Busaba Ethai is one of my safe, go-to restaurants for a satisfying mid-week meal. The service is always friendly and fast, the interiors are sleek, the menu has something to offer even the pickiest of eaters and it's great value for money.
When the restaurant chain asked me to visit their Stratford Westfield branch to review their new Summer Specials menu a few weeks ago I jumped at the chance - I always order the same meal every time I visit so it was a great opportunity to venture outside of my comfort zone.
We started our meal with a bottle of white wine and crispy prawn crackers with sweet chilli sauce. The atmosphere of the restaurant is lively yet relaxed, with floor to ceiling glass windows that allow lots of natural light to filter through. Sitting by the window, we enjoyed a spot of people watching before our food arrived.
Duck and pineapple lettuce bites came up first with cucumber, mint, shallot and a sweet chili lime dressing. At £6.95 it makes a great sharing dish and was a light yet fragrant dish which set the tone for the rest of our meal and a A zingy side of Thai slaw (pictured back left, £4.95) added a much needed crunch with chow-chow, green beans, ginger and lime.
Pictured on the right at the front is the grilled chicken and mango salad (£11.95) accompanied by baby gem leaves, cherry tomatoes, mint, sweet chili lime dressing and a wonton crisp, and at the back a Thai Summer beef salad (£12.95) featuring slow cooked beef, cherry tomatoes, dressed green vegetables and wonton crisp. Both delivered a mixture of textures and an array of flavours, and I particularly enjoyed the fruity lift of the mango and lime.
The heaviest dish of the day, the Patpong chicken noodles (£11.95), includes flat rice noodles, shiitake mushrooms and green beans stir-fried in curry base with crunchy chow chow. On the menu it read beautifully, however when served it was WAY too hot for me to handle. Our waiter noticed me struggling and kindly bought me some coconut milk which helped sooth my burning mouth - although it wasn't the perfect dish for me, I know some of my fiery friends would enjoy it.
The Bang-kick prawns (£7.50) were quickly gobbled up and we could have easily eaten another plate. However, the real 'star of the show' was the Fish curry with starfruit (pictured top, £13.95) - its light and zesty sauce was addictive! Served with sweet coconut rice, this dish delivered the typically aromatic flavours I associate with Thailand and has become my favourite dish on their whole menu.
If you're looking for a restaurant for a mid-week catch up, weekend lunch or relaxed dinner, Busaba Ethai should be top of your list.