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…
You probably saw that coming.
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.
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.
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.
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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