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When you’re looking for Thai food in central London, you’d typically go to Soho or the Covent Garden area. Head just a little west of town, and next to Hyde Park you’ll spot The Lancaster hotel in which Nipa Thai is situated. Ask the concierge for directions, although Nipa isn’t far – just on flight up, on the first floor. As soon as you enter Nipa Thai, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the right place as the smell of essential Lemongrass oil gently permeates the restaurant.
This 55-seat venue provides beautiful views towards Hyde Park, and we were able to get one of tables by the window, meaning we got the best view. Although wherever you’re sat, you’re able to appreciate the lush green of Hyde Park, like an image framed with a teak panelled interior.
To start we chose the Satay Kai (£11), which is char-grilled marinated chicken served with peanut sauce and cucumber relish and the Koong Phan Takrai (£14), deep fried marinated minced prawns wrapped around lemongrass and served with plum sauce. We loved the prawn starter with every bite we got an aromatic hit of lemongrass.
To accompany our food, we tried a bottle of the Thai Wine, Colombard (£29). We’d not tried Thai Wine before, but as the saying goes ‘when in Rome’, or in this case ‘a Thai restaurant’. This wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc and had a light, fruity taste and we’d recommend trying if you enjoy this grape already.
For our mains, we opted for the Kaeng Massaman Kai (£16), which is chicken, onions and well-cooked baby potatoes in coconut milk and Massaman curry paste and the Koong Tod Kra Tiem Prig Tai (£22) i.e. stir fried prawns with pepper, coriander and crisp, fried garlic. The Massaman curry was flavourful, moreish (and not at all hot – think ‘Korma’ level of hotness), although we thought it was a bit too oily. The prawn dish was of gigantic proportions in both the size of the prawns and the flavour. It had a huge garlic hit and was perfect to eat with a side of coconut rice.
We managed to squeeze in a dessert (each priced at £9) and chose the Pina Colada, which was a coconut milk panna cotta with marinated pineapple, Carpacio and a tangy lime sauce and the Lemon, ginger and passion, a dessert combining a passion fruit-lemongrass baked custard with ginger short bread and a Valrhona chocolate sorbet. The Pina Colada was our favourite, and the lemongrass and passion fruit baked custard tasted authentic and well balanced. We like the chocolate sorbet, but we didn’t think the Valrhona, whilst a delicious high-end chocolate, was necessarily needed in a frozen dessert.
Overall we enjoyed the menu put together by head chef Sanguan Parr, and with every mouthful we could really taste authenticity and the effort that had gone into producing the dishes, it’s not often you can say that. We can understand why Nipa Thai received the “Thai Select” award from the Thai Government for its authentic cuisine. This accolade is presented to Thai restaurants proven to have achieved the highest standards of quality.
As well as the a la carte menu, Nipa has recently launched 2 new offerings in the form of its Thai Wine paired set menus and traditional Khantok pre-theatre lunch menu. If you want to try out Nipa Thai it’s located at: 1st Floor, Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY, call the reservations team on 020 7551 6039 or visit www.niparestaurant.co.uk.