I don’t know about you, but when I visit The Triangle at the top of Park Street, it’s more often than not because I’m going to La Rocca after one too many. Hey – at least I’m honest about it. It’s always a bloody laugh mind, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
However, this area of the city centre often slips off my radar when making food choices. Sure, there are plenty of options here, but I haven’t ventured to this corner (well, triangles don’t have corners but you get me) or this part of town for a while. I guess it comes back to being spoilt for choice in Bristol, all the time.
Koh Thai Tapas sits unassumingly between a takeaway and a little way down from where I’ve boogied like I’m in Magaluf at La Rocca. From the outside it’s inviting enough, in the evening the dimmed lighting and candles call out like a welcoming beacon amidst the hustle and bustle, whereas during the day time (which is when I visited) it is set back against the payment, without giving too much away.
If you haven’t visited Koh Thai Tapas before, like I hadn’t, nothing could have prepared me for my surprise at entering the venue. Gorgeous smells of lemongrass filtered through the air and polished wooden furniture is carefully placed around the bar area, which is great for some pre or post dinner drinks. A little further into the restaurant and down some steps is where the space really comes into it’s own, as there is so much room. I couldn’t quite believe it. There are some booths lined up on the left hand side before a sea of tables fills the floor in front of you, with tons of natural light streaming through from the floor to ceiling doors which open out to a beautiful and yet again spacious, courtyard.
This was lunchtime service on a Wednesday, the restaurant was quiet but I could only imagine how buzzy it must be on a busy Friday or Saturday evening with the low lighting and tasteful decor.
I was here to sample the Koh Thai lunch menu, which consists of two courses for £12. Choose from a selection of Thai Tapas dishes and a main from the menu or the grill section. The menu has lots of choices with tapas starters ranging from dim sum, spring rolls and prawn toast. Mains come in the form of Penang curry, Chilli stir fry and grilled chicken to name a few, served in a choice of sauces, either tamarind, Penang or Koh’s own garlic and pepper.
I opted for the chicken satay to start and grilled tuna in a Penang sauce. My dinner date Ella chose the dim sum and Phad Thai. Our waitress was warm and friendly and knew lots about the menu and choices, explaining the heat of some dishes just in case one of us was a wimp and asking us if we had any queries.
Starters arrived (you can opt to have your tapas dish as a starter or alongside your main) and the portions were not shy. My three portions of chicken skewers were large and well seasoned, with the meat being nice and juicy. I am a big fan of satay sauce and Koh Thai’s was thick, with a lovely subtle kick to it. It was thoroughly enjoyable. I tried a little of Ella’s dim sum which was vibrant with flavour and a little more on the hotter, spicier side.
Our mains were brought swiftly along afterwards and again, I didn’t think I’d be needing any hefty dinner that evening (no problem with me!). My tuna arrived in a big bowl of Penang sauce and vegetables with sticky white rice on the side. Ella had a generous portion of fresh Phad Thai and we had side salads served with it too. The waitress had explained that unfortunately, she was not able to offer me the option of how I would like my tuna cooked, as in Thailand this is not the done tradition and the Thai chefs at Koh cook it how they would over there. This was no bother however, as the thick cut of Tuna was fleshy, and not too well done that I had to battle with it. The Penang sauce was rich and heavy, which was the perfect antidote to the current baltic temperatures we are currently being subjected too. The crunchy vegetables adding another layer of texture against the soft tuna. Nicely spiced, I pretty much scoffed the lot. Classic me.
Me and Ella noticed there were no chopsticks in Koh Thai, and on the table we only had a spoon and fork as cutlery. The waitress answered this at the end of our meal without us having to ask, explaining that they don’t use chopsticks in Vietnam, and there are normally no knives (obviously, if you wanted one then all you’d have to do is ask guys).
With very full bellies I came away from Koh Thai feeling that those two dishes for £12 is an absolute steal. Hearty and generous, as well as tasty, it is great for a working lunch, catching up with a friend or nipping in for a bite if you are in the area, and it’s just over a tenner. Wonderful value.
I’d definitely go back to Thai Tapas, and I am already wishing for the summer months so I can hide away in their courtyard scoffing all the crackers with sweet chilli sauce, oh, and wine.