It was 15 years ago that Alan Yau first opened the doors to Busaba Eathai, and now the UK’s leading Thai restaurant group is opening their most ambitious site in Shoreditch, featuring 164 covers, a Kinneree Bar and two terraces. Busaba Eathai CEO Jason Myers tells us more
How ambitious is the opening of Busaba Eathai Shoreditch?
This has been our most ambitious Busaba since we launched 15 years ago. Busaba Shoreditch introduces four distinct new elements to the Busaba offering. It was ambitious in its scale, scope and execution. On approach you are met with lush tropical terraces and a two-storey courtyard with reflection pond and surrounded by living walls. Within moments you’ve forgotten that you’re in Shoreditch.
What will the Kinnaree Bar bring to the brand?
In true Busaba style, it is a sophisticated, intrinsically designed space offering a premium experience at a competitive price – our Thai-inspired cocktails are all £7.50, and wine is available from £4 per glass.
The launch marks the brand’s 15th birthday – how would you say Busaba Eathai has evolved in that time?
It’s a testament to the brilliance of Alan Yau that in many ways the brand is still very true to its original essence. There is an ethos that runs through Busaba, a cultural DNA that is unlike anywhere I’ve worked before. For example, one of the most important rituals at Busaba is the blessing of a new branch. At Shoreditch, like all of the other branches, we had Thai Buddhist monks from Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon come to bless the restaurant. All of the staff, regardless of their background, feel honoured to be included. It’s a lovely, serene ceremony.
Why was Shoreditch perfect for the next chapter of the story?
Since its inception, Busaba has always had a creative heart. Soho was an entirely different place when we opened 15 years ago – Wardour Street was surrounded by off-licenses and sex shops! But the locals were creative spirits; Busaba was packed with designers, actors, musicians and artists.
As the creatives left the West End it was only natural that Busaba would join them in East London. We opened our Hoxton branch five years ago, and this opportunity in Shoreditch was a natural choice.
Were you always looking for a site that enabled you to offer a dining room, bar area and terraced space?
There was always a vision to enrich the Busaba experience. Many of our branches have outdoor terraces, but at Shoreditch there is the added advantage of the bar and dining room opening onto a large enclosed atrium. It’s allowed us to keep all the doors open to create a really warm ambience.
This site will also house the Busaba CookThai academy. What’s the thinking behind that?
The Busaba CookThai classes have always been really popular, normally held at our Leicester Square location on Sunday mornings. We also wanted to create a dedicated training and development kitchen to ensure that we had the best facilities possible for our chef teams. So, it was a natural choice to incorporate this into our new flagship. From mid-April we will be holding CookThai classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Attendees learn three Thai dishes and the repertoire changes regularly. Visit busaba.com/classes for more information.
Can we expect anything different from the bar and dining room menus at Busaba Eathai Shoreditch?
We have introduced a new lunch menu called the Taste Thai Lunch Set. For £9.50 customers can enjoy one of our Executive Chef’s newest creations with a soft drink or juice. Some of his latest offers have included pulled mussaman beef wrapped in Thai roti with sweet potato fries dusted with laab spices, green salted beef curry and railway fried rice.
The latter is one of my new favourites. Chef Jude Sangsida’s railway fried rice was inspired by his childhood memories of long train journeys across Thailand and is a simple stir-fry of chicken, rice, tomato and Chinese broccoli topped with a Thai style fried egg.
Will all the old favourites be on offer too?
Of course. I think there would be a riot if we opened Busaba without Thai calamari, Pad Thai and Green Chicken Curry!
You opened with a six week series of Sookjai wellbeing workshops toot. What’s the idea behind these?
Sookjai is the backbone of Busaba’s culture – this idea of keeping yourself centred, mindful, and incorporating that into your every day life, so that you keep your head clear of all the crazy chaos. Many of our team offsite days or training will start with meditation or yoga – and produces great creativity and open-minded problem solving.
Finally Jason, can you sum up the kind of experience visitors will have at Busaba Eathai Shoreditch?
We hope that visitors have the same warm, friendly and slick experience that they always enjoy at Busaba but with the added benefit of a few cocktails before or after dinner, or a fun CookThai class after a long day at work.
Words: Mark Kebble
Busaba Eathai Shoreditch, 36 Bethnal Green Road E1 6HT; 020 7033 1288; busaba.com