By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With six restaurants now spread out across the city, the original Rosa’s Thai Café can be found just between Spitalfields Market and East London’s bustling Brick Lane. Set up by husband and wife duo Alex and Saiphin Moore, following the success of a Brick Lane street food stall, it seems that the premises is often filled to capacity with tourists and locals alike. Upon arriving, our booking is nowhere to be seen, fortunately there is one table for two available in the corner of the dining room.
Provisionally, our first thoughts are aimed towards the ratio between the size of the dining area, in contrast to the amount of diners that frequent the restaurant. It’s the sort of place where you’re very likely to end up knocking elbows with your neighbouring table’s guests, yet the vibe is so casual that it’s unlikely that anybody will even notice. The food is good (we’ll come to that in due course), but if a quiet post-work catch-up or first date is the occasion in mind, you’re in the wrong place. As far as sound-absorbing soft furnishings are concerned, there’s not even a mere canvas wall hanging to absorb the racket.
It must be said, however, that the food is very reasonably priced, especially given ingredients, quality, and location. To start there’s the likes of Thai Calamari topped with Thai Herbs and Plum Sauce (£7), Goong Tempura (£7.50) – deep-fried Prawns that are dredged in light Panko Bread Crumbs and served with a Tangy Plum Sauce, and Soft Shell Crab (£9) that’s served whole, having been deep-fried and dressed in Thai Herbs and Shallots. The result of which is nice enough albeit a little cold (most probably due to the thin metal plates that haven’t been pre-warmed and fail to retain any heat).
As for the mains, the Prawn Pad Thai (£10) is delicious. Consisting of Stir-fried Noodles and Bean Shoots topped with crisp Prawns that explode on your tongue, while expertly combining some subtle flavours with a spice kick that lingers. The Green Chicken Curry (£11) is remarkably authentic, filled with Coconut flavours that do wonderful things to one’s taste buds. The Coconut Rice, however, is distinctly un-Coconutty – which comes as a surprise. To finish, the waitress suggests a dish of sweet Sticky Rice that’s topped with hunks of warm rich Mango (£4.95). Thankfully it’s delicious.
The service at Rosa’s is a little to be desired, and the sheer volume of background noise can be annoying, yet if you can look past these few quibbles; the authentic Thai food at Rosa’s is really very good.
Rosa’s Thai Café can be found at 12 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR.