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Busaba Eathai: Tasty Thai
The Soho branch of this Thai restaurant has received mixed reviews, but this one on the other side of Tottenham Court Rd a stone's throw away from the British Museum was superb every time I went. Though the food seems to be slightly more fusion than authentic Thai, the chefs really do know a thing or two about how to whip up a mean dish.
Atmosphere and decor are also unbeatable, as is the attention to details. Molton Brown hand wash and funky (if slightly confusing) toilet signs are all part and parcel of this dining experience. I quite appreciate their hip and efficient waiters too. Due to large communal tables, perhaps not the top choice for a romantic dinner, but for anything else, I'd definitely vote for this.
However, this branch does offer al fresco dining so go early to try your luck. Caters for large parties up to 20 as well in a quiet separate area. Good for celebrations.
Favorite Dish: *Green curry (get the whole bowl, not just the green curry with chicken)
*Coconut rice (great with the green curry)
*Chicken satay-- you will finish the gravy all on its own, long after you've devoured the chicken
For beverage, try the guava mix. Wouldn't really recommend the Jasmine Delight though... drink tastes odd...
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Busaba Eathai: Distinctly average food in trendy surroundings
I'd passed this place quite a few times and it's always fairly busy with quite a stylish ambience, which I thought a good sign. I popped in for lunch the other day to rest my bones after an afternoon's shopping and boy was I disappointed.
This restaurant is part of the growing set of trendy noodle eateries here, but I'd say it's a matter of style over substance. The menu certainly looks promising with some interesting sounding dishes to be had. The surroundings are undeniably very trendy, the usual shared tables, a warm teak coloured interior and toilets that are so stylish and over-designed that they've been raved about by reviewers more than the food.
Overall I wasn't impressed by this place, but in it's favour there is space to sit and eat outdoors which is quite a rare treat in London of a summer.
Favorite Dish: While the decor in this place is undeniably funky, to be honest, I ate the blandest Tom Yam Kai (spicy lemongrass and chicken noodle soup) that I have ever tasted, even though it was marked in the menu as being especially spicy. My eating partner had a chicken and rice dish that was also just plain bland. The quality of the meat was pretty poor, which at around £7 a dish didn't impress.
We had a 750ml bottle of water at around £2 which was the cheapest drinks option, rather than the (small) glasses of fruit smoothies that are available for about £2.50. Alcohol is also served. Note that this is a non-smoking restaurant.
Service was mixed, pretty disorganised and it took over 10 minutes for us to order our main course, while the people next to us were served within three minutes of sitting down. A slight air of pretentiousness wafted from the waiting staff too.
Overall I would say this place certainly didn't live up to its reputation the day I went and is best avoided. I've found Wagamama's chain of noodle bars to be a much more reliable bet, although again the staff there can have a bit of a superiority complex going on. Well, if one will choose to eat in one of those trendy noodle bars...
A meal for 2 at Busaba will set you back around £20 to £25.
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