Matthew Pearson

Best Thai Restaurants in London

Thai food has traditionally been a bit overlooked. Perhaps because so many of restaurants purporting to be the best in town tasted, well, exactly the same as one another. But London's Thai food scene is changing. It's more uncompromising, with bolder flavours and more regional variation. So here's our guide to the very best Thai restaurants in London, including...

  • A scene-starting authentic Thai place, now an established chain.
  • The best Thai pub in the country.
  • And a local favourite over in Leytonstone.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

The founder of Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Chef Saiphin, grew up on a mountain farm in northern Thailand. It was here that she learned to cook with fresh ingredients that came straight from the fields surrounding the family home. That is the cookery style and ethos on which Rosa’s Thai Cafe was founded. It's a style and ethos that persists to this day, despite the fast and formidable growth the business has enjoyed. Yep, Rosa’s Thai Cafe is all across London these days, each branch with its own character—there’s an express style one in the food court of the Westfield in Stratford, the Hanbury Street original is as cutesy and charmingly diminutive as ever—but all with the same commitment to superb and satisfying Thai food and sustainability. The menus can differ from caff to caff, with menus exclusive to a particular branch popping up from time to time, like the Isaan regional menu available at Rosa’s Victoria. The Soho branch’s three month flirtation with vegetarianism in early 2018 led to many veggie dishes becoming perma-fixtures across the Rosa’s mini-empire. Across London [caption id="attachment_5585" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]


Kiln is a Soho favourite. In fact, it’s a national favourite too, having been named National Restaurant of the Year at the 2018 National Restaurant Awards. The chef’s line work along a charcoal barbecue, manipulating the heat from the hot coals to perfectly char the aged lamb and cumin skewers; heat the bold, original ox heart laap in a seasoned iron wok; and cook the clay pot baked glass noodles and other favourites from the short, affordable menu. Focusing on dishes from the north of the country, particularly the border regions and the exciting culinary cross-pollination such areas are known for, eating at Kiln is an idiosyncratic Thai food experience. If you’re not too confident with heat, make sure you ask them to tone down the spice. Try and get a seat at the bench overlooking the open kitchen for some free food theatre. Kiln, 58 Brewer Street, London W1F 9TL

Som Saa

Fun and informal, the only thing Som Saa takes seriously is the regional Thai food they serve up. It’s a loud and vibrant atmosphere that welcomes you in, and the noise levels and vibrancy follow you throughout your time at Som Saa, first in the daringly brilliant bar snacks and cocktails, then onto the short but bold menu of show-stopping dishes. This isn’t food for the faint-hearted, with heat levels kept authentically high and no anglicising when it comes to the cuts used or the combinations of powerful flavours. Standout dishes include the nahm dtok pla thort, a whole deep fried seabass, herbed up in the Isaan style, served with roasted rice and pungent fish sauce, buried under smokey chillies; and the Cornish duck leg and quince mussaman. Their Tem Toh (‘full table’) tasting menu is a great way to get a balanced rundown of what Som Saa are all about. It’s very, very good value too. Som Saa, 43a Commercial Street, London E1 6BD [caption id="attachment_5586" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]


This family-run cafe-style Thai place in Leytonstone is one of the best Thai restaurants in London. The dependable and very homestyle set of recognisable dishes on the main menu, the reasonable prices and the fact it’s BYOB all make this East London outpost a superb place to spend an evening. But Singburi’s blackboard specials are what elevate an evening here to an essential London culinary experience. These dishes haven’t been toned down at all to meet the less adventurous parts of the British palate. This regularly changing specials board has some very, very popular stalwarts, including deep-fried sticky pork belly with chilli and Thai basil (otherwise known as moo krob) that those in the know are unendingly effusive about, and a dish of a whole steamed fish, made pungent with ginger, and moreish with soy sauce. Singburi, 593 High Road Leytonstone, London E11 4PA [caption id="attachment_5588" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

The Heron Thai at The Heron

Let's carry on the theme of exceptional Thai restaurants in unexpected places. Heron Thai sits in the basement of a pub in Paddington. There is a great tradition of Thai food served in pubs in the UK, particularly in London. But rarely does Thai pub food scale the heights scaled downstairs at The Heron. But not only is The Heron Thai one of the best Thai pubs in the country, it’s also one of the best Thai restaurants in London. Co-owner and Head Chef Joe has no interest in settling for the middling choice and neutral flavours you get in many high street Thai restaurants. For timid palates, the food may be a little ostracising in its extremes of flavour and texture. Case in point: the ceviche prawns with hot chillies, raw garlic, lime and fish sauce. Nothing is hiding in that kind of dish, in its full-on flavour, striking looks or textures. It’s all raw, big chunks of chilli, garlic cloves and prawns only treated by the zip of the lime juice. Other highlights of the menu congregate on the Chef Specials section. The deep fried whole seabass is a visceral, unadulterated dish. As is the Kai Yiew Ma Kha Pao Kob, century eggs buried in spicy pork and shreds of holy basil. The Heron Bar and Restaurant, Norfolk Crescent, Paddington, London W2 2DN [caption id="attachment_5589" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] So, those are our recommendations for the best Thai restaurants in London. But we're sure we'll be back updating our list soon, because Thai is on the up, up, up. Do you have any to add? If so, let us know in the comments below. What else do you like to eat? Sushi? Yeah, you're pretty into sushi. But that's no problem. Because we know all about that too. Take a look here for our top sushi places in London.

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