There’s some things I’m very loyal to: friends, deodorant and really good restaurants. One of the restaurants we’re particularly loyal to is Jino’s thai restaurant in Headingley. It’s got that traditional thai cafe feel to it and the food is great. So when I was asked if I’d like to review Chaophraya in Leeds city centre I was faced with a dilemma. I felt like I was cheating on Jino’s, would I be sure this gamble would pay off? Would the grass really be greener on the other side? The nice thing was that I was asked to review the restaurant without having to attend a blogger event or have to sit with a PR person telling me how great the restaurant was. I was free to enjoy it as any other customer would, which made me feel a lot more comfortable.
You’d be forgiven for missing this place, it’s around the city centre loop that you wouldn’t normally travel on foot. I’d seen it whilst I was driving around but as it’s also off the road, I hadn’t really seen inside or knew anything about the restaurant itself. It was nice to walk in and be greeted with a “Sawadee-ka”. The decor gives a great feel to the restaurant. It’s upmarket without being pretentious and it was pretty busy: lively chat and warm Thai hospitality really added to the whole ambience of the place.
The staff were nice and attentive without being overbearing. Even though they knew I’d come in to review the restaurant I didn’t feel that they were doing it especially for me, as I observed a few other tables and they got the same service. I spotted cocktails on the menu and ordered a Thai cocktail – Yok Lor which is “Muddled blackberries, raspberries & strawberries shaken with Raspberry Vodka, Chambord & cranberry juice.” It was totally delish, very boozy! I managed to abstain from drinking it all at once, well behaved I feel.
We ordered the mixed appetiser – it’s a favourite of mine as you get to try lots of good stuff and it arrived very promptly, probably between 5 and 10 minutes after ordering. Note I say probably, the Yok Lor was taking effect! The mixed starter was excellent – the chicken from the chicken satay was perfectly soft, the prawn toasts not too crunchy with a good amount of prawn on them, the spring rolls had excellent flavours (I usually fear many restaurant’s spring rolls as they’re often slimy inside) and the siu mai, they were darn good. Siu Mai’s just about one of my favourite foods and the pastry didn’t have that manufactured taste like the ones you buy from the shop. Did I mention that the tempura prawns were bigger than like, TWO of my fingers?! The only downside we felt was that the sauces were presented in these very odd little miniature pint glasses which you couldn’t dip into, you had to pour the sauce on your plate. The sauces were nevertheless good!
After each course was finished, the table was wiped down as well as the plates removed. Pretty handy if you’re mucky pups like we are. And rice does tend to go everywhere. The main course arrived in what felt like seconds after our starter plates were cleared from the table. I know I shouldn’t moan about them being prompt (especially when the restaurant was full) and I know that I could have asked to wait a little longer, but I really wanted more time to digest my starter. For me, a meal is about taking the whole evening – this is no fast food joint, I don’t want to be in and out within an hour! I like to savour and appreciate the meal and spend time with whoever I’m dining with. We were also sat a two person square table. That was fine, there was only two of us, but the plates were huge and we struggled to fit three on the table.
For the main Mr LTT ordered lamb massaman curry, I ordered a pad thai so we had something of a comparison and then we ordered another main, tamarind duck, just to try something a bit different. The portions were huge, I should’ve just ordered two mains but I thought if I was going to do a proper review that I should at least go for it. I really wish we’d asked for doggy bags but we went for more cocktails afterwards and we didn’t think Sky Bar would take kindly to it! The lamb massaman was deliciously creamy, the meat tender. We usually go for a green, red or Penang but this was a great alternative. I loved the little dollop of youghurt on top, although it didn’t really need it as it wasn’t too spicy hot. The pad thai was pretty darn good as well – definitely in my top pad thai’s I’ve eaten of all time (and I ate a lot of them while I was travelling!). I liked that the peanuts weren’t mixed in and I could squeeze my own lime into it. It really had that sweet and spicy kick that resonates through all thai food. The duck was also good, perfectly cooked like all the other meat we had and I loved the addition of cashews. Nuts in food is massively underrated! Mr LTT wasn’t so sure about the duck, he thought it was a bit sweet but I don’t think he really knew what tamarind was. I loved it and thought it was a great accompaniment to our other dishes, but I don’t think I’d have had it as a main dish on its own.
Having left a fair bit of our main meal, I really didn’t think I’d have room for pudding. But Mr LTT insisted we needed to try all the courses so we shared a deep fried ice cream between us. Now, I don’t think that this is an especially thai dish myself, I don’t really remember ever seeing it on the menu anywhere. But I did enjoy it. Underneath the thick battered and deep fried outer, was a creamy coconut icecream. A perfect dish to share! I did love the rich dark chocolate sauce that accompanied it too. Mr LTT at this point decided he was going to try one of the cocktails himself and ordered a Siam Smile
Mr LTT decided to do some investigation on his walk to and from the loo. The kitchen was open for customers to see in and he reported it to be very clean. He also gave the toilets a good rating. Don’t you hate it when you go somewhere nice and the loos really let the place down? Plus there was no music playing, the chatter from the happy customers provided enough ambience to fill the restaurant.
I really loved this restaurant, you’ll note that the only things I have to complain about are the service being too quick (!) and the plates being too large for the table. If that’s all the complaint I can find about a place, then that’s definitely a good sign. It’s perfect for a nice upmarket meal in the city and we definitely agreed we’d come back here again and possibly bring our parents. I’m really glad I was invited to review it or I might never have visited!
Chaophraya has five restaurants in the North/Midlands – Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield & Birmingham. The one in Leeds is really need the station, so it’s handy for us as we got off the train and were there in five minutes! You can find out more and look at the menus on their website Chaophraya.co.uk