From slurping up pad thai noodles amid the petrol fumes of passing motorbikes, to dissecting a colossus king prawn from its shell under the beachy shade of coconut trees: part of the magic of eating Thai food is the experience that comes with it.
It’s hard to replicate that among the skyscrapers and shopping centres of London. But for your best bet this side of the Andaman Sea, these are the seven spots not to miss.
Formerly a strip club, this Shoreditch joint still has something of a grungy look, with exposed brick walls, industrial lighting and vinyls playing in the background.
However, it also serves outstanding Thai food and creative cocktails (we like the Thai-style michelada).
Most of the food is cooked straight over a flame, creating that impossible-to-replicate smoky taste. There are some veggie options but the main spotlight is on unusual cuts of meat which have been barbequed to sticky perfection. Highlights include the prik laab of chicken with offal and fried skin and the aged beef sirloin, heart skewer and galangal relish.
Many of the plates are small and guests are encouraged to share.
Another Shoreditch hotspot, Som Saa started life as a pop-up. It quickly gained a loyal customer base and following a hugely successful crowdfunding round managed to set up shop permanently on Commercial Street.
The menu combines seasonal British produce with unusual Thai flavours, such as the pad pak stir fry of farm greens with shimeji and oyster mushrooms.
Rather than choosing yourself, punt for one of the tem toh menus (which translates as “full table” in Thai). Chosen by the chefs, they include around six plates and cost from £25 per person.
Grabbing a table at the bar to sip on one of Som Saa’s signature cocktails and nibbling on its bar snacks before your meal is highly recommended.