Baan Thai have two restaurants in Dublin, this one in Leopardstown and the other is in Ballsbridge. The first restaurant opened in the 1990’s and was one of the first Thai restaurants I visited. The food has always been consistently good, and the décor and service is top notch.
Thai food has become increasingly popular in Ireland in recent years, and the result has been lots of Thai restaurants opening up. Some of them are good, but some do that annoying thing of re- engineering Thai food for the Irish palate, and just end up with a load of bland dishes that are indistinguishable from one another. In fairness Thai people do eat their food hotter than Irish people are used to, but there is a difference between toning down heat and losing the essence of a dish.
The menu is very long, there are over one hundred combinations, but a lot are just different sauces with different choices of meat or fish. There are some easy options like the combination starter which gives a taste of five or six dishes, and it a good option if you are new to Thai food. After that you will find all types of curries, stir fries and steamed fish cooked in a variety of styles.
We decided to stay with the more authentic end of the menu and choose two starters; a duck salad and Thai prawns cakes, while main courses were a Thai red curry with beef, , chicken with sweet basil, a classic Thai dish called Gai Gra Prow, and herbs and jumbo prawns and with spicy herbs. We weren’t drinking but a quick look at the wine list showed some thought had gone into it, with some decent choices that complement spicy food quite well, like the Gurwitztrameiner or Riesling
Our starters set a high bar, the duck salad was hot and spicy, cooled somewhat with crispy lettuce and the lime dressing was tangy and refreshing. The prawn cakes were like fish cakes, but mixed with red curry paste and spices and then deep fried. They came with a honey and peanut dip which worked very well.
Main courses came with rice and noodles and we had far too much between the two of us. The Chicken Gai Gra Prow was shredded chicken with basil leaves and stir fired with chilli, garlic onions and scallions. This is a Thai classic and Baan Thai’s didn’t disappoint. The red Thai curry was good, coconut flavours came through nicely, and the citrus flavours and heat of the chilli complemented the creaminess of the coconut. The king prawns were stir fried with spicy herbs and garlic, shallots, lime and Kranchai were really good, and the three dishes were shared and compared.
We couldn’t do dessert - even the special dessert tummy was saying no - but we did manage two good coffees and four rich homemade truffles to share, giving us our chocolate hit.
Baan Thai is one of the better Thai restaurants. If you have been Thai side and know the food, ask for the dish as authentic as they’d make it at home, and they are happy to oblige.