Janetira Eat Thai is a refreshing exception in the Soho dining scene. It doesn’t serve burgers, hot dogs or Southern fried chicken. It’s not a pop-up and no famous chef is involved. There are no queues (in fact it seems empty most of the time I walk past), it is inexpensive and totally unpretentious.
On top of all these favourable qualities, it serves some of the most authentic Thai food I have had in London. Mind you, Thai food in London is not exactly at a very high standard and, apart from Heron in Edgware Road, I have struggled to find authentic, cheap and tasty Thai food.
Janetira Eat Thai has been around for close to a year, but has just recently launched a new menu which is brave enough to possibly alienate the average consumer but to warm every foodies heart. I was surprised to see most of your generic Thai dishes lacking but to discover dishes I have never tasted (or even heard of) before. I visited twice – once with a Brit and the second time with a Thai foodie (who did the ordering at this occasion). The food was not faultless but definitely among the most interesting I have had in the past year. Without booze it’s below 20 pounds a head for a feast, that’s a rare find in Soho!
If I had to nominate my favourite, it would be the Khao Soi (Chicken Curry Noodle) (8.5). The creamy coconutty curry broth was bursting with flavour, the noodles were of good texture and the chicken was tender – enjoying it I could almost envision myself sitting at a little street stall somewhere in Chang Mai! Also very good was the Duck Noodle in Five-Spice Soup (8.5). The slightly sweet and powerful broth tasted of Christmas (at least that’s always my association when I taste clove, star anise and cinnamon) and worked beautifully with the duck.
I can take spicy. Very spicy in fact. But even I was almost defeated by the Mackerel Curry with Pickled Bamboo Shoots (9). It was possibly the spiciest thing I have ever eaten. I’m not sure I actually liked it, but I definitely enjoyed the endorphins that were floating my system. This very authentic Thai dish is made with a special fish sauce fermented from fish guts resulting in a very pungent taste. Try it if you dare! To counterbalance this powerful dish and soothe our burning mouth we ordered the Fish Ball Soup (5.5). It was rather insipid in comparison but comforting and the fish balls were of nice springy texture.
Another thing I had never eaten before were the Eggs in Tamarind Syrup (6) and unexpectedly I really enjoyed it. The sweet tamarind sauce was lovely with the slightly crispy eggs and the fried shallots. Also the Fried Chicken (5.5) was very tasty.
There were a few less successful dishes. The Thai Suki (8.5), a vegetarian dish made of fried tofu and vegetables with vermicelli noodles and served with a spicy sauce, was nothing I would order again, as it was plain and tasteless and reminded me of my unsuccessful tries to create similar dishes. A disaster was the Lamb Massaman Curry (9.95). The flavours of this mild curry were ok, but the lamb was not cooked for long enough and consequently holding on to the bone as if its life dependent on it. To say it was a challenge to eat this with only a spoon and fork would be an understatement and within seconds were covered in splatter of curry sauce (why oh why did I choose to wear white??).
I’m so happy that there finally is a good Thai restaurant in Central London!
- Food: 8/10
- Service: 7/10
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Value for Money: 9/10
- Verdict: I see myself returning many times for authentic cheap Thai!
28 Brewer Street
London W1F 0SR Tel: (020) 7434 3777