101 Thai Kitchen

Success! I’ve ticked 101 Thai Kitchen off my wish list. The great thing about making easy New Year’s resolutions, like painting my toenails more often and going to the cheap and cheerful Thai restaurant that people keep on recommending to me, is that I can actually achieve them. It is only two weeks into the New Year yet my toes are looking twinkly and I managed to finally drag MTV boyfriend to 101 Thai Kitchen in Hammersmith. I doubt such instant success could have been achieved with a more hard core diet or detox resolution.
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Pad Thai
For a while now I have been searching for a cheap but good Thai restaurant in London. It has become a sort of holy grail for me, a mythical place which is rumoured to exist but I have never been able to find. Time and time again, from readers comments to recommendations on Chowhound, the word has been that 101 Thai Kitchen could be the answer.

The restaurant certainly looks the goods. Everything including the menus, the waiting staff’s clothes and the paint on the walls is a garish shade of pink. There is a shrine at the front, a picture of Thailand’s king on the back wall and a blackboard menu with specials written only in Thai. Even better the place is thronged with Thai people with only a few other farangs in sight.

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Spring rolls – a bit anaemic looking
The menu is extensive including sections for soups, snacks, stir fry dishes, soups, som tum and spicy salads. The food featured is from the Lao influenced Isaan cusine from the North of Thailand and Muslim dishes from the South. Despite the range of options I am convinced that the best dishes are probably listed on the indecipherable (to me) blackboard and so quizz our waitress about the specials and her recommendations which is not a particularly fruitful exercise.
We start with five tiny spring rolls (£4.50) they are pale and limp and could have done with a few more minutes in the deep fyer but are otherwise the filling is crunchy and fresh. The Pad Thai (£6.75) is also disappointing. The menu boasts the dish is made with the chef’s special tamarind sauce. Indeed, all the elements are there: the springy noodles, tender chicken, fluffy egg, spring onions and bean sprouts along with a sprinkling of roasted peanuts, but the noodles are sickly sweet and it seems as if not enough fish sauce and too much sugar has been used.

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Pad Takrai
The Pad Takrai (£6.95), which is a recommendation I eventually prised from our waitress, is a better option. Plump prawns are teamed with green beans and garlic have a fiery chilli heat soothed by the fragrant lemongrass which features in the dish.

The wine list is pretty limited so instead we opt for Singha beers (£2.85) and a Thai iced tea (£1.85) a dark tea mixed with condensed milk and then served chilled.

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Thai iced tea
Unfortunately 101 Thai Kitchen did not live up to my (admittedly high) expectations. Perhaps if we had ordered different dishes like the Sea Bass sour curry hot pot (£13.95) which everyone raves about I would have had a different experience. However I still don’t think there is an excuse for a Thai restaurant to churn out a bad version of a dish as simple as Pad Thai. It looks like my search for a good cheap and cheerful Thai restaurant in London continues. I have heard that the people behind Patara Thai are opening a more budget version of their restaurant this year so perhaps that will be the answer to my ongoing quest. Although I still think the trip to Hammersmith was not a complete waste, at least I got to tick one New Year’s resolution off.

Essentials
Details: 101 Thai Kitchen, 352 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 ORX (Ph 0208 746 6888) Tube: Stamford Brook
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Our bill came to £25 for two.
5/10

Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my reviews of some other budget friendly Thai restaurants in London: Thai Rice and Market Thai.

101 Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Posted by: on January 17th, 2011     19 Comments »

Category: Restaurants - Thai, W6
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19 Comments on “101 Thai Kitchen”

  1. Lizzie said at 10:54 am on January 17th, 2011:

    I can recommend Thailand in New Cross – really cheap and delicious food, also with Isaan specialities.

  2. Su-Lin said at 11:07 am on January 17th, 2011:

    Ahhh… you need to return! I have also had pad see ew at 101 Thai and have come to the conclusion that the noodle dishes there are weak. I suggest ordering a number of dishes + rice/sticky rice to make up the meal. A salad must be one of those dishes – they are fantastic!

  3. Mr Noodles said at 11:15 am on January 17th, 2011:

    What a shame! It looks like you came out badly from a game of ‘Menu Russian Roulette’ – but who’d thought that you’d take the bullet with pad Thai. I hate it when pad Thai is too sweet!

  4. Mr Noodles said at 11:22 am on January 17th, 2011:

    One more thing, to add to Su-Lin’s tips, you should order the Isarn sausages!

  5. Greedy Diva said at 12:37 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    Average springies and Pad Thai – if they can’t get those right, I fear there are going to be too many misses for me to bother making the trek. Like you, I’m always on the look out for a great, reasonably priced Thai place.

  6. The Skinny Bib said at 12:49 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    As a Thai who’s been to 101, I must say their strongest point lies in it’s northeastern Thai cooking, hence the name 101. Their regular Thai dishes are and will never be as good as, say, Pad Thai at Patara. With this “cheaper” and marginal eateries, I think it’s essential to know which dishes to go for. Have you tried places like Thai Taste or Addies in Gloucester Road and Earls Court yet? They are the haunts for Thai students abroad as opposed to 101 which is more visited by expats.

  7. An American in London said at 12:50 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    When I saw the title of your post, I was looking forward to hearing great things (bc I know 101 has been on your “list” forever). Given how relatively straightforward it is to make a pad Thai, I agree with you that it’s not a good sign if the resto can’t do that well.

    That said, good to know Su-Lin and Mr. Noodles’s tips. Still not sure I’d schlepp out to W6 for this, though. At this point, I settle for “decent and close by” (like Rosa’s in spitalfields, whose pad Thai has NOT used rice sticks the last time I ordered it, but whose spicy green curry hits the spot regularly for lunch).

