Paolina Thai Cafe

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.
Fish cakes
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.
Spring rolls
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.

Paolina Snack Bar on Urbanspoon



  1. AH! Paolina! I spent many a lunch time here when I worked at Macmillan nearby. Royal Thai on Caledonian Road is quite nice too.

  2. Thank you….I gave up looking for a decent reasonably priced Thai in London a long time ago.

    Will defiantely check it out as I cannot wait for the next trip to Thailand or Oz.

  3. Bargain dining – a rarity in London as I recall. Sometimes you do find gems in dilapidated restaurants with cheap decor. And ha, I miss the convenience of the offie!

  4. The reason why Paolina’s staff came right up for your orders is probably because its regulars know exactly what to order. lol.

    You never run out of places to eat and cheap and cosy eateries like that completes the picture.

    Thanks! Will go look for this when I’m in the area.

  5. Niamh – yes a good cheap lunch spot if you worked nearby I would imagine

    Gregory – I am constantly on the lookout for it as well – hard to find!

    Helen – yes it is a rarity in London

    London Chow – that probably is the case I think it is the sort of place with a lot of regulars

  6. Great to know that there is this excellent cheap Thai not to far from me. I lived in Bangkok for a few months and do long for cheap, authentic Thai food. Cheers for the tip!

  7. Sounds like a lovely excursion. If the surroundings bother you, then take-aways are an option? lol

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