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Thai Pride

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It’s very faddy food isn’t it? By its very nature there are certain tastes and textures we like whilst there are others that we recoil from – and each is purely subjective.

What’s more, our palates are constantly changing as we progress from infantile concoctions, such as jam and peanut butter sandwiches, through to that most mature of delights – tripe and onions. The more we dine out the more we seek out novelty, hence, the everchanging fortunes of a range of global cuisine’s that have ebbed and flowed in popularity in recent times.

Few, however, have succeeded in entrenching themselves so deeply in the British psyche over the last ten or so years, quite like the now ubiquitous Thai. When Hi-Life launched in the mideighties we featured but one or two such rare outposts but now barely a town can be found that doesn’t feature at least one such torch carrier.

We are now so cosmopolitan and experienced that names like tom kha gai and pad thai are as familiar as egg and chips and the beneficial applications of lemongrass are a frequently heard discussion topic at the most esoteric of dinner parties.

So complete has this “Thaiisation” of Britain become that their countries onetime ruler Thaksin Shinawatra now owns one of our “leading” Premiership football clubs. So, we wondered, does Bangkok still have any good chefs left or are they all to be found in Ramsbottom? Where better to satisfy our curiosity than a visit to the Peninsula Hotel , a long held shrine to all that is luxury in that teeming city.

The hotel couldn’t be better located, situated as it is on the Capitals Chao Phraya River. From its riverside pool you can behold the amazing vista that is Bangkok by night. But we weren’t there for the view – well not entirely – but because we wanted to sample the best in indigenous Thai cuisine and compare it to our more prosaic home grown encounters.

To put this to the test we beat a hasty path to the hotel’s Thiptara restaurant, which prides itself on offering the very best in Thai cuisine. Now, there is nothing more frustrating for the reader to hear dining columnists struggle with their limited pallet of adjectives to sum up their dining experiences (one of particular note, of course, merely makes do with “historic”).

Indeed, I’ve known food writers to be so limited, as to wonder if that thing on the table with five appendages is a fennel bulb or their own hand, but I digress. Suffice to say our authentic repast included such well known delights as kra-tong thong, massaman gai and nua yang, and their plahi- ma sam ros certainly took some beating.

All in all our experience demonstrated just how wonderful and complex haute Thai cuisine really is and when married to the Peninsula’s impeccable service, it amply demonstrated why this internationally renowned location is so esteemed. For our part, it may have been a long way to fly for a tub tim grob but without that experience we wouldn’t be able to recommend the best Thai restaurants in Britain for you. And you thought we simply sat on our aspirations.

THE PENINSULA HOTEL
The Peninsula Bangkok,
333 Charoennakorn Road,
Klongsan, Bangkok 10600,
Thailand Tel: (+66-2) 861 2888
www.bangkok.peninsula.com

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