Walking into the Halkin hotel in Belgravia is like walking into Thailand. I’m not talking tuk tuks, night markets and excellent fake handbags. I’m talking beautiful smells of eucalyptus, frangipani and jasmine, room service in bamboo baskets, friendly, smiling faces and Nahm.
The first Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in Europe Nahm is a taste of Thailand. Literally. It is without a doubt the most authentic Thai food I have ever had. It makes every other pad thai, green curry, massaman etc etc look like a smelly, grey sock.
Opting for head chef David Thompson’s tasting menu or ‘nahm arharn’ we kicked off proceedings with the ‘mar hor’ appetiser – a tangerine segment piled with a minced prawn and chicken concoction, sprinkled with deep-fried shallots, garlic and peanuts, topped with a single coriander leaf and a tiny spear of red chill. The idea being that this Lilliputian dish gives a complete picture of Thai cooking – mixing sweet, savoury, sour, salty and spicy. Utterly delicious.
Unlike an English meal, an authentic Thai banquet consists of several dishes including a relish (nahm prik (!)), a salad, a soup, a curry and a stir-fry, grilled or deep-fried item, designed to share as a Thai family would.
Following the appetisers, in quick succession of each other, came hot and sour soups, egg noodle nests filled with crab, minced quail curry with ginger and kaffir lime leaves, a meaty scallop salad with coconut, Asian citron and lemongrass, squid stir fried with chillies and holy basil and rich, meaty curries. All accompanied by a refreshing and aromatic bottle of Alsace – chosen expertly by the sommelier.
By the time dessert came round belts were being loosened and stomachs held in so sadly there was no room at the inn for sticky black rice with mango or fried bananas with coconut cream. Luckily the journey home didn’t involve an 11-hour flight, just a gentle waddle to the bus stop.
Best for: birthdays (it has a 30-seater private dining room), big appetites and Thai-lovers (not the kind you’re think of!)