Happy new year and apologies for the long absence dear foodies- I have been in Leicester for the past 7 weeks doing The King & I (click here if you're interested :) ) and so have not had the time to cook/blog/do much else other than turn up for work 8 shows a week and try to get enough sleep in between!
I have however, been unable to resist the urge to check out several local restaurants, and I am thrilled to say I have discovered a little Thai gem smack bang in the city centre which serves a mean tongue-tingling Pad Kee Mao amongst many other authentic tasty dishes. Having just been opened for 5 months or so it seems this unassuming place is struggling to get a crowd in as it's almost always empty- a real shame as it's a cosy little joint offering some excellent grub at great prices, with everything from the chefs and waiting staff to the King Bhumibol poster and piped in music all authentically Thai.
Emerald Thai restaurant
56 Charles St, Leicester LE1 1FB
Tel: 0116 251 4749
Most of the items listed below are from the set lunch menu, which offers excellent value for money at £4.95 per main course or £6.95 for starter + main. This is not their only deal though- they also give a 10% discount on takeaways (which includes complimentary prawn crackers in the evening) and for loyalty card holders (just ask for one) a free soft drink at lunch and a 20% discount to dine in for dinner. On top of that they don't charge service and try quite hard to please, so I would say it's worth popping it to show them some support and help them stick around!
Tom Yum- a generous bowl of the famous Thai spicy sour clear broth made with chillies, lime leaves and lemongrass, complete with a heap of mushrooms and four large king prawns
Tom Ka- like the Tom Yum above, but with the added richness of coconut milk.
Tord Man Plar- traditional Thai fishcakes, with a sweet chilli and plum sauce dip. Not the best I've ever tasted, but a nicely seasoned and spiced beginning to the meal none theless.
Po Pia Goong ("Prawns in Blanket")- a simple starter of prawns encased
in spring roll pastry, freshly fried and crunchy.
Toong Tong (Golden Parcels)- Seasoned chicken twisted up in little crisp pastry bundles.
(For the set lunch noodles come with a choice of either chicken, pork, beef or tofu. In the evenings the more expensive Tiger prawn option is also available.)
Pad Thai- Thailand's most famous fried noodle dish, with spring onions, carrots, beansprouts, Chinese leaves, eggs and chopped peanuts. Deliciously sweet and tangy, complete with the authentically Thai touch of having elaborately carved vegetables garnish the plate.
Pad Kee Mao ("Drunken Noodle")- the shining star of this restaurant in my opinion, spicy, fiery and flavourful flat noodles cooked with hot basil leaves, bamboo shoots and peppers. Be sure to specify how hot you want it as they can tailor it to your taste- foreigners do be warned that the Thai definition of "spicy" is usually too hot for people who aren't used to it!:)
Pad See Iew- a milder dish stir-fried with soy sauce, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. An option for those who want flat rice noodles without the chilli kick of Pad Kee Mao.
Koe Tiew Tom Yum- a thicker broth than I expected (assumed it would be clear like traditional Tom Yum), but tasty with generous amount of toppings albeit of a more
unusual Chinese variety (i.e. BBQ pork and wonton)
Gang Dang (red curry with tomatoes, pineapple and lychee)- the one dish I would not order again. Large portion with steamed rice, but waaaay too sweet for my liking.
Yam Woon Sen- usually not available at lunch, the chef obliged when I ordered this hot and sour vermicelli salad in the afternoon. Asked for a "small" and got this massive plate
full of seafood priced at only £4! Overall quite tasty with coriander, spring onions
and lemon dressing, but it would have done better with more heat.