We all recall when Thai food was the ‘thing of the moment’ a few years ago. I even remember my local pub at the time serving Thai food rather than classic pub grub, so it’s hard to imagine that any of us are strangers to Pad Thai.
Thai Square has been bringing Thai food to the UK for the last 21 years. After opening its first restaurant in 1996, the group now boasts 13 restaurants, each still promising authentic, balanced and fresh Thai food, with a Fulham branch having opened most recently. Inside, the décor is modern, with a light-up mirror behind the bar, but with traditional-looking ornamental dark wood walls. The entire room is cool, airy and bright when we arrive during London’s recent heatwave, thanks to the wide-open bay windows.
Following a round of cocktails (a raspberry Mojito, with fruit that’s overly sweet and tastes synthetic, and classic Old Fashioned), the waiter recommends the set menu for two (£36.50 pp), with a free choice of main courses. It seems like a simple way to sample a selection of the restaurant’s dishes, beginning with a snack of prawn crackers. To start, the aromatic duck with pancakes is perfectly sized for two people. The garnish is fresh, while the duck is perfectly cooked and shredded. The dish isn’t particularly ground-breaking, yet the meat is of good quality and it’s a fair start to the meal.
Hoi Shell Rad Gang Kiew (steamed king scallops with Thai green curry) is well-balanced and fragrant with a little chilli kick – the kind of heat felt on the back of the throat, but with prominent flavour that prevails over the heat. The scallops, I’m afraid, are hit and miss. Intended to be a small course, with only one scallop each – mine is regrettably chewy, but the other falls apart at the slightest touch.
For our mains, we choose Tamarind Goong (Grilled prawns with tamarind sauce) and Gae Yang Ka Pow Krob (Grilled marinated lamb racks with Thai herbs, garlic and chilli sauce). The grilled prawns are served butterflied still in their shells and they are cooked properly. The dish is fresh and balanced – an ideal plate for a hot summer’s evening. The lamb, on the other hand, is tough. The marinade is full of herbs and spices, with a little heat, but does little to save the dish. Both mains are unnecessarily served in bowls, thus making them difficult to eat. I find myself having to constantly switch between a spoon, knife and fork as the mélange of dishes don’t seem designed to work with a choice of either type of cutlery provided.
The set menu also comes with sides to share: pak choi with Chef’s special sauce, Pao Tang Tuk (stir-fried noodles with mixed vegetables and Chef’s special sauce) and steamed jasmine rice. The pak choi is still slightly al dente, which makes for a pleasant crunch. Unfortunately, there is also a little crunch to the steamed rice, which is slightly undercooked for my liking. The stir-fried noodles are fine, if unremarkable. Finally, the set menu ends with ‘Sweet of the Day’. In our case, it’s fruit salad with vanilla ice cream. I’d hoped for something a little more refreshing, a sorbet perhaps – but no such luck. The fruit is all fresh, at least.
The service at Thai Square is quick and friendly, while some dishes stand out (the prawn main particularly). Yet I can’t shake the feeling that most could have been executed better. If only I’d ordered the Pad Thai.
Thai Square Fulham can be found at 563 Fulham Road, London, SW6 1ES.