Category: Bistro (££)
I was never very keen on the Thai restaurant chain Busaba Eathai. Several years ago, when the first Soho outpost had newly opened, I ate there a couple of times, and I never quite understood what made people queue in rain and cold for this in my opinion rather mediocre Thai food. Time passed and with it the memory faded.
When I recently walked down King’s Road with my mum, who was visiting from Austria, and we fancied some spicy and warming Asian soup, Busaba Eathai seemed a good option. (the only option actually, as King’s Road is not exactly a Mekka for South East Asian restaurants). Retrospectively I thoroughly regret that I took my poor mother to this horrible place. The food got substantially worse since my last visit and I think we may have fared better with EAT’s or Pret a Manger’s soup of the day…
We had two soups, the Tom Kha Chicken (6.9) and a Tom Yam Talay (6.9). The first impression was already a bad one – the soups were very small for a main course (and the price) and the liquid should have been doubled to provide a full meal. I don’t think the broth would cost Busaba Eathai too much, so I don’t understand their stinginess on the liquid.
The Tom Yam Talay was like nothing I ever had in Thailand. To start with it was not spicy at all, there were no herbs scattered on top (only a couple of leaves of the native Thai vegetable spinach, pretending to be a herb) and it was too sour and salty with not enough balance. I didn’t pick up any kaffir lime leaves either. Swimming in the soup were apart from vermicelli noodles, some dried up prawns and slivers of a remarkably tasteless fish cake.
While the Tom Yam was not great but edible, the Tom Kha Chicken was a disaster. The bland and overly coconutty and sweet broth contained roasted chicken covered in flaccid and fatty skin and rather disgusting thick glass noodles. Also here fresh herbs were lacking, which I think is a scandal considering that you get coriander and even Thai basil at the Waitrose down the road.
While I forced down some of my soup, I was dreaming of a big bowl of pho from Song Que, of some udon from Koya or even of ramen from Wagamama. Busaba Eathai, you are indeed worse than Wagamama, congratulations!
- Food: 3/10
- Service: 6/10
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Value for Money: 4/10
- Chances of Returning: 0%
- Verdict: really crap Thai food