Last Thursday, The Skinny Bib met Ann, the Gourmet Traveller and me at The Heron near Edgware Road to eat excellent Thai food. On first glance, this pub looked like any old man’s boozer but on closer inspection, there’s a menu of Thai food pasted next to the door. But this menu of traditional favourites was not what we were here for – we were heading downstairs, where the writing on the menu is Thai and so are the customers. Thank goodness for The Skinny Bib – he took charge of ordering and I think we did a pretty good job sampling what they had to offer!
I arrived late and so examined the room after I’d settled into my seat. The restaurant is tiny (I reckon it can seat 20 people) and is festooned with lights and a disco ball. And you can’t miss the two large flat screen TVs constantly playing Thai music videos. Karaoke is available while you eat but you’d be sharing your voice with the entire room; we weren’t regaled with any singing that night but do keep in mind that you might be serenaded during your meal.
First of our dishes to arrive was a suki ta lay haeng, a dry seafood suki yaki. This was our only noodle dish, a dry version of the Thai version of the original Japanese dish. Mung bean vermicelli was stir fried with seafood in a tangy sauce. It was very moreish.
A yum pla duk fuu, or crispy catfish salad, was incredible – if just presented with it, you’d be hard pressed to guess it was fish. The catfish had been transformed into a light crispy cloud and was topped with fried peanuts, shallots and fresh coriander. With the hot and sweet sauce on the side, this was just fantastic.
I thought I’d tried the full colour spectrum of Thai curries – green, red, yellow – but had no idea that an orange one existed! The kaeng som goong cha om tod kai, a sour orange curry with prawns and pieces of omelette with cha om, a new vegetable to me. This was highly addictive and I found myself drinking the thin but flavourful curry straight up after all the goodies had been fished out. If you’re familiar with a jungle curry, this was slightly thicker and didn’t have any coconut milk in it.
A plate of kai yiew mar kra pow krob was a mixture of fried century eggs and minced pork. We were told that there should be crispy holy basil on top but they had run out. It was still good without it though – I’d never come across fried century eggs before!
I was particularly excited to try the sai oua, a smoky Northern Thai pork sausage, as I was looking for a particular sausage I’d had in Chiang Mai. While this one wasn’t exactly the same, it was still delicious with all its chilli and spices and smokiness. Did I mention that chilli? This was probably the hottest dish on the table!
A larb moo, a minced pork salad, was quite mild in comparison to the other dishes.
Another salad – this time a som tam with large poached prawns scattered in between the shreds of green papaya. By default, everything seems to be spiced in the Thai way – hot! I munched on a chilli from the som tam and was in tears for a bit.
A plate of stir fried kai lan with oyster didn’t escape the chillies either – large sliced red ones had been stir fried with them.
For the four of us, we had these eight dishes, both sticky and steamed rice, and a large bottle of water and with service it came to £25 each. We certainly pushed the boat out with the number of dishes we had – I’d say we overdid it by 2 dishes! But how delicious it all was and I will certainly return, especially to explore the one dish meals on the menu. Thank you again, Skinny Bib! He is hoping to translate the menu soon – watch his blog post for this.
London W2 2DN