Restaurant: Khao San
Address: 50-52 Walmgate
Prices: £9 – £20 for main
Review: Pippa Dyble
Khao San Rd, deemed the ‘new Thai restaurant on the block’, immediately grabbed my attention. I couldn’t wait to go in and take a look around, especially as Thai is one of my favourite cuisines.
Nestled in amongst the shops, hairdressers and charity shops on Walmgate, the restaurant looked warm and inviting; a very welcome haven out of the bitter chill.
First appearances were a pleasant surprise – I almost felt I was stepping in to Thailand. The authentic ambience, warm lights, stylish modern Thai artwork, and subtle jazz music made me at once feel at ease; transporting me out of the customary York atmosphere.
Although slightly pushed to one corner, the window table was a perfect setting for two friends out for dinner and ready for a catch-up.
In much need of a good drink, we ordered a bottle of the Italian Merlot (2008), which was delicate to the palate and something to warm the insides whilst we earnestly pondered over the Thai menu.
Although far too many waitresses were slightly too eager to wait on us, coming immediately to the table to ask if we were ready to order, they were extremely polite and attentive.
Decision time. Happily the worst part of the whole evening. What do you do when faced with multiple options of starters and mains, all sounding equally as appetising?
After much deliberation, we opted for the prawn and pork on crispy seaweed served with Thai plum sauce, and chicken skewers served with a peanut dipping sauce for starters. For main, my friend chose the Thai green curry with aubergine, bean, zucchini and Thai sweet basil, whilst I chose the Pan seared duck breast with Thai eggplant (how American), beans, lychee, cherry tomatoes and Thai red curry sauce. Both meals came with a choice of normal, fragrant, coconut or garlic rice – a rather exciting additional twist. Whilst we were gossiping, enjoying the mood, the fantastic, though almost too friendly, waitress brought to the table authentic prawn crackers with sweet chilli sauce – far over and above the quality of greasy standard Chinese take-away prawn crackers!
The starters arrived soon after, and were stylishly presented. We decided to share, to get a flavour of both – quickly both agreeing that the prawn and pork seaweed were a definite winner: highly recommended!
Seemingly without any respite whatsoever, the main course arrived, something I can’t say particularly endeared me to the place.
However, both meals were exquisitely presented: a dome of rice, garnished with salad on a square plate with a bowl of the selected dish adjacent ready to spoon onto the plate.
The Thai green curry, although a very traditional – if not slightly cliched – meal, had a really great taste but was not by any means the most exciting thing on the menu.
The chicken was cooked just right and was wonderfully tender, whilst the portion size was fair. The duck main was again cooked to perfection and the combination of ingredients worked extremely well. Though only given two stars out of three on the Khao San ‘hot-rating’, I was quite taken aback by the spiciness of the dish. However, the coconut rice complimented the spice very well and the meal as a whole was extremely enjoyable, and extremely filling.
We didn’t fancy the banana split, even after the waitress said we could kick her if we didn’t like the custard
The waitress brought to our table the dessert menu, which was disappointingly not very extensive – but after spicy Thai, the idea of sweet dessert didn’t bode particularly well. We didn’t fancy the banana split or the Thai coconut custard – even after the waitress said we could kick her if we didn’t like the custard!
Overall the restaurant was charming, and a refreshing break from the restaurants we all know so well in York. I highly recommend Khao San to anyone: especially if you are a fan of spicy food and very keen waitresses!