Busaba Eathai, Soho, London
Feel like eating Thai? Maybe you’ll feel like Busaba Eathai. South-east Asian food, let alone Thai, is a rather different experience in central London. Your choices are generally down to chains like Rosa’s Thai, Busaba Eathai and a few others. You lose a bit of that authenticity with the kind of cuisine they dish up. But out of the chains, my favourite is Busaba Eathai by a noodle mile.
I think in total I’ve had four experiences with Busaba Eathai to date. And all of have been suitably lovely. Although one was my attempt at starting a dining club at my first work. Such promise and ambition that ended up being me and one other guy only. We still had a good meal, mind you and the next ones we had new company.
Busaba Eathai in Soho isn’t a venue I’ve ever felt the need to book, but it has always been packed every time I’ve been. A bit too packed – most of the tables are communal which makes for a noisy environment and just a bit of elbow touching. Busaba Eathai is quite a big deal in London, with fourteen restaurants dotted across the culinary landscape. This store in Soho is the original one and was founded in 1999 by Alan Yau. If you’re wondering – Busaba is a flower and Eathai, literally means, eat Thai. Nothing more fancy than that.
Lunch is a more cut price affair with a dedicated price-competitive menu, dinner ends up being much more sharing focused affair. I can’t fault the dishes, every item I’ve had at Busaba has been delicious. It doesn’t have the authenticity of a more family-orientated venue like Korat, but if I’m after a crowd-pleasing Thai-inspired venue in the city centre this would be it.
Just a few of the dishes that I’ve had off the top of my head…
- Pandan chicken (£6.95- fried chicken in pandan leaves with soy and sesame dipping sauce. My favourite dish from Busaba Eathai!
- Tamarind duck breast (£15.95) – a close second on my favourite dishes. No, actually this might be better. But… I just find it so expensive for what you get, especially when you need something else to feel full. I love the mix of tamarind sweetness with the duck, that’s always a winning combo in my books. Or should that be blog?
- Sticky chilli hot wings (£6.75) – a great starter, might be one of their signature dishes too. Your fingers will get so messy so get ready to clean up afterwards.
- Massaman duck curry (£13.50) – nice, modern twist with great flavours. Could have had a bit more meat you don’t get that much.
- Ginger beef (£10.25) – good. Can’t remember anything more specific about it.
- Pad Thai (£9.95) – standard issue. Good but nothing spectacular.
The final word
I have a soft spot for Busaba Eathai. I’ve only been to the Soho one but it’s never let me down – the dishes are all at least above average, though the price is attuned to the location. Give it a go with a group sometime.