  8. Three-Cookies said at 3:14 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    Sometimes using 101 in the name indicates beginner status, eg computing 101, cooking 101, thai kitchen 101…

    Perhaps they made their standards clear in the name:)

  9. Gregory said at 3:30 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    The white flag is up as after a decade in London I have given up on my search for a decent Thai meal in London. I simply do not understand why this is such a challenge.

    I would be over the moon if there was a restaurant that could serve a meal half as good as some of the Thai meals have enjoyed in Thailand and Oz (particulary Sydney).

    At least David Thompson’s books keep me going.

  10. Anonymous said at 6:14 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    tbh going to 101 and ordering pad thai + spring rolls is sort of like going to chilli cool + ordering sweet and sour pork… you can do it, but yr not going to get the best the restaurant has to offer

  11. London Lady said at 6:23 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    I find it interesting that on the same day you and Cheese and Biscuits posted about the same place and yet with entirely different outcomes and experiences. Love the blog!

  12. Mr Noodles said at 7:28 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    Anon – I don’t want to be a pedant but sweet & sour pork isn’t actually on the menu at Chilli Cool; there are very few concessions to non-Sichuan grub at the ‘Cool.

    Anyway to my main point. I like 101 Thai, and whilst spring rolls and pad Thai aren’t their signature dishes (or necessarily what I’d order myself), that’s not really an excuse for them to be below-par.

  13. Anonymous said at 9:52 pm on January 17th, 2011:

    if u ever ard marylebone, give two point on crawford street a go. it s v reasonably priced and solid thai food (well i ve never been to thailand, so take it for what it s worth obv). used to be a pub which makes for a nice atmosphere and eventho they do have off days (i go reasonably often as i live and work next door) i m generally happy with it. especially the pad thai s v gd (never to sweet)

  14. Gourmet Chick said at 9:42 pm on January 18th, 2011:

    Lizzie – Thanks tips always appreciated will put it on the list to try!

    Su-Lin – Interesting that the pad see ew was also not great. It was a shame to have a disappointing meal when I knew that both you and Mr Noodles had really enjoyed your meals there.

    Mr Noodles – I know nothing worse – it is what you expect from a pub that serves Thai food not an authentic looking little place like this. I should have just copied your order entirely for more success. Thanks for the defence re Chilli Cool as well!

    Greedy Diva – my hunt continues…

    The Skinny Bib – I take your point, although one of the three dishes I tried was a specialty of the restaurant, recommended by our waitress. I guess the problem is ordering only three dishes. Thanks for the other restaurant tips – very helpful.

    An American in London- I was so disappointed given I have been talking about going for about 3 years!

    Three Cookies – I was disappointed with my meal there. That said, other people have had better experiences.

    Gregory – Sounds like we are in the same boat

    Anon – I take your point but out of the three dishes I ordered one of them was a specialty of the restaurant recommended by the waitress. Perhaps the problem was only ordering three dishes and it would have been fairer to order more – but to be honest we were full after the three!

    London Lady – Quite a coincidence! We were not there together as you can probably tell from the reviews

    Anon – Thanks for the tip.

  15. Meaghan Luby said at 3:52 am on January 19th, 2011:

    honestly- i have always been afraid to try and make my own thai food. i love it but, i always just order out. this makes me ACTUALLY think i can try! thank you for posting. if i get brave enough, i will have to post you the results back :)

    -meg
    @http://clutzycooking.blogspot.com
    @http://myscribblednotebook.blogspot.com

  16. Sarah, Maison Cupcake said at 10:41 pm on January 20th, 2011:

    I miss having thai restaurant locally… I can’t think of any here in Walthamstow or South Woodford. Not eaten in enough of them to know whether it’s any good but Esarn Keaw on Uxbridge Road used to be our local haunt when I lived in Shepherds Bush. The service is a bit Fawlty Towers but we always enjoyed the food and it’s not expensive (well it wasn’t then).

  17. Francine said at 6:44 pm on August 24th, 2011:

    Try Chaopraya on St Christopher’s Place
    http://www.eatthai.net/london.html
    Will be in Bangkok next week – can’t wait!

  18. Anonymous said at 7:29 pm on March 2nd, 2012:

    Please if you are looking for a Authentic Thai Restaurant this is the place, just don’t order things that the Thai wont eat or order and I say this as my wife is thai and is an amazing cook and will not eat at most Thai restaurants due to the Western Taste that the chefs make all the dishes but 101 is the only place we will go and all her friends.

    Not being funny but why go to 101 and order PAD THAI!! there are so many proper thai things on the menu, try the ISAAN Sausage, the many fish dishes, the wonderful soups!!

    Spring rolls & Pad Thai did you have them with Ketchup!!

  19. Gourmet Chick said at 5:07 am on March 3rd, 2012:

    Meaghan – Good luck

    Sarah – Yes everyone needs a good local Thai place

    Francine – Very jealous – enjoy Bangkok

    Anon – I didn’t have it with sauce! Perhaps I should have ordered the isaan sausage or another dish rather than Pad Thai but I did also order the waiter’s recommendation of the Pad Takrai which was supposed to be a seafood specialty of the restaurant and was left disappointed. Good to hear your wife enjoys 101 Thai and I found it better than a lot of Thai restaurants in London but as I said in the review, my experience at 101 Kitchen was not great. I can only go on my own personal experience but appreciate you leaving a comment so others can see that 101 may be to their tastes.


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