I don’t have any younger siblings, so I have never had to deal with having children around the house. Honestly, it sounds like a nightmare to me – older siblings you all deserve medals for putting up with us! But my flatmate is lucky enough to have a younger sister with whom she gets on very well. Now that Amber is 18 and a student in London, she was keen to branch out and try some independent restaurants to start “exploring her culinary horizons.” And so it came to pass that we ended up in Soho on a Saturday evening expanding our palates at Rosa’s Thai Cafe. I suppose that for some, Thai food does not constitute a wild and wonderful foray into global cuisine, but remember we were all young once so there’s a first time for everything. Now as a student, cheap and cheerful was an absolute requirement and a quick look over the menu online meant that Rosa’s fit the bill – personally I don’t rate Thai Square or Busaba Eathai so was also on the look-out for a new cheap Thai restaurant of choice. My only reservation about going for Thai food was that I was lucky enough to spend part of January in Thailand and so had been a bit spoiled by the incredible breadth of cuisine they have there.
Rosa’s in Soho is marketed as relaxed and informal and as it was in Soho I expected it to be pretty small as well. Small it was (as a party of 5 we were squeezed onto a 3 person table), informal it was too (always good not to feel under-dressed or out of place). Relaxed, not so much – in my experience this is typical of Asian restaurants, with cheaper food they are keen to get in multiple covers & keep profits high. I don’t have a problem with this at all and I do admit we were 10 minutes late to a reservation, but I don’t enjoy snide comments by the waiting staff. The rest of the service however was pleasant, friendly & prompt which made up for the initial setback.
A good selection of Thai cuisine on the menu here – pad thai, tom yum soup & thai green curry (as expected) were all firm favourites. My flatmate Danni was especially pleased at seeing Tom Kha Gai as a special of theirs – a spicy hot and sour soup with coconut milk, chicken and galangal. Given the price (£6-7 starters and £12-14 mains) we thought it worth ordering both. Between the 5 of us, we also got a really nice selection of food – I’m a big fan of sharing so was more than happy at being able to try everyone else’s choices.
Among the starters we all agreed that the pork skewers were the outright winner here – sweet & sticky with a tamarind sauce. The rest of the starters were happily edible – I query the recommendation from the chef of the Pandan chicken wings, needed seasoning. Mains were equally varied and much more the star of the show.
My personal favourite here was the Beef Massaman Curry. Not as spicy as the Green or Red curries that were also on the menu, but thick & creamy and full of flavour. There was a really nice balance between the fish sauce, spices & nuttiness that comes from the added cashews, my out and out favourite nut by far. The beef was not too fatty and not too tough, a welcome addition. I’m often a bit wary of beef in curries but this was well judged.
So, overall (£25 per person with tip), I was very happy with the food. Was it as good as the Thai cuisine I’d sampled in Phuket earlier that month? Of course not, but I was pretty spoiled for Thai food in January! Would I buy their cookbook? Also no, there are better Thai restaurants in London. But given the price, it was well worth it.
48 Dean Street, London, W1D 5BF