Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Tues 4 Sept 2007

Midweek eating is a funny thing. The city centre is so much quieter, restaurants have fewer patrons and I'm always torn between going for a drink before or after my meal. I loathe eating in empty restaurants so any midweek venture is accompanied by a sneak peek to check we won't be rattling around the tables by ourselves!

Last night, we felt like Thai and, amongst the usual head-scratching which accompanies the very serious business of restaurant selection, we hit upon Maitai. This restaurant has a tiny frontage on Lower Briggate and it's easy to miss. We've been walking past and saying 'we must go there' for ages so it was definitely time to bite the bullet.

Apart from a fellow diner whose phone kept ringing, the restaurant was quiet, but with enough diners to not feel alone. We started (as always) with beers (Singha) and, as we had cheated and inspected the menu on-line, we were able to make some swift food related decisions. To start, I opted for the poh pia tod (spring rolls) and Andy had the kanom jeeb - steamed pork and prawn dumplings topped with a mixture of garlic and soy sauce which was delicious. The spring rolls were also good: a crisp skin (not dripping in oil), a well textured filling and plenty of sweet chilli dipping sauce (that said, I would have been quite happy to swap for a dipping sauce similar to that on the dumplings!).

Although the starters had arrived rather swiftly, we did have a pause before our main courses. Gaeng Paenang for me: a red curry, made with beef and plenty of lime leaves and sliced red chillis. While the curry sauce wasn't quite as thick as I was expecting (since the menu is careful to make the distinction), it was a good, fiery curry with lots of flavour. The only problem was the beef. I think that, in a curry, you need generous cubes of meat and a lot of long, slow cooking so that the meat falls apart. This beef was more along the lines of stir fry strips and so, despite the rich curry sauce, was a little tough and dry.

Andy's Pla Raad Khing (fried fish with a ginger sauce) was also tasty: the sauce was laden with julienned ginger and the combination worked well. We had ordered plain rice for two, and while the heat of my curry meant that I was unable to mop up all the gravy, Andy's fish provided him with plenty of (less spicy) sauce for the same purpose.

By the time we finished, we were full. Some rice remained uneaten, more than one or two sliced chillis wallowed in my remaining curry sauce and Andy's plate was clean. The bill came to just over £30. Leeds has a lot of Thai restaurants and, increasingly, it seems that the cheaper restaurants in less flashy locations, represent not only better value for money but overall better food. Maitai fits this bill perfectly.

1. Maitai, 159 Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LY, phone: 0113 2431989

Other Thai restaurants we've visited: Thai Cottage, Jinos and Café Thai. Chaophraya and Sala Thai are more fancy (and expensive) nights out.

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