Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Restaurant review // Thaikhun, Nottingham

As a family, we love eating out. Not only is it great in terms of me not having to cook (or deal with the washing up aftermath.... hurrah!), but I think it is really important in terms of quality family time and child development too. I'm a firm believer that eating out teaches children social skills, patience, conversation skills and manners. 

We're always on the lookout for new places to eat too so we were delighted to be invited to Thaikhun in Nottingham last week to try out their brand new children's menu and sample their incredibly varied summer menu*

So, what is Thaikhun? Pronounced "tycoon", the name celebrates street food sellers in Thailand who are real tycoons - those who own and run their own successful food businesses. The restaurant has a lively, authentic feel to it with open kitchens and traditional style rustic surroundings. 

The restaurant in Nottingham is situated in the Victoria Shopping Centre and has both indoor and outdoor seating. The venue is very easy to find, with plenty of car parking spaces available nearby. 

After a busy morning shopping in the Victoria Centre, we were feeling quite peckish and headed over to Thaikhun for out 1pm reservation. We were seated quickly in a quiet little corner complete with a good view of the rest of the restaurant and their outdoor space too.    

I am such a fan of Thai food and as this was our first visit to Thaikhun, I couldn't wait to see what the menu offered. 

The range of different food available on the menu is excellent. If you're a newbie to Thai food then there are mouth watering descriptions for every dish to help you decide. Also, "must try" dishes are highlighted in each section, a real nice touch. My husband and I were feeling pretty hungry and so we decided to attempt to plough through a full three courses.... and I'm so glad that we did!

The children's menu is a new addition to the Thaikhun offering. They have teamed up with Nat Geo Kids and worked closely with blogger Alice Judge Talbot to create a varied, healthy and exciting dining experience for children. The children's offer includes vegetable sticks to start, a choice of main course, an ice lolly for dessert and a choice of drink. Not bad for £5.95! The menu also states that free creepy crawlies come with every meal..... something that never actually materialised for us. To be honest, this was a bit of a relief for me but I felt it was a little unfair to advertise something quite boldly and then not actually deliver.  

Whilst we were waiting for our meals, Miss E was presented with a Nat Geo Kids activity sheet and a pot of vegetable sticks to keep her busy until her meal came. The activity sheet was really super and was complete with a variety of activities, quizzes and facts. A crayon or two would have been really handy alongside this though and we found ourselves rooting through our bags looking for a pen to complete the activity! 

The drinks menu was pretty impressive complete with a long list of amazing sounding cocktails (served by the glass or sharing bucket!). As it was the middle of the day though, we opted for soft drinks and juice for both myself and Miss E. The cranberry juice was lovely and chilled. Very refreshing and just what I needed! 

On to the starters! My husband chose the por pia sod tofu which consisted of hand wrapped veggie rice paper rolls with lettuce, shredded carrots, tofu strips, mint, coriander and basil. He was pretty blown away by the size of this starter, it was a real little mountain of food! All incredibly fresh looking and crammed full of colour. Husband said this was absolutely delicious and he had no problems clearing the plate.

I chose the moo ping to start with which was delicious grilled and marinated pork skewers served with a tangy chilli dip. I'm not usually a fan of pork but my goodness, the meat was cooked to perfection. Absolutely melt in the mouth, very moreish. The chilli dip was the perfect partner too. It was all so good, i'd definitely have it again! 

Our starters were swiftly cleared away once we were finished and all of our main courses were served promptly. Miss E had the mix and match Thai tray and with this she opted for the plain noodles, grilled chicken and a sweet BBQ sauce.

I love how the meal was presented, in a nice little tray complete with compartments allowing the food to stay separate. Kiddo can be super fussy with her food and so at home we serve her food like this too. This means that she can try new things and eat what she likes, mixing foods together when she's ready!

She had real good fun with the noodles although these did cool very quickly, meaning that they became quite difficult to eat after a little while. She did manage to clear both the chicken and the noodles though and sampled the sweet BBQ sauce by dipping her chicken. For a little lady with a small appetite, she did incredibly well! 

My husband opted for the massaman curry with chicken which was highlighted on the menu as a "must try" dish. The curry is flavoured with cinnamon and star anise, cooked with potatoes, onion and cashew nuts. The dish was served with a good portion of jasmine rice and the whole thing looked delicious! Usually i'll be a bit cheeky and try a bit of whatever my husband is having (for reference, obvs) but as I was enjoying my main course so much, I didn't this time! He said it was really tasty though, very filling and flavoursome.  

For my main course, I went for a stir fry. Again, I went for a "must try" by choosing the nua phad kra prao which consisted of tender beef slices stir-fried with fresh chilli and 'holy basil'. I was advised when ordering this to choose a side to accompany this dish as it might not be filling enough on it's own so I chose the rice noodles with soy sauce, bean sprouts and fried garlic. 

My main was nicely presented and I can't get over how fresh it all tasted. The meat was delicious, once again cooked to absolute perfection. Even though this dish was perfectly sized, it was just so incredibly delicious that I wanted more. Ah well, we'll just have to visit again! 

Once we had finished our mains, Miss E was presented with her dessert.... a chocolate mini milk. I'd had a peek at the adult desserts on the menu and I was super excited by what I saw (Thai waffles, mango sticky rice, banana fritters.... yum!) so I was really quite disappointed to see that the children's dessert offering was just a bog standard chocolate mini milk. I'd love to see children offered a scoop of that delicious sounding ice cream or something a little more inventive. Nonetheless, Miss E polished it off... I guess you can't go wrong with a chocolate mini milk! 

We don't usually 'do' dessert when we eat out but after taking a look at the menu, I instantly knew I had to try those banana fritters! My husband didn't want to feel left out so he went for the "thai bounty", a warm chocolate fondant served with coconut ice cream. Again, we loved the fresh touches.... here, the dessert was adorned with fresh mint, strawberry and orange. 

My husband said that the chocolate was amazing but noted that the ice cream was vanilla and not coconut as advertised on the menu. A little disappointing that it wasn't mentioned when brought to the table but nonetheless, husband scoffed the lot and said it was all scrumptious. 

The banana fritters arrived and they were just as good as I hoped. Not too sweet, warm, sticky.... absolutely incredible! The vanilla pod ice cream was the perfect accompaniment, I just couldn't get enough! There were four of the banana fritters which I thought was really generous, just the right amount in fact.  

Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Thaikhun. The food was perfection, cooked brilliantly and presented beautifully. We couldn't fault the quality or freshness of everything that we ate. It was all incredible! The restaurant interior is stunning, authentic feeling and really well thought out. We loved it!

There were only a few things that were a let down for us and the main one i'm sad to say was service. Whilst speedy, we were served by so many members of staff that I feel communication went amiss somewhere along the way. We weren't once asked if we'd like more drinks, for example.

We'd definitely like to eat at Thaikhun again in the future, the food was really worth going back for. In terms of the children's menu, we thought it was super and it was really nice to see something different being offered instead of the usual 'something, chips and beans/peas'! It's always good to add another 'family friendly restaurant' to our list of places to eat as a family and Thaikhun will certainly be going on that list!

Have you ever eaten at Thaikhun before? Where are your favourite family friendly restaurants? Let me know in a comment below!

* We were given a complimentary meal in return for an honest review.

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