19 Oct Thai Street Food Challenge in Leeds,UK
My Thai Street Food Challenge in Leeds.
Street Food is one of the greatest culinary experiences that visitors can immerse themselves into, when they are in Bangkok, Thailand. The glaring neon light from stalls, the bright orange from the flaming hobs, the buzz of busy roads where lots of cars and pedestrians pass. Not to mention, the sharing table, you just never know whom you will be sitting next to. Not only the freshly prepared food that tingles your taste buds but also all your senses are awakened by the whole street food scene.
Well, you don’t have to go far, to embrace that unique experience. Today, I am in Leeds one of the fastest growing cities in England. Leeds is packed full of great restaurants and bars. You will never run out of places to eat. There are also plenty of Thai restaurant choices. I was lucky enough to visit these Thai Street Food places. They are all special in their own way. I will introduce you, to the real authentic street food beyond the green and red curry. And believe me those dishes are worth a try.
First Stop: My Thai on Wade Lane, the pioneer of Thai Street Food theme in Leeds. It started from a very small unit in Merrion Centre but because of their delicious food, simple approach and friendly service. My Thai underwent a big renovation and expanded their wings to various branches from York to Manchester.
I met Auntie Vena, a lady with lots of energy. I am grateful that Auntie Vena spent her time with me. She explained that most of the menu /recipes are based on the real Thai street food, the average price per dish is about £ 6.50-7.50 and come in generous portions, hence the very good value. My Thai is proven very popular and can cater up to 200-300 customers per day.
The decoration is simple but tasteful. I looked at the illustration on one of the walls and it made me smile it was the Late Majesty King Bhumibol. If you have been to Thailand, every household and almost every street food stall will have a picture of the great King somewhere. There are a few big tables cater to big parties or for sharing the table in the busiest times.
I tried the Yen-Ta-Pho (Rice noodles seafood soup served in red fermented bean curd broth). This soup originated from China but has proven extremely popular in South East Asia. It is not too spicy, fresh but yet comforting which is perfect for autumn. If you want to try something a bit different, why don’t give this soup a go?
I also had Yum Ta-lay (Spicy seafood and glass noodle salad). This dish is great for people who watch their weight, as it is extremely low in fat and high in protein. The presentation is amazing and plentiful. I can tell that their seafood is fresh. It might be wise to ask them to put the dipping sauce in a separate dipping bowl though, as it can be spicy for some. They have got plenty of drinking choices and their pink cider is so good. I left My Thai with a satisfying feeling and a happy tummy.
I walked down Merrion Street towards Grand Arcade. My second stop for Thai street food challenge in Leeds was Zaap Thai Street Food. It opened in 2015 and it is the biggest Thai Street food restaurant in Leeds I was amazed by the ambience and decoration, which takes me back to the city of Bangkok.
They really put lots of effort to transform this area of Grand Arcade to something special. The neon signage, Tuk Tuk, Thai music and even down to serving your dish in an aluminium tray. My daughter ordered her usual Ka-Nom-Jeeb (Pork and prawns dumpling), Chicken Satay and Khao-Neaw (Sticky rice). And yes she finished the dinner off in no time.
These starters as a main combination are great if you bring your little one along. I ordered a Thai traditional set Som-Tum (Papaya salad), Moo Yang (Barbeque pork), which is healthy, delicious and is catered for western palette. I also ordered Pla-Pao (Grilled whole sea bass), which comes with the steamed rice and two types of dipping sauce. The fish was well cooked, with a chargrilled effect yet moist inside. Easy to debone.
I finished my meal off with Tum-Tim Grob (Water chestnut in the refreshing icy coconut milk). It comes in a big dessert bowl, so sharing with your friend is advisable. It can be too sweet for some but I love it, as it clears the palette. I left Zaap with all my senses awakened, as it’s not only good food but also wonderful décor and a great vibe from the staff eagerly providing a good service. It is just fun to be here.
Next day, I walked down (or I should say rolled down) to Vicar Lane toward Kirkgate Market, the iconic landmark in Leeds where my next destination was located. Khao Gaeng Thai has been opened for 1 year in Kirkgate Market. It is small but mighty and has very tasty food.
The price range is between £ 5-6 for the main course, which such a good value. If you are not after somewhere fancy. It worth giving Khao Gaeng Thai a go. I met Chef Yong who kindly showed me how to cook his noodle dishes including the famous Pad Thai. The silky soft rice noodles go well with the crispy fresh bean sprouts, not to mention the intense flavour of tamarind sauce and creamy egg. And it is so delicious.
I visited them for lunch, which is the busiest time, but the staffs are very friendly and we’re very happy for me to observe them. Everyone moves so quickly yet synchronised. Although, it was a compact space. Chef Yong told me that he bought most of the fresh ingredients from the market this morning. A bonus for the customers, I would say. Everything is cooked on spot hence their food is hot, fresh and quick. These are the main characters, which make us fall in love with Thai Street food.
I said goodbye to all the staff. I said I will be back soon.
I came out from the market towards the Corn Exchange then turned right onto Duncan Street. Voila! Here I am at my last Thai street food challenge in Leeds destination Mommy Thai (Pronounce Mom-Mae).
It is a new kid on the block. It has just opened, and proven very popular. I love the way they have decorated this historic building into a local Thai street food place in Bangkok. It is a medium size restaurant. I spoke to auntie Ouoy. She told me that she is has worked here every day since the place was opened!
There are a few Thai customers here, which is always a good sign. I tried Khao-Klook-Ka-pi (Pork and mild Shrimp paste fried rice with shredded mango) this authentic Thai dish is a big seller among the customers. The fragrance fried rice accompanied with the sweet cured meat, egg, chilli, red onion and mango. It is considered a delicate dish in Thailand because there are lots of ingredients and each element require lengthy preparation. And this dish did not disappoint .it is absolutely delicious and I love the freshness of the mango which cut through the earthy taste of fried rice.
I also tried Chicken Koi-Soy (Noodles in mild coconut milk curry) This Northern Thai soup is perfect for a cold evening. The soft noodles go well with the velvety creamy coconut milk …just lovely. The average price per dish is between £ 6.50-8.50, which I consider good value. I asked auntie Oauy what is the speciality here; she whispered to me closely…”Everything, If you require any Thai dish which isn’t on the menu they will be happy to cook it for you. Brilliant, I can let my imagination (about food) run wild here.
As some of you may know, I am a Thai recipe developer. My highlight of the Thai Street food challenge in Leeds visit are not only the chance to taste the real Thai Street Food dishes.But also the courteus from staffs who made the whole experience so special.It is a beautiful character of Thais which always make others feel welcome. Happy Food,Happy Tum !
You can check some of my recipes on https://www.thaifoodmadeeasy.com/
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thaifoodmakeasy/
Author: Marni Xuto