Busaba Eathai, Hanover Street, L1
Review by Hannah Fowler
Reminiscing about my travels to Asia, I had high hopes for the new Busaba Eathai restaurant. Don’t let its modern interior fool you, Busaba has kept its menu authentic and vibrant, and has you dreaming of life on a hot Thai island.
The eatery prides itself on its ‘casual dining’ mantra, and it’s a vibe you instantly get when entering. Tables are simply laid with paper place mats, chopsticks (a fork and spoon if you haven’t quite got the hang of them yet) and condiments to ‘pimp’ your meal – soy, hot chilli and fish sauce.
Although modern throughout, Busaba nods towards its traditional roots; rice is served in authentic ceramic dishes and the place mats give you titbits of cultural information. For example, did you know Bangkok is the longest named city in the world? (Its full name consists of 169 characters).
Arriving on a week day evening, the restaurant was already quite busy with a gentle hum of noise throughout the open plan space.
The menu gives you plenty of options, whether you prefer curries, rice, stir fries, noodles, small plates or Busaba’s take on ‘Modern Bangkok’ and selected specials. To start, we ordered a fresh lemonade and spiced apple juice along with prawn crackers and sweet chilli sauce (£2.50).
Next, I ordered the goong tohd (£6.95) – breaded king prawns with chilli lime sauce. The prawns were cooked perfectly and the sauce gave the dish that extra kick.
My dining partner chose the fish cakes (£6.25) with a cucumber and peanut relish. These were full of flavour and when paired with the relish, gave a good balance of sweet and sour.
For the main event, I decided on the jungle chicken curry (£10.25); with succulent grilled chicken, Thai aubergine, bamboo shoots and French beans, the different textures were well balanced and the sticky rice was a good accompaniment. With a three chilli rating be warned – this curry is spicy!
For a curry on the milder side, my partner’s dish would be the perfect choice. The mussaman duck (£11.95) with potato, peanut, star anise, cinnamon and onion gave a unique but delicious taste. The centrepiece of the dish was the duck – falling off the bone and mouth-wateringly tender, it was packed with rich, aromatic spices and was a particular highlight.
Wanting to try even more of the menu, we ordered a side of Thai roti (£2.50) and sweet potato fries (£3.60).
A popular fixture in Thai street food, the roti bread was moreish and ideal to dip into our curries.
The fries had just the right amount of spice to balance the sweetness and were cooked just how you want them – crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.
The food, alongside the friendly service, made for a great, relaxed evening and I could happily return and try more of the menu’s delights.
One of Busaba’s core principles is ‘Gan Gin Gan Yuu’, meaning ‘as you eat, so you are’. Similar to the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, it suggests you can be defined by your approach to food. Busaba Eathai stays true to this ethos, using fresh, authentic ingredients to bring flavours of the Far East to the North West.