You don’t go to Paolina Thai Cafe for its good looks. Wedged on a busy King’s Cross road the front of the restaurant is grotty with a garish yellow sign and inside it is all tacky timber panelling and faded pictures of the Thai royal family. What they haven’t spent on decor though they have passed onto the customers in the food prices. This place is seriously cheap. Most of the dishes on the menu hover around the £4 mark which is incredibly good value for London. What’s more it is BYO as well which makes the whole experience of eating there even more affordable.
Provisioned with the most expensive bottle of wine at the nearby off licence (they were actually selling two bottles for £5 – which I studiously avoided) I squeezed into the small basement dining room with my friends Jo, Alice, Simon and Sully. Service was friendly, if brisk with our waitress asking for our orders almost as soon as we sat down. Spring rolls (£3.60) were crunchy, deep fried cigars filled with shredded vegetables. Fish cakes (£3.90) were small little brown nuggets that had been deep fried but still managed to maintain some moisture inside and were perked up by some accompanying heat seeking sauce.
Green curry (£4.50) was thick and rich displaying some of the complexitites of Thai cooking and fairly roared with spice. Pad phed talay (£5.50)was a plate of lightly stir fried seafood filled with lots of goodies like calamari and prawns sweetened with some Thai basil. The least successful dish was probably the chicken pad thai (£4.50) which was noodle heavy and chicken light. I imagine that cutting back on the protein part of the meal is the way that Paolina keeps its prices so low.
Pad phed talay
If you want your Thai cheap and cheerful and don’t mind to much about the scruffy surroundings then Paolina Thai cafe is the place for you. If you have travelled in Thailand the interior does bring back memories of lots of the restaurants there – all they need in addition were some plastic chairs and a few shrines. If you do go, keep in mind that payment is cash only which isn’t really a problem with the prices so low you could pay in coins.
Details: 181 Kings Cross Road, Kings Cross WC1X 9BZ (Ph 020 7278 8176) Tube: Kings Cross
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my ongoing search for good Thai in London detailed in this review of Market Thai and Thai Rice.