I have only once had Thai food in Thailand. I was in transit at Bangkok airport and dined in the restaurant there. Absolutely magnificent stuff, which delighted my palate and disrupted my digestive system. I then had a long flight back to Europe, in a window seat. My neighbours got little sleep that night as I clambered over them several times to dash to the recycling facilities.
At its best, Thai food can be fragrant, full-of-flavour and well-spiced. I have eaten very spicy dishes, which may well be more authentic than the toned-down stuff I prefer these days, but I tend to go easy on the chili after that meal at the airport.
There may be better Thai restaurants in Pretoria than Padbok, but I have yet to discover one, and while Padbok is a rather strange place, I do love going there.
It is a vast restaurant with very little atmosphere and clumsy service. However, the food is excellent. The kitchen opens on to the restaurant, and the chefs clearly know what they are doing, as the food is cooked and served briskly.
Three of us went along for lunch, and had a varied and enjoyable meal, ordering enough for some doggie bags to be required.
My favourite starter dish was the beef salad, which had excellent flavour, a nice mix of meat and salad ingredients, although the beef was a bit fatty. We shared a generous portion of chicken satays, which I found a bit dry and slightly underwhelming, but the others enjoyed them. The prawn spring rolls were tasty, but there was a lot more pastry than prawn, which was a shame.
For mains, I went straight for the Chicken Panang Curry, an exquisite balance of flavours, which went well with the plain steamed rice. The stir-fried beef with chili and basil contained more green beans than beef, and was a bit too spicy for me. I was outvoted on that one. I loved the stir-fried sweet and sour chicken, even though it was initially a bit dry – as the meat rested on the sauce, which had not been well mixed-in, to coat the battered chicken. The fried prawns in tamarind sauce, topped with crispy garlic and shallot, was excellent – as was the Pad Thai dish of noodles with prawns.
There was no room for dessert. We shared a bottle of sparkling water and a Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2015m, which was quite wooded and went well with the food.
The restaurant also has quite a range of sushi, which I did not try. I prefer cooked food.
Although we had ordered five main dishes, only four initially arrived, and I had to prompt the waitress to find the other one. There is a reasonable wine list, but they tend to run out of stock, and one wonders at this lack of attention to detail.
With tip, the bill came to R850.
Would I go back? I do a lot. It has its faults, but the food, in general, is very good.
Rating: I give it a 4*
Key to the Ratings….
1* Dog food is nicer
2*. Cat food is nicer
3*. Not bad if Woolworths is sold out of ready meals.
4*. I like it
5*. I love it. Not to be missed.