Nipa Thai restaurant at the Lancaster London offers Londoners a taste of the exotic as Vicky Smith finds when she visits the Thai restaurant in central London
In my experience, it’s pretty difficult to find ‘bad’ Thai food. Whether it costs a fiver from a pop-up stall down the road, or is the real McCoy, enjoyed on the powder-soft sands of a beach on Koh Phangan (I still get misty-eyed at the memory), the likes of Pad Thai, red curry and Som Tum always taste good, thanks to their powerful and distinctive flavour combos. So what can make an already brilliant dining experience even more special? Quite a lot, as we discovered on a recent visit to Nipa Thai.
Located on the first floor of the Lancaster London hotel, this beautiful restaurant wins diners over immediately with really splendid views over Hyde Park, which provide a verdant and very English contrast to the traditional Thai wood-carved walls and furnishings inside. Service is also lovely, and we were greeted with a cheery chorus of ‘sawadika’ from the charming and ever-so-helpful staff, who were happy to assist when it came to choosing from the extensive menu.
Sharing a selection of starters seemed the best option when faced with such an array of dishes. Of the titbits we tried, the chicken satay was especially good, served not only with creamy peanut sauce but a piquant cucumber dip too, and the fried prawn dumplings were a hit as well. On to mains, and a stir-fry of scallops in a deeply savoury and spicy sauce was insanely generous – not only were the shellfish plump and juicy, they were also plentiful, whilst the crispy sea bass arrived as two sizeable fillets topped with gorgeously aromatic holy basil, and a zingy, lip-smacking sauce of coriander, onion and chillies to pour over the top. Both dishes were truly impressive. A side of bean curd and vegetables in sweet and sour sauce was a perfect way to cool things down, and was proclaimed ‘the nicest bean curd I’ve ever tasted’ by my dining companion.
Just as good as the food was the wine, and I urge you to try a bottle of Thai rosé when you visit – as with the rest of Nipa, you won’t be disappointed.
Starters from £11, mains from £16. Set menus from £35 per person
Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace W2 2TY; 020 7551 6039; niparestaurant.co.uk