Luke Farrell’s Plaza Khao Gaeng Brings Southern Thai Flair to London

by | Aug 29, 2023 | EYE | 0 comments

Advertisements

One of those European towns with a rich and genuine food scene is London. It partially mitigates the unfavorable — and frequently unfair — reputation of English cuisine, allowing the British capital to maintain its status as a top-tier culinary destination.

The city is already crowded with Japanese eateries with menus that even the most seasoned global visitor would approve of and Chinese restaurants serving roast duck and dim sum that are just as outstanding.

Advertisements

Over the past ten years, traditional Thai food has only recently become more widely available. Dishes that were previously believed to be too difficult for these newcomers to serve

The in-your-face, behind-the-counter cooking experience at Kiln Soho, the roaster of regional dishes served at Som Saa in East London’s Spitalfields, and the modest but comforting noodle soups at The Great Thai right next to the British Broadcasting Corporation headquarters near Oxford Circus are already favorites among food critics.

Advertisements
The interior of Plaza Khao Gaeng COURTESY OF PLAZA KHAO GAENG

Two of the most recent entrants in the popularity of real Thai cuisine in London are Plaza Khao Gaeng on the mezzanine level of Arcade Center Point on top of the Tottenham Court Road tube station and Speedboat Bar in the more sedate area of Chinatown.

The restaurant Plaza Khao Gaeng, which translates to “curry over rice” in Thai, is known for serving traditional Southern Thai cuisine and was honored with a Michelin Bib Gourmand earlier this year. The previous location of Xu on Rupert Street, a well-liked Taiwanese fine dining concept launched by the owners of Bao, is now home to Speedboat Bar, which serves traditional foods from Bangkok’s Chinatown. Xu was replaced by Bao in 2009.

Advertisements

Luke Farrell founded both of them, and JKS Group, a restaurant chain headed by the Sethi siblings (Jyotin, Karam, and Sunaina), supported them both.

Advertisements
Khua Kling Gai, dry wok-fried chicken with chilis, a signature dish served at Plaza Khao Gaeng. COURTESY OF PLAZA KHAO GAENG

Two of the most recent entrants in the popularity of real Thai cuisine in London are Plaza Khao Gaeng on the mezzanine level of Arcade Centre Point on top of the Tottenham Court Road tube station and Speedboat Bar in the more sedate area of Chinatown.

Advertisements

The restaurant Plaza Khao Gaeng, which translates to “curry over rice” in Thai, is known for serving traditional Southern Thai cuisine and was honoured with a Michelin Bib Gourmand earlier this year. The previous location of Xu on Rupert Street, a well-liked Taiwanese fine dining concept launched by the owners of Bao, is now home to Speedboat Bar, which serves traditional foods from Bangkok’s Chinatown. Xu was replaced by Bao in 2009.

Luke Farrell founded both of them, and JKS Group, a restaurant chain headed by the Sethi siblings (Jyotin, Karam, and Sunaina), supported them both.

Advertisements
Khao Yam, puffed rice salad with fish sauce and vegetables, served at Plaza Khao Gaeng. COURTESY OF PLAZA KHAO GAENG

It is clear that Farrell is not a fan of fusion cuisine, a style of cooking that many Michelin-starred chefs like. Farrell used to spend a lot of time in Thailand and Malaysia eating his way and saving seeds of indigenous flora.

“Replication is essential, and in my opinion, serving Thai food and culture in its original form is far more respectful. Whether you would find that dish in Thailand is one of the most crucial things that the head chef and the teams are very well aware of. If the response is negative, that item is not served. Just like that,” he says.

Advertisements

“I don’t have patience for Western cooks who try to reinvent Thai cuisine. It would be rude of me to begin modifying and tampering with recipes that I learned from Thai cooks. The reason some chefs are changing things around is because it’s actually simpler to prepare Thai food that way. Of course, this is seen from a Western viewpoint. It’s simpler to obtain ingredients that are locally available than to fly them in from Thailand or even to produce them myself, he continues.

Farrell really spoke with OZIFOX while at the railway station. He had picked herbs for the restaurants while in the greenhouse in the morning. He also employed a chief gardener to oversee daily plant care, harvesting, and shipping.

Advertisements

He continues by saying that every plant is grown in a unique blend of jungle soil that seeks to closely resemble the soil found in tropical Thailand.

These components, especially the herbs, are considerably closer to the authentic taste of Thailand than many other ingredients that are flown in. On the lengthy travel, they lose their flavour and smell, claims Farrell.

Advertisements
Advertisements
Tom Yam Mama Noodles, a dish served that Speedboat Bar. COURTESY OF SPEEDBOAT BAR

The Speedboat Bar, on the other hand, is positioned as a late-night attraction with a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, a central bar, a pool table and Thai classics inspired by Chinese cuisine prepared in the manner one finds in the Chinatown neighbourhoods of Bangkok.

There are many well-known delicacies available, including drunkard’s seafood and beef noodles, minced beef with holy basil, and papaya salad with sweetcorn and salted egg. The restaurant also serves dishes that are less well-known outside of Thailand, like soy-cured pork with chilli and mint, as well as tom yam mama noodles with squid, prawns, and thick slices of crispy pork belly.

Advertisements

Luke thinks London is now the best place in Europe to eat Thai food due to the increase in authentic eateries serving the cuisine.

“I believe that unlike some other nations, we are not as fussy about our own cuisine. The food in the UK was pretty bad for a very long time, but now there is a culture of trying new things, and everyone is addicted to chilli,” he claims. “And bringing something from another country into another country is not as favoured if you go to areas like France, Italy, or Spain, where certain establishments have been for over 100 years with very strong culinary traditions.

Advertisements
Dishes served at Speedboat Bar COURTESY OF SPEEDBOAT BAR

Advertisements
The Tuck in French

The Tuck in French

Have you ever wondered what the heck the tuck in French is, and heard the term used? Also me! Until I at last finished watching Queer Eye on Netflix! France has been renowned for its sophisticated elegance and beautiful fashion for many years. When it comes to...

Related Articles

Related