Steph Siegle experiences a five-star evening at celeb favourite Thai Tho.
When you enter a restaurant that tennis royalty such as Andy Murray, the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova, as well as actual Thai royalty, have dined at, you know you can look forward to a first-class experience.
Staff welcome customers with the warmth and friendliness Thai people are renowned for, a characteristic that can be credited to the philosophy of Thai Tho’s owner, Nicky Santichatsak, of treating everyone the same way and in the gracious manner that she would wish to be treated.
Nicky first came to England from Thailand 30 years ago, to study for her Master’s Degree, when life events led her to cooking on a market stall at Merton Abbey Mills, come rain or shine, seven days a week – and the local love affair with her authentic Thai cuisine grew from there. She’s now the proud owner of six restaurants, with Thai Tho an enduring fixture on the Wimbledon Village restaurant scene.
It’s clear why stars from the world of tennis return here year after year; eye-catching Thai artwork – intricate teak carvings of Bangkok’s Floating Market and Buddha figurines – sit charmingly alongside tennis memorabilia and photographs. It’s a relaxed vibe that welcomes you, as well as the alluring scent of Thai spices that builds your anticipation for the menu.
The appetising range of Thai and Asian dishes available tempted me away from my go-to Thai favourite of Thai green curry. Starters of duck spring rolls with hoi sin sauce and dim sum proved to be a light way to enjoy fragrant flavours before the main course of prawn kung pao with hot chilli sauce and chicken Mad Sa Man curry, sticky rice and fried broccoli with garlic.
The grilled, marinated prawns were satisfyingly succulent while the chicken in the curry was melt-in-your-mouth good, its sauce one I would happily devour as a stand-alone soup. Matched with a Monsoon Valley Shiraz, from the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard in southern Thailand, this light and smooth red wine complemented the delicate flavours of Thai cuisine beautifully.
The dessert menu comprises Thai classics and British favourites so the wise decision was taken to order one from each of these elements. Nicky’s specially made brownie achieved the perfect ratio of chocolate gooeyness to the crunchiness of the nuts while the coconut ice cream rounded off a delicious meal with a freshness on the palate. We heard that next on Nicky’s list is a cookery book and a Thai cookery school, excellent news for restaurant-goers who want to recreate these flavours in their own kitchens.
The tennis stars may rock up here over Wimbledon fortnight but it’s local and neighbouring residents are the lucky ones who can come to Thai Tho all year round.
Thai Tho is located at 20 High Street, Wimbledon Village.
Visit www.thaitho.co.uk for more information on all the branches.