Ask me if I know much about Thai. I’ll say I know the basics. Ask me what they are and I’m stumped. This is exactly what I was asked when I visited Janetira Thai last week.
How do you explain Thai food? I know I love it and it’s in with the pan-asian mix – Pad Thai, red curry and mussaman being regular dishes. But I haven’t actually been to Thailand so I mostly go by what the restaurants say, and critics/natives of course. But everyone has their go-to dishes right, so it’s so easy to get caught up in the popular numbers which have been european-ised.
Janetira Thai has been around for a while, with even a good review from Jay Rayner. Based in Soho, it aims to bring popular and authentic thai street dishes to London.
With a thai canteen style feel, its relatively small upstairs with only about 34 seats. Not the comfiest or cosiest, but minimalist and cute.
Only half full on a Monday night (well it was Monday!), Alex and I settled into our table instead of sweating it out at the gym. An easy decision to make.
The menu, although not overly extensive, still had us stumped by the options – so many delicious sounding dishes, and they even had a vegan menu.
The platter of starters took away the need to choose our appetizers. The chicken satay came with a rich, fragrant and creamy peanut sauce – so moreish. The spring rolls, which are all handmade made and rolled on site, were steaming inside, packed with flavour and a great texture.
The Thai fish cakes threw us – handmade too, they had an almost meaty texture. They were slightly spicy, aromatic and super tasty. These were definitely our fave..and didn’t even need the sweet chilli sauce which came as an accompaniment.
Wine in hand – the house is pretty good, not overly acidic – we managed to fit in a little chat with the managers who both came across as really passionate and enthusiastic. It’s always good when you see the love for a business radiate from someone’s very person.
Taking their recommendation, the Pad Thai was a must order.
The base is a bed of ‘noodles’ made from beans, which is pronounced “woon-sen”. Something they do in Thailand. They’re almost like super thin glass noodles. I’m pretty sure this actually adds to the flavour, and I didn’t miss the extra carbs. In fact, it made me feel better about missing the gym haha.
The prawns were huge and juicy, the chicken tender, and with plenty of crunchy nuts, and a squeeze of lime it was one beautiful mix of textures and flavours. One to rival all pad thai dishes in London. In fact, I think it’s the best I’ve had. Not sure I can go back to the normal now.
The Beef Rendang, the head chef’s twist on the traditional Indonesian dish, was rich in aromatic flavour. A thick sauce, large chunks of beef which were easily pulled with the times of the fork, and perfectly cooked rice, it was a great choice. It didn’t taste too different from other Rendang dishes we’d tried, and it was just as delicious.
Full. There wasn’t an ounce of space for dessert, and to be honest, we didn’t even think about looking at the menu (although I don’t think there is much in this space) – this is definitely a place for starter and main over holding out for anything sweet.
- Price: Starters from about £5, mains from roughly £8, it’s pretty standard for London
- Food: Vegan options available. Everything looks delicious. The Thai fishcakes and Pad Thai are must orders!
- Drinks: House wine isn’t bad..have a red with the Rendang
- Atmosphere: Thai canteen. Small and minimalist.
- Wait: Not on a Monday. Seated straight away. In and out in an hour and a half.
Great little spot if you’re in central London! Would make a cute date spot, and it’s quiet enough for a good chat and catchup.
What s your fave Thai dish? Could you explain Thai food if someone asked you without warning?
*we were invited along to review Jane Tira. All views my own.