Tapas style is one of my favourite ways to enjoy food with friends – everyone ordering their dishes and sharing them around, discovering new delicacies and dipping in and out of plates here and there… Cutting the final piece into two or three pieces so everyone can try, ordering ‘just one more of these please’, after a particularly delicious dish disappears in an instant.
I’ve tried Greek, Turkish, Carribbean and even Mexican-style tapas, but until this month I’d never tried Thai. But really, when you think about it, Thai tapas is a genius idea. Like the Japanese izakaya snacks or kaiten-sushi, or even Chinese dim-sum, small dishes shared in a group is definitely a concept at home in Asian cuisine. So when Koh Thai asked me to come and review their tapas menu, I was more than happy to jump in the car and head on up to Salisbury.
Koh Salisbury is located right in the city centre, meaning that you can hit the shops and the sights and then head in for a fantastic meal, and make a day of it. It’s also a really short walk from the main city car park, making it really easy to get to.
The interior is dark, modern and themed with wooden screens, gorgeous golden lanterns, and hand painted artwork on the walls. When I went for a midweek dinner, the place was buzzing with couples, work parties, and a hen do, so I’d imagine booking in advance is pretty sensible if you want to make sure you get a table!
The ethos of Koh Thai is a completely tailored dining experience, which starts the moment you order drinks. My designated driver, also my teetotal husband, always goes for soft drinks, but there’s no menu for virgin cocktails at Koh Thai. Instead, you tell the waiter what you like and they’ll come back with a delicious cocktail themed just for you. While I had a delicious Summer Daze, with gin, lime passionfruit and Midori, he had a riff on a strawberry daiquiri, which was completely gorgeous!
Onto the food! We’d been invited to try the Thai Tasting Menu at £26 a head, which includes starters and main, and all the trimmings. Koh calls this a bespoke ordering style, because that’s exactly what it is – you tell them what you like, which meats you prefer, any allergies or dislikes, and how spicy you like it, and they produce dish after dish of delicious food, exactly as you like it. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that this was one of the best Thai meals I’ve ever eaten – everything was cooked to perfection and there was a fantastic balance of old favourites and new dishes that I’d not tried before. First up was the Thai sliced crispy beef: tender strips of beef with a crispy crunchy coating, served with a sweet, thick soy sauce spiked with chilli and dressed with spring onions.
Then came one of their signature dishes, 24 Hour Ribs. These were melt in the mouth beef ribs; so tender the meat fell off the bone. They were served with their cooking jus which tasted like a blend of soy sauce with cinnamon and star anise – although the exact recipe is a secret! I can’t decide if these or the crispy beef strips were my favourite – they were both cooked to perfection and so, so tasty!
We also had Koh’s Own Chicken Satay. Traditional chicken skewers served with crunchy, spicy peanut sauce, this is always a firm favourite of my husband, and went down a treat.
To be honest, at this point we thought the meal was over, but it had only just begun. You’ll definitely not go home hungry… We were served cashew stir fry – which I’d never had before, but will definitely be hankering after, and ordering, again for sure.
It consisted of a sweet and savoury sauce coating a mixture of sliced beef, onions, peppers, spring onions, water chestnuts, pineapple pieces and dried chilli, studded with satisfying crunchy, creamy cashews. I could have eaten this all day.
But what would a Thai meal be without at least one Thai curry? We had green chicken curry – fiercely hot, spicy, creamy curry sauce packed with bamboo shoots, green beans, peppers, and chicken.
The dishes also came with Jasmine rice and Pad Thai: soft noodle ribbons fried with egg, carrots, spring onions and bean sprouts, served with sliced pork and peanuts on the side to add your own crunch! Sweet, rich and tangy, Pad Thai is always irresistible, and this was no different.
Then it was onto our second round of drinks – I had a Kohtini, which is their alternative to a Cosmopolitan (lemongrass syrup, lychee liqueur, vodka, lime and cranberry) and my husband had a virgin mojito (oh my goodness, even without the rum, one of the best mojitos I’ve tried!)
As you can see, I had a brilliant time at Koh Thai, and I’d definitely come back. This is the perfect place for a celebration meal with mates, or a quiet romantic date with your other half. The attention to detail was excellent, presentation was perfect and our waiters were very friendly and attentive. All of this would have been for nothing if the food wasn’t good, but I was bowled over by how delicious each dish was – I’d order it all again in a heartbeat.
The good news is there are locations all over the south, with more popping up all the time. There are branches in Bath, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Bristol, Christchurch, Lilliput, Ringwood, Salisbury, Southsea and Winchester, and the new Romsey branch opens this month (July 2016)! They even have a special express light lunch menu for under £10, including a fantastic selection of grilled meats with a choice of sauces, if you’re watching your figure.
Find Koh Thai online at www.koh-thai.co.uk. The Salisbury branch I visited is located at 4A Endless Street, Salisbury, SP1 1DL.
The meal I enjoyed at Koh Thai was complimentary – the views in this review are my own. (Seriously, book yourselves in!)