Food to thai for

A night at 'Little Thai' restaurant, St Helier Review by Sonia Smith

THERE is nothing little about the flavours delivered at Little Thai, currently one of the most most buzzing eating establishments in St Helier. Hidden amongst an eclectic mix of shops and offices on Hill Street, you might just miss this little gem, if it weren’t for the stylish pink sign outside the door promising oriental delights and the distinct aroma of Thai spices emanating from within. It was with some excitement that we dragged ourselves away from the splendid display of glittering decanters in the window of Dunell’s wine merchants and made our way towards the heady aromas and into this cosy little restaurant. We were immediately greeted with warm smiles and a vibrant atmosphere that belied the bleakness of this time of year. This is not a restaurant that allows you much choice of where to sit, so we took our places at the only empty table and breathed a sigh of relief at having booked in advance. The first pleasant surprise was the décor. Accents of pink, ornate mirrors, plastic but unusually pretty table cloths… Indeed, this is no dingy ethnic take away joint adorned with tacky bingo hall ornaments. The second pleasant surprise was the prompt arrival of a large jug of (very) cold water, two large shimmering and shapely glasses of San Miguel and a cool and crisp (not over priced) bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for the girls. The waiters appeared to have better eyesight than is the norm and we found that we were spared a cricked neck and allowed a flowing conversation whilst still attracting their attention. A rare treat nowadays. We decided to be greedy and order five starters amongst the four of us, a decision also motivated by our total inability to resist the wide variety of options that all sounded so delicious (a problem compounded by the arrival of the specials board, unfortunately a little too late in the day for its dishes to become real contenders, despite containing a beautiful sea bream red curry, fresh from the sea). The stars of the starters were undoubtedly the golden money bags (bite sized filo bags of prawns with heavenly balanced thai flavours) and for me, the crab and ginger spring rolls. The tempura squid also passed the taste and texture test with flying colours. The batter was light with that essential melt-in-the-mouth quality and our conversation was not brought to a halt in favour of endless and regretful chewing. A good first date choice then, although go easy on the chilli (or wear appropriate clothing). Be warned, “medium” could easily be described as “hot” by the average Jerseyman and certainly in the days before the invention of chicken Kiev and the ensuing British food revolution, even “mild” could have presented a challenge to many. Good job for the large jugs of water and the ice cold beer. Despite their fiery nature, the main courses certainly did not disappoint either. Classic duck penang with refreshing lychees and a creamy and dish-licking green chicken curry were accompanied by properly cooked coconut rice, delicious pad Thai noodles and egg fried rice. We also enjoyed a fresh and vibrant Thai salad, which was not to everyone’s taste perhaps depending on their attitude to salad. The star of the main courses, however, was undoubtedly the crispy belly pork, which really could become an addiction. By the time the bill came we were full of the joys of a wonderful evening of good food and excellent service and floating in fabulous flavours. Such was the mood amongst us that we even struck up conversation with the folk on the table next to ours, a real sign of (two) happy tables. If there is one place worth visiting in gale force winds this winter, it has to be Little Thai. After all, you won’t know unless you thai it!