Thai food in South London? Apparently beggars can be choosers


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Until I find a better Thai restaurant in London than The Begging Bowl, which offers more authentic, cheaper food than The Begging Bowl, with a warmer and more welcoming atmosphere than The Begging Bowl …I’m just gonna keep banging on about The Begging Bowl to anyone who’ll listen and/or who cares.

I went to Thailand at the ripe old age of fifteen where I developed an adoration for real, authentic Thai food, warm Chaing beer and Dioralyte rehydration sachets – sometimes all at the same time. Having spent a month getting to grips with the country via prickly, leathery backs of elephants and hot, sweaty plastic seats of tuk-tuks, I’d like to think I’m one diced lemongrass stalk away from being practically Thai – or at least from knowing a decent Thai dish when I taste one. Since that life-changing month so many years ago, I’ve had endless run-ins with semi-decent Thai food. Until I went to…

The Begging Bowl.

You probably saw that coming.

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If you’re looking for incredible Thai food on the kind of budget which doesn’t allow for spontaneous Thursday night bookings of one-way plane tickets to Bangkok, this place is your solution. It’s become my go-to eatery whenever my inner ladyboy needs an authentic coriander-infused curry fix and I cannot recommend it enough.

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It’s a cosy little place with a chilled vibe, making it the perfect place to take friends, parents, dates or potential future employees – for anyone looking for really alternative interview location ideas. The décor involves brightly-painted bits of rustic wood nailed to the walls which, personally, I’m always a massive fan of. If there’s a lack of jazzy-wood wall art, don’t bother. You can choose from a mix of private or communal tables, allowing you to either share your jasmine rice with the randomer on your right or keep your Pad Thai to yourself on a teeny table for two.

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Small dishes are ordered, tapas-style, to allow you to try more of the menu. Why have a mountain of one meal when you can have smaller helpings of, I dunno, the entire menu? It’s genius. What’s more, the food is freaking mind-blowing – and in terms of Thai food, I really don’t say that lightly. The menu choices are constantly changing and they go beyond the option of Lloyd Grossman’s stir-in red curry sauce with rice. Every choice is eclectic, original and delicious. We worked our way through a pork belly creation, a fresh fish dish, a pigs cheek number and a pheasant option. Every dish was awesome. However, the Mussaman curry with duck legs, peanut and quince was what seriously set the standard. This dish was so tasty, I spent my time uttering expletives in some weird state of shock and disbelief, as though I was a sufferer of Thai-food-related tourettes. I’d happily backpack to Peckham right now for as long as it takes, for another helping.

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The staff are really friendly, the atmosphere is lively and some dishes even arrived presented on bamboo leaves – or ‘toilet paper’, as it became known during my Thai month. It’s these small touches which add to the whole experience.

So I don’t really know if The Begging Bowl can be beaten. I’m prepared to consider other contenders, but until that moment comes, TBB is still my number one. ILLT+TBB 4EVA.

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