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Restaurants & Bars

Two Thai places, London

limster | Jun 6, 200904:52 PM     5

• Benja, Soho
Pleasant minced lamb contrasted with herbal notes from the betel leaf wrapping, not grand, but decently tasty.

A nice green prawn curry, creamy with coconut milk and a good aroma of basil, with fairly well prepared prawns (pretty good rippy texture), adorable baby aubergines and bamboo with a shadow of its sharp texture. The curry needs to be significantly hotter to balance the coconut milk and other spices in it; more basil would be an improvement too.

Thai iced tea ice cream is exactly like tea iced tea, but in a creamy frozen form, delicious.

Nice and sweet on the whole, and pretty interiors, but nothing special.

• Esarn Kheow, Sheppard's Bush

Isaan style grilled pork sausages with a mild, desirable soury finish, accompanied by peanuts, ginger and chilli. Not bad, but perhaps a touch more chilli would be good. I liked the version at 101 Thai more (generally more robust flavours).

Minced catfish salad had a fairly good and savoury combination of flavours, a tiny tiny bit of sweet (shallots?), the pungence and umami of fish sauce, a well rounded limey aroma and crisp acidity, various earthy and airy notes from herbs and spices, and a shade of chilli heat. Needs way more spicy heat to balance the rest of the flavours, especially the lime. Ate with the standard accompaniment of sticky rice.

Interesting dessert special. Two contrasting types of sweets. First, ovoids made with mashed beans glossed with a sweetness of rose syrup. Second, little square baskets made with pandan leaves containing a very lightly pandan flavoured jelly with sharp crunchy bites from waterchestnuts and a creamy cloak of coconut milk, enlivened with a nuanced pinch of salt. Quite nice, but not nearly as refined and carefully made as the comparable (almost similar profile of flavours) nyona kueh at Sedap.

Enjoyable (sort of a good not great experience), if a very tiny touch expensive for what it was. I think I liked my meals at 101 Thai more, but it's been a while since I've eaten there. Would obviously need a better sample size for a real head to head.

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