Nipa Thai is a proud, classic restaurant: affordable, but with an air of seriousness that makes eating out feel special again.
Located on the first floor of the famous Lancaster London hotel, my guest and I enjoyed a window seat with a suitably dramatic (if limited) view of Hyde Park. As we settled into the experience, I found I adored the restaurant’s ever-so-slightly outdated decor, nevertheless attractive and polished, lending a feeling of lived-in authenticity. I hope it stays exactly the same for years to come.
The food, meanwhile, was the best Thai I’ve ever eaten.
We started with the Ruam Mitr starter platter, featuring familiar classics such as Satay Kai (chicken satay) and Por Sia Sod (vegetable spring rolls).
I always enjoy deep fried or battered food such as prawn dumplings – despite of the typically overpowering taste of grease. However, these items were pretty light, allowing the delicate notes of peanut, chili and lemongrass of the accompanying sauces to shine through.
For my main I chose the Koong Mangkorn Phas Prig Tai Dam – or, virtually a whole stir-friend lobster with no bells or whistles, cooked to succulent, glistening perfection. Served in and around its shell, it certainly made a statement with its dramatic appearance.
We also opted for a side of huge, lightly fried Tod Mun Kao Pod, or sweetcorn fritters – substantial and very, very moreish, this is my idea of comfort food. We rounded things off with some Kao Niew (steamed, glutinous rice; what a beautiful trio of words) and had all but entered a rice-and-corn-induced carb coma by dessert. Still, we made room for a dainty portion of soft, light, mango-flavored sticky rice.
The food at Nipa Thai feels self-assured. Head Chef Sanguan Parr has worked here for an impressive 16 years, and her knowledge and experience of the brand she’s helped create – from the swift service and the quality of food to its flawless, artful presentation – is palpable.
These qualities have rubbed off on the cool, confident waitstaff. A special mention for our waitress, who demonstrated a meticulous, personal familiarity with the menu when we asked for help with our orders. Truly impressive.
For more information about Nipa Thai, visit the official website by clicking here.