If you’re after an authentic Thai dining experience, visit a branch of Busaba.
As soon as you walk through the door in the Bird Street branch, you’re greeted with a warm, thick aroma of green curry mixed with spices.
Solid oak tables and benches line the big restaurant space, and low lights dip in the centre of each.
There are coat hangers and racks dotted around, and chatter fills every corner of the restaurant.
It has a youthful, stylish atmosphere, but this wouldn’t be the ideal location if you were looking for a quiet, romantic meal.
The drinks menu is impressive, with a range of wines and juice concoctions. They even offer cherry soda, popped and fizzing fresh out of a glass bottle!
The food menu is relatively simple. It offers a great selection of meat dishes, but the vegetarian options are not so vast.
Portions are large and food arrives promptly after ordering. Presentation of the food is impressive too.
As a side dish, I’d definitely recommend the Pandan chicken (£5.30). You carefully unwrap the Pandan leaf to reveal succulent steaming pieces of tender chicken marinated in garlic, coriander and spices.
There is even a recipe for the Pandan chicken on the website. If you want to try it yourself click here!
For mains, the Jungle Curry (£8.40) is popular. It’s a spicy hotpot of grilled chicken pieces with vegetables, including aubergine, bamboo shoot and French beans. But be warned, this dish is spicy!
The Char-grilled chicken with spicy cucumber and sticky rice (£9.80) sounds appetising but what they don’t mention on the menu is that the chicken is left on the bone. This doesn’t go down too well with your stomach if you’re really hungry and have to spend ages de-boning the meat!
The green curry fried rice (£8.70) looks very appetising but is actually very bland.
What the restaurant is best known for is its calamari dishes.
In terms of pricing, an average meal is likely to cost between £15 and £20 per person.
The chain is very popular. Evenings are extremely busy in the Bird Street branch, even on weekdays.
Unfortunately they don’t do reservations so if you want to be seated within five minutes, be sure to arrive at the restaurant between 7 and 7.30pm, as thereafter the queue starts to build and extends out the door by about 8.30pm.
The staff are friendly but your dinner can feel a little rushed due to the need to seat the people forming the ever-extending queue.
We went on a Thursday evening, and the queue outside when we left just after 8pm was insane.
Each table in the restaurant seats around 8 people, sometimes more, and there is a chance that you will be seated beside people you don’t know as staff attempt to seat as many people as possible at a time.
In terms of appearance, Busaba is like an upmarket version of Wagamama in terms of appearance, and prices are slightly higher.
Overall though, this was a great Thai experience, in London.