01 | Nov | 11

Richard Johnson

Thai-riffic?

Remember the spork? I never got to grips with its spoon/fork interface. And now I’ve come across something just as useless – let’s call it the fopstick. The fork/chopstick was sheer bloody craziness. But maybe I should have expected it – after all, I was eating at the Crazy Bear, the Thai restaurant chain. The idea of ‘East meets West’ cutlery was a good one, but a bugger if you happened to be hungry.

I ordered two steamed king scallops (£3.50 each) on a salad of coriander, spring onion and crispy garlic. When the scallops arrived, the fopstick became an issue. Not just its shape – its size. It was big. I felt like a character in a nursery rhyme – when was the giant due back? And it looked even bigger because the table was so small, with a lamp slap-bang in the middle. I couldn’t even reach my gai lan (£4).

The result? I spilt the Riesling. Chinese and Thai food work well with light fruity reds such as Beaujolais. But I prefer a slightly acidic white, such as Riesling, served cold – in a glass, that is, rather than over my trousers. The red thai curry (£11) with chilli would have overpowered the Riesling, so we ordered a yellow curry instead. With nothing to distinguish it from the food I get at my local take-away.

In fairness, the gai lan – or Chinese broccoli – was perfect (once I moved the lamp out the way). The vegetable’s natural bitterness offset the sweetness of the yellow curry beautifully. It also made up for the morning glory. Chinese morning glory is best stir fried. Thai morning glory is best eaten raw in a salad. This stringy mess of green was best left in a bin out the back.

Thai food is known for being difficult, but it’s among the most popular cuisines in the World. There is now a Thai-style restaurant in almost every major city on the planet. And David Thompson, the brilliant Australian chef, has even had the audacity to open one in Bangkok. So why is Thai food still so notably absent on Britain’s streets? Is there anyone out there? Let us know at www.facebook.com/britishstreetfood.