Rosa’s Thai Cafe

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address: 36 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8JW

telephone: 020 3393 8562

http://rosasthaicafe.com/brixton/

This is the ninth in the chain of Rosa’s Thai restaurants and the first to venture south of the river. This was a brave move as Brixton already has two good Thai restaurants, see Yum-D and Kaosarn, as well as others such as Satay Bar serving up decent Thai dishes, so this new one has strong competition. It is on Atlantic Road with a wide view of the street and small tables for two or booths for up to six. Continue reading

Lunch at the Satay Bar

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447 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LP

Telephone: 0844 474 6080

http://www.sataybar.co.uk/

I’m the member of the eatinbrixton team that works and lives in Brixton. For nigh on 25 years I’ve broken up my working day, two or three times a week, by having lunch out in the town centre. Originally the decision was straightforward. The places I liked were the original pizza place pre-Franco Manca, Gyoza, or Ichiban Sushi and, in various guises, there was the Satay Bar.

Now, of course, we are almost overwhelmed with good choices. From the favourites, Gyoza has just closed; Ichiban opens rarely for lunch and, while Franco Manca goes from strength to strength, I now find the calorie count too high except for an occasional treat. But the Satay Bar is still there and, despite the competition, it has now definitely become my favourite lunch spot. The food is seriously good; it’s comfortable with reasonable Wi-Fi to keep up with work. It is also great value for money.

I’m just writing about lunch at the Satay Bar. Evenings when it becomes a serious nightspot are totally different. Not bad, just different – see our report on their cocktails here. There’s a special lunchtime menu with all the south-east Asian favourites – see it here. My top choice is the Laksa, a spicy coconut and noodle based soup, offering a large bowl of tangy broth containing the right amount of heat (two chilli symbol on the menu).sg06

I would happily have the laksa on each visit but I’m pleased to report that the Thai Beef Salad, (again two chillies) is also excellent. Another highly rated dish is the Chicken version of the Sambal Jawa, which is an Indonesian stir fry with coconut, coriander, lemon grass, vegetables, sambal ulek and other spices.sg07

My only disappointment is Big Belly Phad Thai that I found a bit claggy. Maybe I hit a bad day but there are other places in Brixton where Phad Thai addicts can  do better.sg10

So I can strongly recommend the Satay Bar as the top choice for a good value lunch. I tend to drink tap water so the bill comes in at less than £10 for a substantial meal. Another notable distinction is the clientele. At lunchtime, but even more at night, the majority of the other customers have been black. I have often seen comments pointing out how white the diners are in most of the eating places in Brixton Village but the opposite is the case here. There is nothing about the food that explains the sharp difference in clientele – except the fact that they are discerning about good quality food.

Kaosarn

KaosarnAddress: Granville Arcade (Brixton Village), Coldharbour Lane Brixton, London

Telephone: 020 7095 8922

This is a new Thai restaurant named after the bustling street in Bangkok and it has made a name for itself in Brixton Village with reviews by Jay Rayner in the  Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/01/jay-rayner-restaurant-review-kaosan) and Time Out (http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2:30398/kaosarn).  This is a tiny family run restaurant and with all this attention is full every evening and mostly during the day so book well in advance.  When we say tiny we really mean – only a few tables inside supplemented by five to seven outside. With autumn soon making it chilly these outside tables are likely to be difficult to fill unless they come with a blanket and hot water bottle.

The menu is short and cheap (about £15.00 per person for a full meal) with most main dishes costing less than £8. They serve all the usual Thai specialities – curries, salads and pastries filled with varieties of prawn or minced meat. There are not many vegetarian meals but the staff are willing to cook some up on request with tofu and vegetables. We used this restaurant before the Observer review. It is good but it isn’t great  – the Phad Thai was tasty with all the different flavours and with chunky prawns and a good blast of lime.  It is unlicensed so bring your own alcohol – remember this in advance as the options for buying it near to the restaurant are not that varied unless you just want beer. We would return there – if only we could get a table.

Under £20.00 for dinner and the portions are good so probably much less if you are not too greedy.

Ichiban Sushi

Address: 58a Atlantic Rd, Brixton, London, SW9 8PY

Telephone: 020 7738 7006

This small Japanese restaurant serves the best sushi in Brixton and rivals Kulu Kulu as our favourite Japanese restaurant in London .  The decor of wooden benches and tables are simple but do not accommodate  large groups. There is a rather odd green colour on the walls with, also odd, pictures of something japanesey which were a bit offputting. When it is heaving you really didn’t notice the decor but tonight as it was relatively empty it seems a bit on the bleak side.

The sushi though are fantastic, with a  wide variety of different types. We ventured into unknown territory this evening with the addition of vegetable tempura and gingery dipping sauce which made a change from the maki. The Phad Thai was one of the best I have eaten. Lots of different flavours with an edge of heat and lime and not too many noodles. It is definitely cheaper and much, much better than your average Yo Sushi. Most of the occasions we have visited have been in the evening when it has been heaving and we have to literally squeeze in, but tonight (Thursday) it was relatively quiet so perhaps Brixton Village is pulling away its custom. It also used to be open during the day but now only in the evening.

Ichiban sushi has been a family favourite and now we have extended our menu choices I think for us it will still be able to hold its own against Brixton Village down the road. I just hope others don’t desert this gem of old Brixton.