Nipa Thai

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I’m going to be honest. We recently received an invitation to the restaurant I’m about to tell you about which went against everything this site is about. It went something like… “Would you like to come to a posh central London hotel (no, not really) located …in central London (again, no thanks) where we have a Thai restaurant (alright, you’ve got my attention) which has been sited as being one of the best Thai restaurants in London (right, well, I’m an idiot if I say no to this…). I toyed with this invitation and wasn’t sure at first. But I’m a whore for Thai food. Every time. So I begrudgingly said yes to the fancy central London hotel.

A week later, we were wheeling our dirty bikes into the polished-floored reception of The Lancaster Hotel, opposite Park Lane. A lady brushed past me wearing a bear and smelling like a mix between Chanel No.5 and an inherited fortune. Attentive white gloves answered phones and carried branded luggage which probably cost more than my rent did for every month of last year combined. Classical music played sweetly in the background like it does during that baller hotel party scene at the beginning of Die Hard. This place was legit.

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We were directed to the restaurant – the decor of which resembled, well, a posh hotel restaurant with a Thai twist. The wait staff were super-friendly and wore traditional Thai dress and the odd interior references to Thailand were more ‘subtle and tasteful touches’ instead of ‘bamboo and lotus leaf wallpaper’.

Soon enough we were knocking back a bottle of amazing wine and tucking in to a spread of ridiculous Thai food. We started with the selection of chef’s special Thai starters – a platter of handmade Thai delicacies including crisp spring rolls, Thai fishcakes and marinated chicken with peanut sauce. It was an ideal way of trying as much from the starter menu as possible, without ordering everything and spending a fortune and filling up on starters. Dream. These delicacies were sublimely flavoursome – I could have drunk a full mug of that peanut sauce, had Tom not stopped me for fear of being politely escorted off the premises. We followed that with a vibrant chicken and Thai aubergine curry and you know what? It was vibrant. Brilliantly so – especially when paired with our other main course of chicken with cashew nuts and mushrooms in a light oyster sauce – so beautiful and moreish with rich, traditional Thai flavours. We added in a serving of Pad Thai just to be sure every dish was up to scratch and that surpassed our expectations too. Prawns, eggs and noodles – I mean, how good can a Pad Thai be, right? Turns out, really very excessively. They also do ice cream in coconut shells. Need I say more?

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It’s not surprising that Nipa Thai has a plethora of accolades under its belt. This place holds 2-AA-Rosettes and as we found ourselves diving into incredible dish after incredible dish, it made it easy to understand why. It’s also one of the few Thai restaurants in the UK which holds the ‘Thai Select’ award, as appointed by the Thai government for its amazing flavours and authenticity.

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So basically, what all this points to is, if you like Thai food, this place is bad ass. I mean, like I said at first, I wasn’t sure about going to Nipa Thai, mainly based on the ‘hotel restaurant’ aspect which I found off-putting. On reflection, this place isn’t ‘cool’ and probably doesn’t really fit our usual criteria. But we couldn’t deny the fact that the food was ridiculous. So if ever you find yourself in that part of town or you want a more upmarket Thai restaurant, this is the place to head to.

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