Friday, January 04, 2008


Thurs 28 Dec 2007

I mentioned a little while ago that a new Thai restaurant had opened in Headingley and it wasn't going to be long before I headed over the road to check it out. I've eaten at Sukhothai in Chapel Allerton and really enjoyed it so I was hoping for good things.

The executive summary? Things were good.

The starters chosen were spring rolls (poh piah tod), chicken toast (khanom pang gai) and crispy noodles (mee krob) - along with the obligatory prawn crackers, chilli sauce and some cold beers.

The last three of these you pretty much cannot go wrong with and, while I was a tad disappointed with my rather small and pastry intensive spring rolls, the chicken toast received a definite thumbs up as did the massive portion of crispy noodles. So maybe I am wrong to like my spring rolls larger, bursting with a varied, spicy filling and to have the wrappers crispy the whole way through, rather than slightly doughy in the middle.

Whatever reservations I had over my starter were laid aside for the main courses. With three of us we managed a good selection: duck red curry, beef in spices fried with garlic and black pepper and a mixed seafood stir fry.

These were all generous servings and were all enjoyed. While I had tastes of the duck and the seafood stirfry my own choice had been the beef and it was delicious. The slices of beef were large enough to have some substance to them, but not stringy, tough or over cooked. The sauce had (for me) a great mix of chilli and black pepper heat, and there was just enough of it to warrant a bit of extra rice at the end for mopping up without drowning my steak.

The service was efficient and friendly and although the restaurant was busy we never felt rushed. This doesn't mean we dawdled over our meal for hours (and to be honest, with work the next day we didn't want to) and the pace might be a little frenetic for a weekend but we never wanted for drinks and never had the sense that they were trying to turn over tables as quickly as possible. This is commendable because, when we left, there were people waiting to be seated. We managed to test out the service by leaving behind a bag of shopping. One of us rang the restaurant while another raced back to retrieve it. Apparently when Andy arrived back at Sukhothai the waiters had the bag ready to hand over and recognised him immediately.

It is unfair, but rather easy, to draw comparison between Sukhothai and its near neighbour, Jino's. Jino's is casual, cheap, cheerful and basic - it's BYO policy with free corkage says it all. Sukhothai is a far more formal affair: dark wood, uniformed waiting staff, and a wine and beer list. Realistically, diners should go to the two restaurants for two completely different reasons. The restaurant that might suffer is Sala Thai on Shaw Lane ... one that I haven't visited for a long time and think I should head to soon ...

1. Sukhothai, St Anne's Road, Headingley, LS6 3NX, phone: 0113 278 1234

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