They say never meet your heroes, but it can be just as daunting visiting their restaurants, says Zoë Perrett – who was relieved to find Luke Farrell’s Plaza Khao Gaeng didn’t let her down
I’ve been meaning to get to Plaza Khao Gaeng since it opened, but I’ve been meaning to acquaint myself with Luke Farrell’s oeuvre for far longer.
I initially became aware of the now-Thai-restaurant-titan through Insta way back when his account chronicled of his incredible endeavours into growing SE Asian ingredients in Dorset.
When you’ve foodie-fangirled someone for so long you really, really hope you rate their gaff as highly as you want to. So was the case with Southern Thai-exploring Plaza KG. I won’t leave you in suspense: reader, I loved it.
I loved the way the (not actually)-too-bright lights evoke a roadside restau without burning your eyeballs out. I loved the way the kitchen kit you’d usually hide up becomes part of the decor & indeed the charm. I loved the way the menu is littered with esoteric ingredients you don’t see elsewhere & that said ingredients are U.K. grown. But most of all, yeahh, most of all…
I loved the actual food!
Salty, spicy, sour, sweet. Bang, bang, bang & indeed bang: textbook Thai taste balance in Every. Single. Damn. Dish.
If you dig Indian chaat you’ll be all over miang Phuket; in which betel leaves’ bitter-herbal bite give way to a tangle of flavours & textures that twist your tongue & rev your appetite.
If you’re familiar with high street Thai, you’ll be entirely unfamiliar with the curries here, which are less about creamy coconut & saccharine sweetness than they are fire-kissed FLAVOUR (worthy of CAPS cause it appears in abundance).
Speaking of fire, there will be one in your mouth for the majority of your meal. Learn to love the burn cause it’s all part of the experience: not least in the klua kling – a dry-fried spiced mince dish whose incendiary charms I first fell for via a recipe in Kay Plunkett Hogge’s ‘Baan’.
Muu Hong is a different beast: wobbly hunks of belly pork in a thin, sweet-savoury gravy you’ll be slurping straight from the bowl cause you’d be daft to waste a drop.
Clearly not one to rest on his laurels (or his betel, makrut or holy basil leaves), Luke’s already opened Plaza’s follow-up: the Bangkok Chinatown-inspired Speedboat Bar, just down the road in Soho.
Proceed at speed to either. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
MAKE IT HAPPEN