The Best Thai Restaurants In London
Since opening its first restaurant in Spitalfields 14 years ago, Rosa’s Thai has sold over 1.4m pad thais. Founded by Saiphin Moore, the mini chain now has multiple sites in London and is one of our favourite spots for a quick, affordable dinner. Rosa’s Thai began life as a street stall at Brick Lane’s Sunday market, quickly becoming a hit with the locals. By summer 2008, Saiphin had bought an old greasy spoon on Hanbury Street, with the help of friends, family and credit cards. They kept the original name of Rosa’s out of respect for its previous owner (and because there was no money for new signs). To this day, Rosa’s serves authentic Thai food in a no-frills and relaxed atmosphere. The team’s sweetcorn patties are one of our favourite dishes on this list.
We love Farang’s signature (and well-named) crying tiger chilli beef noodles – a cold noodle salad with bags of heat and flavour. Farang began in 2015 when chef Sebby Holmes began trading at street food markets out the back of his car across London. A year later he took up residency in Farang’s current home in Highbury & Islington as a pop-up. After rave reviews, he took on the space permanently and since then, it’s gone from strength to strength, having been inducted into the National Restaurant Awards top 100 and awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. The team also received a Thai select award from the UK Thai Embassy, which certifies authenticity and freshness of ingredients. Don’t know where to start? We recommend the feasting menu (think whole sharing crispy seabass dressed in a coconut and mandarin dressing), washed down with a watermelon spritz.
Speedboat Bar is the second Thai restaurant from critically acclaimed chef Luke Farrell and JKS Restaurants (the team behind hit London restaurants Gymkhana, Lyle’s, Bao and Kitchen Table) – and it’s a lot of fun. The relaxed bar aims to bring a taste of the Thai-Chinese restaurants on Bangkok’s neon-lit Yaowarat Road to London: think wok-flamed cooking of sticky meat braises, drunken noodles, curries, fermented vegetables and zingy seafood salads hit with acid and chilli. There’s lots of heat and spice, so make sure you finish with a refreshing whisky soda. In Soho and fancy one for the road? The Upstairs Bar is perfect for late-night drinks.
Plaza Khao Gaeng
We loved Arcade Food Theatre when it launched at the bottom of brutalist hotspot Centrepoint. Last year, it reopened with nine new restaurant concepts created by one of London’s most exciting restaurant groups, JKS. The team brought together some of the capital’s best-loved names, creating an atmospheric space that combines open kitchens, chef’s tables and canteen-style seating. Arcade Food Hall opens for walk-ins and bookings, and guests can order direct-to-table from each of the restaurant kitchens via QR codes on menus. One of our favourite spots is Plaza Khao Gaeng, a southern Thai restaurant – and another cool concept from Luke Farrell – where guests can order the likes of sea bream with chillies, makrut lime leaves and jungle herbs; and stir-fried crown prince pumpkin with egg and Chinese chives.
Som Saa is an atmospheric spot in east London serving up regional Thai classics. We love to order the tua phrik krob (deep fried cashew nuts with makrut lime leaf and dried chilli), nang gai thort (crispy chicken skin served with sriracha sauce), gai yaang (grilled chicken skewer served with a tamarind jaew dip) and nahm phrik lon gung (fresh coconut cream relish of prawns, ma-euk fruit and white tumeric served with vegetables and herbs to dip). Its cocktail bar is open for drinks throughout the evening and serves the likes of the ‘Rak Tong Ham’, a refreshing mix of chilli, cucumber, basil and lime leaf-infused tequila, elderflower, lime and pomegranate.
On Brewer Street, Michelin-starred Kiln serves some of the most uncompromisingly spicy, authentic Thai food in central London. Inspired by the rural cooking across the borderlands of Thailand where influences stretch from Yunnan to Laos, dishes are cooked over open fire, with a short grill menu and specialty noodle dishes. All cooked on hot coals beneath tao pots and grills, it's the type of food you genuinely couldn’t make at home. A seat near the open kitchen is the place to be, as you watch the chefs create the likes of pounded hake with Cornish radish; sour curry of mussels with winter squash; and the must-order clay pot-baked glass noodles with Tamworth belly and brown crab meat.
Award-winning neighbourhood Thai restaurant Kaosarn first opened in Brixton Market in 2011 – and its legion of loyal fans, including restaurant critic Jay Rayner, have kept it going ever since. Away from its popular Brixton site and newest spot in Tooting, the family run restaurant has a neighbourhood spot by Clapham Common. While not essential, guests are invited to bring their own beer or wine, making an experience here good value for money. Great for groups, we like to order the grilled half chicken with sticky rice, and a side of spicy papaya salad.
Since Ben Chapman and Brian Hannon opened the doors on Redchurch Street in 2017, after relocating from the Soho site they opened in 2014, Smoking Goat has built something of a cult following in Shoreditch – not least because Brian and Ben opened the now Michelin-starred Basque-inspired Brat above Smoking Goat in 2018. Smoking Goat itself serves interpretations of Northern and North-Eastern Thai BBQ dishes with a thoughtfully built supply chain of rare-breed meats and day-boat fish from small production farmers and fisherman guiding the menus. Their longstanding projects with innovative growers mean Thai chillies, herbs and fruits are grown here in meaningful quantities and used throughout the year. Until 2nd April, the cult Thai BBQ bar has been transformed into a Thai-style fried chicken spot. Get in there while you can.
The Begging Bowl is a popular Thai restaurant in Peckham. The space – decked out in colourful wood and plenty of plants – is the perfect backdrop for sampling the kitchen’s authentic take on Thai cuisine. Highlights from the menu include stir-fried aubergine with fermented yellow bean and Thai basil; seabass soup with red turmeric and ginger; and pineapple with dried prawns, kanom jin noodles and fish balls. Make sure to order the condensed milk ice-cream to finish.
After a successful pop-up at Rondo La Cave at Hoxton Holborn, Chris Yenembarnaoong was offered a permanent spot when The Hoxton opened its fourth London hotel at the end of 2022. On the food front, our favourite space in the hotel is Chris’s Thai-Americana restaurant Chet’s, which serves up fiery flavours, natural wines and spicy coriander martinis. Combining the fragrant flavours and smoky textures of Thailand and the surrounding region with comforts from the classic American diner, guests can expect to sample the likes of pineapple and crab rice with garlic, onion and peanuts; and pad thai sautéed with prik tum garlic, chilli paste, whole lobster, egg, onion, tomato and golden mountain sauce.
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