We were invited to try the new menu at the exotic gem Thaikhun, situated in Intu Victoria Centre’s Clocktower Dining. The area has been successfully revamped with tempting eateries such as Coast to Coast, Handmade Burger Kitchen, Ed’s Easy Diner, Tortilla and more – there is something for everyone.
Let’s be honest, as the two Thai street food newcomers in Nottingham, it’s hard not to talk about Thaikhun in the same breath as Zaap (Maid Marion Way). However, I’m really going to try not to as I think, despite sharing a passion for the same cuisine, they are really different and offering different experiences. Where Zaap feels more chaotic with cheap street eats where you shovel down a (tasty) hearty lunch before they quickly turn you around, we feel Thaikhun has a more relaxed atmosphere where more care and attention is taken to the dish composition, presentation, service and ambiance. Both are great in their own right, but Wednesday is our date night and Thaikhun felt like a great choice.
We were led through the eclectic Thai street decor to a lovely table by the balcony (yes! you can eat/drink in the sun here!) before ordering cocktails from the new menu. Inspired by Thai flavours and a ‘when-in-Rome’ mentality, we went for:
Beefeater gin and liquor 43 shaken with fresh cucumber, lime, apple and lychee
Thaikhun (would be rude not to try their speciality!)
Ginger, lemongrass, chilli and mint shaken with whiskey, Taylor’s Velvet Falernum and apple juice.
Both of these were delicious! I like something a little wild so the chilli kick in the Thaikhun was fresh (but not too hot!) Lychee in the gin cooler was inspired, this is a gorgeous, refreshing drink that goes down faaaar too easily. You have to check out their Street Sipper cocktail too, it comes served in a plastic bag!
We went for the grilled pork skewers (moo ping) and the pork and prawn dumplings (ka nom jeeb) to share.
Prawn and pork dumplings
We have to say, the starters here are AMAZING. They were our favourite part of the meal and I think when we go back (and we definitely will go back!) we will share a few starter dishes or a platter as they are that good – it would be perfect for a lighter lunch.
Grilled pork skewers
The pork skewers were tender with an intense meaty flavour enhanced by the salty, sticky marinade and sweet chilli dip. You may even think you were eating beef, the deep umami flavour was that rich and delicious. The coriander served with these really lifts the whole thing by adding a fresh, herby element that complimented perfectly. You could be on the streets of Bangkok with this one, authentic and an unmissable starter.
Another star of the show, the prawn and pork dumplings were among the best I’ve eaten. With a tendency to go mushy, the delicate, steamed wrappers were perfectly cooked and retained a lovely, noodle-like texture with a little bite. The filling was generous and, along with the sweet soy sauce dip and coriander, a pleasure to eat – we wanted more of these little flavour bombs!
Interestingly, we both picked items from the main menu that had Thaikhun’s “Must try” icon against them – always good to try something that the establishment recommends, particularly if it’s an unfamiliar cuisine.
I had the pla pao: A sea bass fillet marinated in oyster sauce, lemongrass, ginger, galangal and lime leaves, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled over charcoal. I chose rice noodles as my side.
Grilled sea bass fillet
If you like lemongrass, you will LOVE this! The fillet was wrapped around a filling of the classic Thai spice combination of ginger, lemongrass and galangal, which was very strong but lent the fish a nice aromatic flavour. The fish was beautifully cooked and flaky with not a single bone – so no worries there! Because of the charcoal mention i was expecting a barbeque-like smokiness, but there was none.
The chilli sauce was a good accompaniment but I felt the side salad wasn’t necessary as the fish went much better with my garlic and soy sauce noodles. I really enjoyed this, though not sure I would order it again, mainly because I had major food envy walking past a family on the way to the toilets who had the Thai curries, which looked incredible.
Stu went for the nua phad kra prao: A stir fry of beef strips with chilli sauce and Thai basil. One thing to note is that the stir fries do not come with any rice or noodles, just the meat, veg and sauce. The menu does not make this clear at all so it was a surprise when the waitress informed Stu that he had to order a separate side. Not what you’re used to from a stir fry – which is fine – but it should be mentioned on the menu.
Beef, chilli and Thai basil stirfry
The beef was tender and well cooked, though Stu wasn’t sold on the sauce which was less like a chilli sauce but reminded him more of black bean sauce from the takeaway. A well executed dish, but the balance of flavours could be better, maybe it was personal preference.
Rice noodles with bean sprouts, spring onion, soy sauce and garlic (with added sriracha) We both chose these rice noodles as our side and they are really good. You can add sriracha and fish sauce from the table condiments for an authentic chilli/savoury kick, which we did because garlic hot sauce makes everything better. My noodles were just on the edge of being a bit cold and congealed (I think they had been sat under the lamp) but they were salvageable – any colder and I would have sent them back. Stu’s were fine. I think we picked the best side dish as the simplicity lets the yummy garlic and soy shine through which is really all you need with the flavourful mains.
Sticky date pudding with Thai whiskey ice cream
We loved this! A great end to the meal. The pudding was more like a cake, with a gorgeous sticky toffee sauce on top. The real surprise was the whiskey ice cream – BOY did it have a kick! We couldn’t eat it on its own but it was magic with the sweetness of the date pudding. This was devoured sharpish – I really like it when restaurants surprise you with flavours you’ve never experienced before and this is a cracking twist on a sticky toffee pudding. The fruit nor the squirty cream was needed on this dish however, just give the girl some more boozy freezy please.
Overall, Thaikhun is tasty and fun great experience with a genuine feel of authenticity. You’re sure to find something on the menu for everyone, whether you’re a Thai food lover or new to the cuisine. The service was brilliant – we even bonded with our waitress over both being at Benicassim festival at the weekend! The atmosphere was lively and fun yet relaxed and casual.
Overall score: 8/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 9/10
Thaikhun were kind enough to allow us to review their food on the house, but the bill would have come to around £65 for three courses each and two cocktails.
Emily and Stuart