ql_own_nay-thai_tableHaving only dined and reviewed the nearby Naturally Chinese less than a week ago, it’s difficult not to make comparisons with Nay Thai. Both offer their own take on cuisine from South East Asia – and that’s the point. Aside from Thai and Chinese being related, but in reality just like I am “related” to my 4th cousin 3 times removed, sometimes comparisons between local eateries are neither deserved nor warranted.

Service and decor at Nay Thai.

This is a case in hand; Nay Thai is distinct from other eateries in Surbiton and should be considered as such. It’s a relatively small restaurant; in the order of 36 or so covers by my rough count (do practice breathing in if you want to go to the sole unisex toilet). So, Nay Thai is compact and bijou, with Thai decorations and wonderfully detailed place settings. Or rather, wonderfully detailed stuff under the glass top. That has always been a favourite feature of mine in restaurants of this cuisine. Service was welcoming, friendly and accommodating (despite what TripAdvisor might say). I would suggest booking on a Saturday night, we were barely squeezed in rocking up without a reservation at 1815!

The first sign that you are in for something half-decent is that there’s a steady takeaway trade being run from the restaurant too. The takeaway market in the area is diverse, vibrant and competitive, so this was heartening. Drinks order was taken promptly, but, disappointingly, there are no free prawn crackers. Regular readers will know the importance I place on nibbles with an aperitif. It’s a shame as it costs next to nothing and adds so much.

Food at Nay Thai.

The menu runs through all of the standard Thai dishes. Like the restaurant, it’s relatively compact and bijou compared to the tomes proffered in some places offering similar cuisine.  We opted for the set menu “Ayidhya” at £20 a head.

The first course was standard Thai appetiser fayre; decent prawn toast (cut in wide soldiers as opposed to triangles for once!), prawn dumplings, chicken satay and mini vegetable spring rolls. Firstly, the negative. I felt, in terms of portion, that Nay Thai was on the light side here. If the a la carte version is the same, at £7 a head, I think I would be disappointed. It needs a fifth offering in my opinion. However, taste wise, it was very good. The dumplings were crammed with prawns, the chicken satay had a dash of a coconut sauce over it and the spring rolls were competent.

The soup, I regret to say, I didn’t make a note of the name and it doesn’t appear to be one on the main menu. It was essentially a light broth, spiced, with a good dash of fish sauce for a salty complexion and some chicken in the base. I actually quite liked it, although I have to admit I am not sure why it needed a whole cherry tomato in it.

Main course was a competent, but in itself unremarkable, chicken in cashew nut sauce. The beef red curry at Nay Thai though is a very good example of this dish. Nay Thai has taken care not to over power it with spice so all the other flavours come through well. The vegetables in there with the beef were nicely crunchy too. Decent sticky rice and a very interesting stir fried mixed vegetables. A Foursquare comment suggests that people should try the salads at Nay Thai. I initially rejected that thought out of hand, but Nay Thai’s approach to vegetables generally may suggest that the salads are to be investigated further.

To be fair to Nay Thai, portion sizes with the main courses were more reasonable and in the round, the three courses are not bad value at £19 a head. Nor are the drinks; £3.50 for a bottle of Chang and the wine lists was adequately broad and not ridiculously priced either.

So the real question is, would I return first to Nay Thai or Naturally Chinese? Well, that depends. Both have their pluses and minuses. Both are unique in their own way and within Surbiton. It all depends what I have a hankering for on the day.

The Essentials
Restaurant NameNay Thay
VistedAugust 2014
Price Range£25-30 a head (Dinner)
Phone0208 399 9889
Address12 St James Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 4QH
Nay Thai
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