Friday, October 17, 2008

Thai Khonkaen Restaurant

Thurs 16 Oct 2008

At work we have what is known as "The Anti-Bah-Humbug Initiative". In the 'good old days' (before I joined) apparently the office was the type where, on a regular basis, everyone would go out for lunch or beers after work. People have since married and had children, which scuppers the beers after work, and we've been through enough name changes and re-orgs to make even the most sociable people spend their lunches peering at their monitors. Apparently.

Anyway, any excuse for a wander, a feed and a beer ...

A week or so ago I visited Thai Khonkaen for an evening meal and was impressed enough to suggest it for lunch. This new Thai restaurant, situated at the back of House of Fraser (opposite Little Tokyo), offers a 2 course lunch deal for £5.95. Would it match up to my dinner experience?

Oh yes.

For a start, the choice of dishes is solid. You're not forced to choose one of three starters you're not really interested in. We started with the complimentary prawn crackers and ummed and aahed before coming up with our orders. Between the five of us, as starters, we had three servings of fish cakes, one chicken satay and a portion of 'Golden Bags'. A 'Golden Bag', as well as being a cause of lunch time hilarity for those who don't get out enough, is along the lines of a wonton: a deep fried little parcel of minced seafood and chicken. I was a fish cake person, although I had been tempted to try out the spring rolls. The fish cakes weren't brilliant (mainly because they weren't my mum's and her recipe came direct from the kitchens of a very well known hotel in Adelaide), but they were good enough and between them and the chilli sauce the dish had a pleasant spiciness. The Golden Bags and chicken satay both received the thumbs up.

However, it was the main courses which did really well. We had a three green curries (permutations of chicken and pork) and two of the stir fry dishes. I was a green pork curry and it was good. Again - the chilli level was bang on. It wasn't so hot you couldn't taste anything else, but still warm enough to let you know you were eating it. The curry had an interesting array of vegetables and others at my table complimented it on being not too sweet and not too coconutty. There were no complaints from the stir fry eaters, either. The main meals were all served with a very generous portion of jasmine rice. I felt full all afternoon. My hungry workmates, who are far more likely to complain about not being full, were all happy.

By the time we included drinks (including beers) AND a tip, the meal worked out at £9 a head. This is stupidly good value. The service is, as I think we've all come to expect from Thai restaurants, very friendly, quiet and attentive. When we arrived, we were asked if we were in a hurry and wanted everything at once. Rarely do you see that kind of consideration when out for lunch. I could start listing venues that really need to take note of this.

What makes me even more happy than finding a good venue for lunches out is that, having been for an evening meal, I can tell you that good service and food doesn't appear to be a one off at Thai Khonkaen. Former housemate (who has actually been to Thailand) and I arrived quite late for an evening meal and scoffed a main course each as well as a full plate of pad thai and, having paid about £25 for the privilege of an evening meal for two, left very full and happy. The evening dishes do appear to be considerably larger than the lunch dishes (probably a good thing unless you want to sleep all afternoon), and there's an early bird evening option which is £8.99.

At the moment, Thai Khonkaen is new and therefore quiet - but this shouldn't last long. It might not be in the most glamorous part of Leeds, but the restaurant's interior is smart: nowhere near as over the top as Chaophraya but a lot more impressive than somewhere like Thai Cottage. And the food - it's excellent.

1. Thai Khonkaen, 8a / 10a Market Street Arcade, Leeds, LS1 6DH, phone: 0113 242 1726, map.

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Other Thai restaurants we like: in the city centre, check out Maitai, and if you're out in Headingley, you can do worse than visit Sukhothai.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish my work had such a thing as the "The Anti-Bah-Humbug Initiative". People are all too serious in the work place. :-(

There should be a "The Anti-Bah-Humbug Initiative" night, where people attending wore an ABHI badge and would act accordingly.

8:56 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

I like the idea of an evening for anti bah-humbag activities!

We find that pub quizzes work well for that type of thing. As for our lunch dates - we tend to set them up as meetings so we block out the time in our diaries!

7:54 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you very Alex for really good comment about food at Thai Khonkaen Restaurant. We hope to see you again.
Thai Khonkaen Manager.

11:31 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Thank you very much! I haven't been since that visit for lunch but I know another of my friends has been for dinner only a couple of weeks ago! Must put it back on the lunch time schedule!

10:06 pm  

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