The luxury of eating out may now feel like a novelty amidst our temporary new global quarantine lifestyle but one restaurant to place firmly at the top of your list once London’s restaurant scene re-opens is Nipa Thai – one of the most authentic Thai experiences outside Thailand.
Being a self-proclaimed Phad Thai enthusiast, I was incredibly excited to take a Thursday evening visit to this award-winning restaurant. Between me and my dining companion, we’ve tried the majority of Thai establishments in London so we couldn’t wait to explore Nipa Thai.
Tucked away on the first floor of the upscale Royal Lancaster London, Nipa Thai (which translates to shining light) is one of the capitals original Thai eateries – having been open for 20 years with stunning views over Hyde Park, the restaurant is headed up by an all-powerful all female kitchen team.
The Lancaster London may seem contemporary from the outside but inside the restaurant is undeniably traditional and the hospitality is relaxed and confident. The floor staff instantly greet us in Thai, before we are guided to our Hyde Park view white clothed table. We order lychee martinis whilst we scan a notably alternative menu.
Thai cooking is all about balancing five key flavours: sweet, sour, spicy, bitter and salty. Renowned for its finesse and delicacy in balancing hot spices with mild and sweet flavours, Nipa Thai’s menu has been designed by fearless head chef Sanguan Parr. Known for her skills in creating traditional dishes from Thailand’s central region, her signature dish (to my delight!) is Phad Thai, with the prawn version exceeding my expectations – it was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Not stopping at just Phad Thai, we also ordered specialities such as Pla Nueng Ma Nao (steamed seabass in a garlic, lemongrass, lime leaf and chilli broth) and Panang Nuea Rue Moo (dry and aromatic beef red coconut curry with basil and kaffir lime leaves) to share. We also started with Ruam Mitr, a healthy and delicious selection of chef’s recommended Thai starters for two, including fish cakes, char-grilled marinated chicken, spring rolls and the pièce de résistance – crisp fried prawn dumplings.
Adorned with traditional Thai furnishings including a teak panelled interior with ornately crafted decorations, the authentic décor really complemented the cuisine which was served by a fully Thai team. The invigorating smell of Lemongrass oil gently permeating the restaurant only added to the experience.
Nipa Thai is distinctively seasoned from that of its competitors and it’s clear to see why it’s stood the test of time. Spacious and tangibly charismatic, proper Thai cooking will be served up against those unmatchable English views for many years to come.
To discover more, visit: www.niparestaurant.co.uk
Further to visiting Nipa Thai, the restaurant made the difficult decision to close until further notice following advice from the Government surrounding the global outbreak of COVID-19 to ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests and team members.
By Jess Henley
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