Review: The latest addition to Leeds’s Thai food scene that’s not hard to miss
Whereas Indian food occupies the throne of Britain’s culinary psyche, Thai food could easily be considered its milder southeast Asian cousin.
However, the tide has recently been turning in Leeds, with restaurants such as My Thai and Chaophraya fighting Thailand’s corner for the city’s cuisine crown.
One of the more recent additions to the scene was Zaap Thai in Grand Arcade, and it’s not hard to miss.
No expense seems to have been spared when it comes to the decor - the place looks more like a museum street scene, with Thai signs, Thai traffic lights and even - presumably immobile - Thai vehicular transport dressed up as tables.
There is also a bar, although as it was lunchtime, we felt it a little early in the day to indulge.
I’ve often walked past this place and noticed it looks pretty full too, so hopefully that is a good sign about what’s to come.
The first thing I noticed when sitting down was a container stuffed full of steel cutlery. I counted 11 forks for our two-person table - ideal if you’re the kind of person who drops their utensils nine times during a meal. They’ve thought of everything here.
A usual Thai standard for myself is chicken satay which, let’s face it, is pretty hard to get wrong. With this in mind, I opted to go a little more adventurous. After all, they’ve made the effort of sourcing a table carved out of a tuk-tuk, the least I can do is sample the Sai Grog - or sour pork sausages to you and me. While their look and texture resembled one of Lincolnshire’s finest, the taste was a trip to downtown Chiang Mai, with a sour spiciness encased within. Probably the kind of sausage for people who don’t generally enjoy sausages.
My dining companion opted for Tod Mun Pla (fishcakes). Gorgeous, they were - with a slightly poultry-like texture too.
For mains, my companion chose the chicken Gang Massaman - a curry made with peanuts; while I opted for the Gang Panaeng - a curry made with lime. The two dishes looked remarkably similar, although mine admittedly contained a few more vegetables.
Richly flavoured but holding back on the heat, these were two incredibly creamy curries, although both managed to keep their dignity, avoiding the milkshake-esque trappings of the korma. As someone who enjoys neatly-prepared things, the accompanying little fez of rice was also a low-key treat.
Our decision to gorge ourselves with two courses of rich food in the middle of the day was perhaps a little misjudged, but, at £36 for two starters, two mains and a drink, why not fill up at lunch every now and then?
Now someone call me a tuk-tuk - I need to get back to work...