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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Nipa Thai - A Taste of Siam in London's Hyde Park

Words & Photography by Matthew Brown and Luiz Hara

Name: Nipa Thai

Where: Nipa Thai, Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, London, W2 2TY,

Cost: From the a la carte menu, starters and soups are around £11-12, with salads and curries at £16-19. There are a number of special fish dishes - from scallops in a red chilli and coconut broth to crisp fried sea bass - though none costs more than £24. All desserts are £9. Nipa Thai also offers a number of set menus, from £35 per person for six shared dishes to £40 for eight, with a choice of Thai wine pairings at £20 per person.

About: Nipa Thai is one of a small number of Thai restaurants to have received the prestigious Thai Select award from the Thai government for the quality of its cooking. It also has 2 AA Rosettes, and is situated within the Thai-owned Lancaster Hotel with views over Hyde Park, making it popular with visiting Thai dignitaries. Head-chef Sanguan Parr brought her experience from the partner restaurant, Nipa, in Bangkok’s Landmark Hotel. 

What We Ate: To begin, we ordered the Ruam Mitr - a sharing selection comprising several starters, the highlight of which was the chicken satay in a sweet and velvety homemade sauce, complemented by Thai fish cakes which were fresh and zingy with lime and coriander.

The Kao Krieb Pak Moh was also good - steamed rice parcels containing chicken, shallot and plenty of peanut, glistening like multi-coloured oysters on the plate, and eaten inside a crunchy lettuce leaf.

Next came a soup course, of Tom Kha Kai and Kaeng Jued Tao Hoo, both well made. I particularly enjoyed the Tom Khai Kai, containing tender chicken in a succulent coconut broth, made refreshing by lime and lemongrass. It is easy to miss out a soup course when ordering Thai food, but these dishes are a reminder that this is a mistake.

They were followed by an array of main course dishes. Pla Rad Prig featured fried seabass with crispy skin and succulent white flesh, with coriander, onion and chilli.

The Yua Ma Muang Poo Nim, a salad of soft-shell crab and mango, was also hot, but not as successful. The crab had crunch, but was over-battered and lacked flavour, and the mango salad wasn’t substantial enough to sooth the heat.

The curry - Phad Kiew Warn Ta Law - was better. Mixed seafood (including some large fat scallops) was served in a green curry with Thai aubergine and basil.

These dishes were served with Sanguan’s Phad Thai, named after new head chef Sanguan Parr. Sweeter than usual and with plenty of lime, this was as good as anything I have eaten in Bangkok. I also enjoyed the aromatic Kao Kati - steamed rice with coconut milk and pandan leaves.

Desserts are rarely the most interesting aspect of Southeast Asian menus, and true to form, the desserts at Nipa Thai were in my opinion a bit of a let down. The banana pudding was bland, and served with the tiniest dash of caramel sauce.

The Piña Colada panacotta, whilst innovative, had the consistency of a mousse and lacked the richness of the “cooked cream” that gives panacotta its name.

What We Drank: The drinks menu features classic cocktails (£9), champagne cocktails (£12) and a range of European and Asian beers (all around £5.50 a pint). Most of the wines are below £40 a bottle, with a good number under £30. There’s also a selection of Thai wines - most of which are World Wine Award winners - for £29 a bottle, and available in 175ml or 250ml glasses. 

We opted for a bottle of the Thai Monsoon Valley Colombard, a World Wine Bronze Award-winning white. Although this grape originated in Southwest France, the wine shares the medium body and acidity of Sauvignon Blanc. It had notes of apple and grapefruit, making it a good partner to the spicy aromatic food. 

For dessert, we had a glass of another Thai Monsoon Valley wine, this time a Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, which was well made.

Likes: The restaurant’s setting is impressive, and there can be few better London dining rooms in which to eat Thai food. The Kao Krieb Pak Moh (chicken-filled rice dumplings) and Phad Kiew Warn Ta Law (seafood green curry) were exceptional. 

Dislikes: The desserts were unexciting, although the course was rescued by a very enjoyable Thai Chenin Blanc.

Verdict: Thai Cuisine is more diverse and complex than many restaurants do justice to. Nipa Thai’s soups and seafood dishes are well made, and the interior is eye-catching. With a number of good-value set menus, anyone looking to experience authentic Thai food should head to Nipa Thai. Recommended.


  1. I am Thai and am glad to say the Nipa is quite authentic. It covers the vast scope of Thai cooking tradition from North to South. One of the finest dining experiences London has to offer for Thai. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. The legendary London Thai restaurant! The superstar of fantastic Pad Thai! I'm heading back to this spot this next weekend. Thanks for reminding me!

  3. They look very good, all of them. Except the blue oysters. ;-) I bet they are delicious. I think I'll give this restaurant a try.

  4. I do love pad thai. Really really love the noodles. I think the only noodles I love more are fresh soba!


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