I love Thai food as much as I adore The Punisher from Daredevil. Which is why I couldn’t wait to check out Zaap Thai, the latest addition to Nottingham’s restaurant scene. Nestled in the midst of Bromley Place, this restaurant boasts the fantastic location of being slap bang in the city centre.
One thing I’ve noticed whenever I pass Bromley Place is how busy Zaap Thai is, come hail or shine. Which can only mean good news for both restaurant critic and owner alike.
We were greeted by polite waiting staff in the traditional Thai manner (palms together with a gentle bow). We couldn’t help but gawk at the tuk tuk (or to the uninitiated, rickshaw) at the entrance. It was eye-catching and downright cool. Once I’d wrapped my head around the notion of a car in a restaurant (inside, I tell you!), we were whisked inside the restaurant… where we were seated in our very own tuk tuk.
The restaurant is extremely busy (it was peak time being Saturday afternoon after all), channelling authentic Thai markets selling street-food. There are a mixture of regular tables and tuk tuks, which gives the restaurant a casual, busy ambience. Being able to watch the chefs prepare food is a nice touch, and one that will no doubt stand Zaap Thai in good stead. Chefs’ Tables continue to be in high demand, no matter if it’s high end cuisine or cool, zippy street-food. What makes this particular restaurant deliciously dramatic, is the cluster of food and drink around the kitchen. Here is a selection of condiments flanking the kitchen, where intrigued diners could take a peek. How cool is that?
Having gotten comfortable in our tuk tuk, we placed an order. A heads-up – our lovely waiter did ask us, at the time of ordering, if we wanted the dishes to come out as they were made. Now, for some reason, I imagined (totally my bad) that they’d be made in order, so starter, main and dessert would come out in this order. I think I must have been really hungry, because I asked for the food to arrive “as it comes”. Which is why we wound up with starters and mains all together. In future, I’ll definitely ask if I can have a tiny wait between each course.
We kicked off with Look Chin Tod: Gai & Pla (deep fried chicken and fish balls on skewers). These weren’t what I expected, as I thought the meat would be more spicy or seasoned. These are great for those who have a mild palate, but they didn’t quite hit the spot for me (I found them too spongy and a little plain).
Our second starter was the Khanom Pang Na Gai (marinated minced chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds, toast) which I thought was delicious. It was sumptuously crisp on the outside, with a satisfying crunch, whilst the inside was dense and gorgeous.
My main was Pad Nam Prik Pao Gai (chicken stir-fried with chilli oil, vegetable and basil). This was a stunning, spicy dish. The chicken was deliciously moist and perfectly seasoned, the chunky vegetables still retaining that elusive bite. The jasmine rice too was fragrant and on the right side of soft (I have been to many restaurants where the rice is a stodgy ball of over-cooked carbohydrate).
My dining partner’s main was Larb Gai (minced chicken, chilli, spring onion, sweet basil and coriander). Dishes that are off the spice Richter scale are handily earmarked with a lovely symbol. At the time of ordering, we did ask the waiter to tone it down on the spice front, which he said he’d do. The dish was delicious – it was just too hot to enjoy. Another drink had to be ordered to quench the thirst brought about by the super hot chillies. (Just a note to Zaap Thai, to please relay the message of chilli factor to the kitchen if the diner asks.) I tasted the sauce (unfortunately I couldn’t have too much as it was too hot for my palate) and it was very tasty – the flavour of the sweet basil was unfortunately lost by the over powering chilli.
Thai desserts are interesting, much like Indian desserts, that consist mainly of ice-cream in a variation of clay pots. What I like about Zaap Thai’s dessert offerings, is that they have strayed from the UK norm and have a lovely selection. We shared a Custard Pancake served with vanilla ice-cream. It was gorgeous. The batter (imagine the texture of American pancakes, but half the depth and just as much flavour) was stunning. The custard filling wasn’t cloying but wonderfully smooth and fragrant, whilst the drizzle of toffee sauce brought the whole thing together.
The portions are generous, the smiles of waiting staff welcoming, and the restaurant is a cool place to hang out, for families and friends alike. That dessert was amazing (I am dreaming of it now whilst writing this). Go to Zaap Thai, you deserve a treat (and don’t forget to check out their perfect pancake).
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Food: 8 (that pancake did the trick, shifting from 7 up to 8)
Value for money: 9
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Address: Unit B, Bromley Place, Nottingham NG1 6JG
Telephone: 0115 947 0204