A couple weeks ago, I had absolutely no inclination to cook whatsoever. I had no idea what to eat for dinner either and so called up Blai and arranged to meet him in Hammersmith after my evening yoga class. We agreed on Thai food that night and as I’d heard good things about 101 Thai Kitchen, located halfway between Hammersmith and Chiswick, that’s where we’d go. Initial impressions of the bright pink restaurant were good: the place was pretty full and there was a TV in the back showing some Thai drama (that’s a good thing, right?!) and the Thai family sitting next to us was just finishing up their tasty-looking family style meal.
The first dish to arrive at our table was a pad see ew with chicken. I love all manner of stir fried flat rice noodles but this soy sauced dish was just average – it would’ve been much better had the noodles been fresh rather than reconstituted from dried. The chicken was tender though and I loved the addition of all the greenery.
Our next two dishes though would confirm the fact that it’s best to order from the blackboard in the back or the special section in the menu, where I recognised many dishes from Isaan, a north eastern part of Thailand.
The waitress had pushily listed a few special items on the blackboard in the back (all listed in Thai so unless you can read it, you’ll have to listen carefully). I had been drawn to the Special salad and was told it was like a papaya salad but it was large and had…everything. Well, she wasn’t wrong! In this amazing salad, we found: green papaya, thin egg noodles, prawns, squid, a coarse and dark pork sausage, another smooth pork sausage with a texture like fish cake, fluffy fried pork rinds, crunchy glazed fried anchovies, little salted crabs, pea aubergines, carrot, long beans, beansprouts, slices of an orange skinned vegetable that tasted like an aubergine, cherry tomatoes, slices of lime, a mysterious pit from a mystery fruit. I know I’m forgetting something! The dressing was more punchy, tangy, fishy, spicy than the usual stuff that anoints the usual Thai green papaya salads and made this salad all the more mouthwatering; we were shovelling this into our mouths! Alongside this, we also received a plateful of raw vegetables and crispy pork rinds – I loved dipping the vegetables into the dressing left at the bottom of the plate. We really should have ordered some sticky rice to have with this.
Rounding off our savouries was an order of their Thai sausages. It’s not often mentionned that sausage is a popular Thai street food and I was in search of the kinds that I had tasted in Chiang Mai. This one was an Isaan style sour sausage, with the sour caused by a slight fermentation before the sausage is cooked. We got four sausages to the order, each skewered for easy eating, which were accompanied by roasted peanuts, raw chilies, coriander and slices of raw ginger and cucumber. The flavour was spot on, exactly what I remembered from my trip.
For dessert, we split the intriguing sounding Jewels of Siam, supposedly unavailable anywhere else in the UK (so said the menu). This turned out to be a very typical Thai dessert – shaved ice topped with syrup and condensed milk and topped with various fruits (young coconut meat, palm seeds, jackfruit bits), jellies (including nata de coco), and homemade chewy things (mock pomegranate seeds was one of them). It was quite refreshing after the spicy meal and it was definitely a surprise to see it here. However, is it really not available at any other Thai restaurant in the UK?
Unfortunately, though the food was great, service was abysmal; it was near impossible to get the attention of our waitress throughout the entire meal. We sat with our empty dishes for a good 15 minutes while trying to catch someone’s eye before I finally waved around rather madly to get someone’s attention. At the end of our meal, the waitresses were ignoring us all and it took a lot of work to get the bill. We got ours eventually but we’ve taken note from what look like regulars – go straight up to the counter at the front to pay (our total was about £25). Shame, it would’ve made our experience there much better; I guess I’ll just have to put up with it if I want to get my fix of excellent Thai food.
101 Thai Kitchen
352 King St
London W6 0RX