The Scene: Suda’s proclamation that it’s a ‘Siamese rice bar’ might seem a bit tryhard – perhaps ‘Thai restaurant’ doesn’t sound edgy enough? – but inside it’s actually a relaxed affair. The black and pale-wood decor is chic, but not intimidating, and the service is unfailingly friendly. Take a seat upstairs for a view over Covent Garden’s posh St Martin’s Courtyard, and smile at the incongruous wooden animals – all of them grinning goofily – that decorate each table.
The grub There’s an insane amount of choice at Suda that could keep you ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ for days. My date and I finally plump for a few sharing plates to start, and are particularly impressed by the barbecue pork som tum. The meat is tender, the barbecue sauce all at once spicy and sweet, and the accompanying som tum – made with papaya, fish sauce and lime – has the jarring effect of refreshing the mouth, as well as setting the tongue a-tingling. To our elation, the mains measure up. Yellow lamb curry possesses an earthy sweetness without being sickly, and the cuts of lamb are a dark-pink inside – no chewy hunks or gristle here. Sizzling sea bass with kaffir lime leaves and red curry sauce is richer, but still packs a creeping heat. Most impressive is that these curries stay true to the light, fresh feel of authentic Thai food, rather than taking the glutinous/ oily route that tends to accompany Asian cuisine cooked in UK kitchens. We end on a bowl of sticky rice served with coconut ice cream, and it’s a fitting close to a delicious meal. The chewy rice alongside the creamy scoops makes for a dangerously moreish sensation.
Behind the bar Creative cocktails with a Thai spin. Go for the Butterfly Kiss; the delicate lychee flavour belies a potent mix of vodka and rum.
Bill please Sharing plates from £4.50, mains from £7.50-£9.50, desserts from
£3.50, and a wealth of vegetarian options from £4.50. Cocktails start at £7.45.
verdict An Asian feast that leaves you feeling light – amazing. LAURA CHUBB
23 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB
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