Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Busaba Eathai, Shoreditch, London

Posted by P Jeetun at 07:16

Busaba Eathai, Shoreditch, London

Busaba Eathai is a very successful chain of trendy Thai restaurants, located around central London with usually queues of people wanting to get in. They recently opened up a new restaurant in the trendy part of Shoreditch on Old Street. They have excited their customers with their modern and interesting approach to Thai food and just about keep their customers engaged with happy service and modern food. Like any successful chain though they do have problems maintaining their quality with some items on their menu but have some standout items such as the pad thai that ensure Mrs NMFS and I will come back.
The decor is in keeping with the trendy location in Hoxton, with lighting and clean lines adding to the trendy ambience. We had to queue up for a while in a long line carefully marshalled by a friendly ‘bouncer’. He admired our patience though in also wanting to wait for a booth seat to become available. Much as I recognise the popularity of communal eating arrangements, the large tables with bench seating at Busaba Eathai can be a bit cramped and feel claustrophobic so we generally ask for seating by the window, which offers generally more space and comfort. Londoners can also be a bit too reserved for communal eating to work.
Romantic window seats
Once we finally got the window seats that we wanted, we were happy to be able to sit down and browse through the menu which is full of interesting combinations. The lighting is very good with nice lanterns adding a romantic feel to the place.
Busaba explanation

It was nice to see that the menu explains the philosophy behind the restaurant and this is seen in the quick service and choice of ingredients.
Tea better than the juice
We were intrigued by the juices, wondering whether the combinations would work so I decided to try the jasmine smoothie with passion fruit, banana, orange and yoghurt.
Too many bananas!
I had high expectations with the hope of trying subtle jasmine tones, but unfortunately this drink seriously disappointed since the banana was too overpowering and proved to be the dominating flavour. I could not really taste the jasmine, which for a jasmine smoothie is quite disappointing. Either the recipe is a bad one or someone did not taste it before sending it out
Great ginger tea
Mrs NMFS went for her favourite, ginger and honey tea served with cashew and coconut cookie. This drink is a success and reasonably priced. The cookie, unfortunately we cannot have due to the gluten, but we usually keep it to give to someone else. We get good reports on these cookies though as being light and tasty. Back to the tea, the reason why it works so well is due to its simplicity. It simply comprises of fresh shredded ginger with honey. Where the jasmine smoothie fails, the tea succeeds in relying on the ingredients to offer great flavours. The tea is also less sweet than traditional ginger tea.
Curry galore
For some reason we rarely go for the green or red Thai curries as often they disappoint and fail to deliver the sweet and sour flavours that we associate with Thai food following our love of som tum. Today I decided to go for the stargazer monkfish green curry with pea aubergine and corn as I fancied something hot.
Soup or curry?
The curry came in a large bowl with the fish swimming in the sauce. Some may not appreciate so much sauce and if you were to have it on your own with one serving of rice, it would just not be enough rice. In the end it was bit like a soup but a pleasant one. The curry packed a good amount of heat and whilst the fish could have been given more generously, it was a pleasant curry with the good addition of the pea aubergine and corn elevating the dish above merely a green curry. It is a dish that I would enjoy again.
Star of the show
Great pad thai!
The star of the show is the pad thai and this is what brings us back to Busaba Eathai.
The pad thai is done very well here and we usually go for the sen chan with the added crabmeat and green mango adding more flavour. It is disappointing to see pad thai done badly with sloppy, oily blobs of noodles offered as poor excuses for pad thai. Here you get it as it should be, tasty rice noodles mixed in a nice fresh dressing of soy, lime and fish sauce. The green mango and crabmeat are a combination which works very well. The dish is well presented and reasonably priced in relative terms.
Unmitigated disaster...
Mrs NMFS also wanted something spicy so she also ordered the tom yam talay. It was a big disappointment. The flavour of the pad thai before this was totally lacking. I could only muster two spoonfuls. The spicy sour soup was very bland with a hint of bad taste in the background. This dish did not have any redeeming features to mention.
Buzzing atmosphere
Busaba Eathai offers a good atmosphere with quick and friendly service with some good dishes but also some poor ones. If you want good pad thai with a nice ginger tea I would recommend it but be wary of some of the other items on the menu.

So, do you enjoy communal eating?

Busaba Eathai on Urbanspoon


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