It’s the same old thing every January – you know how it is.
Christmas is over, you’ve eaten enough food in a fortnight to see you through until at least the end of the month, you’ve no money left until pay day and, this year, you really, really are going to start making an effort to save more money.
Except, it’s only a week in to January, it’s already quite depressing, and nothing you’ve got left in the cupboards at home seems quite as appealing as the prospect of a meal out. And you’ve managed at least, ooh, a week without going out. Surely you deserve to treat yourself?
So, that’s how my friend and I found ourselves in Chai Yo Thai after work the other day.
Conveniently located just a few steps from the Post’s offices, in a little alleyway off Upper Parliament Street, it had been tempting me for many weeks as I walked past it on my lunch breaks.
I’m a huge fan of Thai food and, whilst I love the flashiness of Tarn Thai in Hockley, this place looks far more authentic.
From the outside it appears quite small, but inside it seats far more than I was expecting. Or it would have, had there been any other customers there…
A small group occupied one of the other tables when we first arrived but before long we were the only customers in the restaurant.
Sometimes this can be a bad thing as you feel a bit like everyone who works there could just go home and have an early night if you weren’t there, but our waitress was absolutely brilliant and made us feel really welcome, explaining items on the menu to us, and talking about Thai traditions.
For our starters we chose to share two dishes – deep fried tempura prawns with sweet chilli sauce and spicy fishcakes with sweet chilli peanut sauce.
The huge prawns were beautifully cooked, encased in crisp, golden batter, but retaining their flavour, while the sweet chilli sauce had a real kick.
There were five of them on the plate – we’d already tucked in by the time I took this photo – making it a very generous portion for £5.50.
The fishcakes were equally as good – moist and packed with fish, as opposed to potato, and full of delicate Thai flavours of ginger and lemongrass.
For my main course I chose beef Mussaman curry, while my friend chose the red Thai chicken curry.
Mine was packed with large slices of tasty beef, and chunky veg and potatoes, all bound together in a warming, creamy sauce, with just the right hint of spice.
The red Thai chicken curry, on the other hand, was slightly disappointing. The sauce lacked the depth and creaminess you would expect in that kind of curry, with the balance of flavours tipping a bit too much towards the sour rather than the sweet. It was almost as if there just wasn’t quite enough coconut milk in the sauce.
While perfectly pleasant, it just wasn’t quite what you’d hope from for a red curry. Fortunately, the portions were huge and there was still plenty of my green curry left to share, along with mounds of lovely, sticky rice.
At just £6.95 for each of the main courses, the bill didn’t break the bank either.
For good value Thai food in a lovely setting, with excellent service, Chai Yo is definitely worth a look. I can think of far worse places to break the post-Christmas diet plan!