There’s many a Thai restaurant in the UK now, but how many of them come recommended by the Thai government? Well, it turns out that the answer is fifteen. Nipa Thai is one of those restaurants, so we swung by recently to find out what qualities a restaurant must have in order to receive this honour.
Located in the glamorous Lancaster London hotel next to Lancaster Gate, the restaurant boasts wonderful floor-to-ceiling windows along its back wall looking over Hyde Park. The interior itself is highly refined, with light-bulbs cleverly disguised as lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
We started out with ruam mitr; a chef’s selection of the finest starters. Decorated on the plate with a floral arrangement, the specialities varied from satay sticks to delicate dumplings. Designed for sharing between two, the dish is an excellent start to a meal, due to the sheer array of choice. The highlight was certainly the dumplings, which were intricately composed and full of flavour.
Toon Ngern Yuang
The toon ngern yuang, or crispy prawn dumplings are an arresting sight, packaged as small bundles of pastry tied together at the top and served with a homemade sauce. There’s a certain novelty to be had in biting into small packages, but there’s substance to the dish too. The prawns inside tasted fresh, and with the addition of the sauce, the taste was well balanced.
King Prawn Red Curry
After dabbling around the world of pastry, it was time to try out some curries! The king prawn red curry with green chillies was spicy and vibrant. Served with rice, and served again with a lovely floral arrangement on the side, the curry was packed with intense heat and flavour.
Lamb Massamam curry
The lamb massamam curry made with coconut milk, onions, peanuts and new potatoes was also well presented. The meat was tender inside the balanced curry, allowing it to soak up flavour. The rice, served as a side, also combined well with this dish.
Kuey Tiew Khua Kai
Alongside the curries, we also sampled the kuey tiew khua kai, or noodles served with chicken, eggs and preserved turnips. The noodles were flat but thick, and ran through the mix of ingredients piled onto the plate. The ingredients combined to create a warm feeling of comfort when tasting.
We were just about ready for something sweet to finish off our meal by this point. Our first option was the banana and caramel, a dish far more complex than its name would suggest. It was a thick, banana pudding dipped in syrup and served alongside a scoop of ice cream, with toffee sauce and also some fresh sliced banana. A rich array of ingredients mixed cold and warmth, with a lovely sweet finish.
Ice Kim Ka Ti
The ice kim ka ti is an incredibly pleasing sight to behold; coconut ice cream served straight from the shell, as nature should have intended. The presentation was fun, but the ice cream was worth ordering even without it. Thick, cool coconut helped reset the palate after the intense flavours of the meal.
With such stunning views and vibrant food, it’s not a surprise to me that Nipa Thai has earned it’s official recommendation from the government. The quality and presentation of food was certainly the best I’ve experienced in Thai cuisine (although I should note I’ve never been to Thailand!). The menu is varied, but also intelligent, and offers a wide selection of pleasing delights.
1st Floor, Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London, W2 2TY