Sunday, 22 May 2011
Dinner @ Paolina Thai Café
I can't speak for all food bloggers but a welcome side effect of my hobby is the number of requests I receive from friends to check out different eateries. One such request was from the Mysterious Mrs A to try the Paolina Thai Café. Also joining us was El Greco, and as Paolina does BYO so did a welcome fourth guest, a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
I wasn't over enamoured with the deep-fried starters of wontons and corn cakes, especially as the latter consisted mainly of batter. The garlicky steamed kanom jeep dumplings were better but the pick of the starters was a particularly spicy poh tak soup that came with plenty of seafood. I much prefer this cleaner hot and sour soup to the ubiquitous tom yum.
Moving onto the mains, I thought the kang mussamun (beef mussamun curry) was too sweet, and I preferred the kang dang gai (green chicken curry). The Mysterious Mrs A was a fan of the moo kratiem prik tai (stir-fried marinated pork w/garlic, pepper and coriander), which was very flavoursome. I wonder what they put in the marinade?
However for me, the stars of the evening were the side dishes. The papaya based som tum salad is one of my fave Thai dishes and this zingy version was a real winner. But even better was the pad Thai – one of the better renditions that I've come across in London. Unlike many renditions of this dish, this one wasn't too sweet.
Paolina is dirt-cheap – none of the dishes we ordered cost more than £5.90. Our bill with rice and a generous tip came to around £60 or £20 per head, but that's only because we over ordered – an inevitable side effect of blogging! For normal appetites, you can eat well for between £10 and £15 per head.
This place is tiny and is very much a caff rather than a restaurant, but I think that adds to the charm. Service was efficient and unobtrusive with that customary Thai charm. Whilst Paolina isn't going to challenge to be London's best Thai, it's far from the worse. Should you find yourself in the vicinity, it's well worth a visit, especially as it does BYO!
Paolina Thai Café, 181 Kings Cross Rd, London, WC1X 9BZ
(Tel: 020-7278-8176) Nearest stations: Kings Cross, St Pancras