this restaurant we will Visit again staff very freindly food great service great.
also it is good value for money i recommend it
yummy, yummy yummy! My friend and I shared a prawn tom yum soup, a chicken red curry, some veg and 2 coconut rice (we initially ordered one but it was quite small and we werre very hungry!) the best thing about the cocunut rice is it actually came in a little cocunut! so cute!
Very nice Thai food in Parsons Green. All of the dishes we sampled were tasty, especially liked the crispy duck starter and prawn main. Very tasty and fair rice for the portions and quality. Nice option for something light and tasty.
One of my first stops that I ate at. I was starving n jet lagged and it was right down stairs from my friends pad
I had high expectations of this restaurant after it was recommended to me, but I left quite disappointed with it. The food was quite pricey for its quality and preparation, and the decor is quite pretentious. I've had much better Thai food in London to be perfectly honest.
I have visited Thailand so I was very disappointed with the quality of the takeaway. The green curry did not have much meat and large chunks of undercooked potato, this was also reflected in the yellow curry and the massaman curry. The rice was ok. The food was all luke warm or cold and the portion sizes was really quite small. The order took over an hour and fourty five minutes to prepare, when hungry house had specified that it would be delivered 40mins at the latest. The restaurant did not ring my contact number I had provided to even let me know that they were running very late. I subsequently rang in which I was told various reasons why I had not received the order. To begin with we live a 5 minute drive from the restaurant. We were told that they had just received the order, we were then told that the restaurant was fully and they were extremely busy, we were also told that the delivery driver had been in an accident and had not returned back to the restaurant, we were also told we would have to wait another 20-30 minutes for our order. The manager finally came to the phone and said that it would be ready in 10minutes and delivered to our door. After waiting 15 minutes I rung the restaurant to ask whether the order had left the restaurant. I was told that it had been cooked and they were waiting for the return of the driver. I decided at that point I would go to the restaurant to pick up the order as it was really unacceptable. Upon reaching the restaurant the dining room was not even a 1/3 full. The order was waiting on the counter and their delivery driver was leaving with another customers order. I did receive an apology in the end and a significant discount however I will not be visiting/ordering from the restaurant again. The food was poor quality and the service was even worse. I am very glad that I had been offered a partial refund as the food certainly was not up to standard and would not have been worth anywhere near the full price initially charged. For a restaurant in Chelsea just near the kings road I really expected more. Very disappointing!
Thai Rice is friendly family run restaurant renowned among the Thai's for is mouth watering noodle dishes and exclusive Thai menu. Coupled with the combination of excellent food, a welcoming ambience, contemporary décor and fast, friendly service, Thai Rice offers the perfect dining experience. We take great pride in the cooking and presentation of our food and our aim is to deliver excellent cuisine at a reasonable price. The menu includes some delicious vegetarian options and is complemented by a high-quality wine list. For more information please visit our website.
Established in 2003.
Thai Rice was founded 9 years ago on Portobello Road, by the Head Chef and Owner, Saowanee (Ae, to her friends & customers). Her cooking soon became famed among the Thai community here & back home in her native Thailand.
Using traditional family recipes and fresh ingredients to produce authentic Thai cuisine, the restaurant has enjoyed a great deal of success and led to the opening of this, the Fulham branch of Thai Rice - Ae's Kitchen, where she will be found satisfying the taste buds of the great many Thai's who travel from far a field to get the true taste of back home.
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