ROSA’S THAI CAFE – Seven Dials, London, January 2019

by Emma Bumpus on January 21, 2019


January takes Careertraveller on a sensory journey to the heart of South-east Asia where exotic cuisine and warm hospitality bring the Thai kitchen to London with ROSA’S THAI CAFE.

Post Christmas blues evaporate as we step into a smiley sociable galley, which decked with contemporary tables and sunny spotlights brings Thailand alive with decorative walls adorned with bamboo wallpaper.

Located in Seven Dials, Covent Garden’s ‘hidden shopping village’, we explore this converted three-storey Georgian townhouse whose listed staircase is a gateway to restaurant and private dining, perfect for intimate gatherings.

Opting for the more energetic cafe atmosphere downstairs we notice photos, which provide us with clues to Rosa’s roots and discover the name comes from an East End cafe named Rosa’s Cafe in London. Bought by Thai co-founder chef Saiphin in 2008, Rosa’s legacy lives on with a modern twist of Thai -British food that sings of seasonal ingredients, travel, hard work and sheer brilliance.

Lunch aka A-Harn Tieng is a five-flavour introduction to Thai food with a modern twist where knives are redundant at the table, all part of the Thai tradition where meat is chopped small before cooking. An opening signature Appe-Thai-Zing cocktail ignites the Careertraveller taste buds with a vibrant Ginger Collins that bursts of aromatic fresh cut lemongrass and root ginger. Not forgetting Thai mint, Tanqueray Gin and Asian botanical sour syrup, this refreshingly light and and summery aperitif makes way for a carnival of colour.

Starters bring happiness on a plate, which yellow in colour represent nobility and luck in Thai culture. Good fortune follows with Pork Skewers “Moo Ping”, which chargrilled in soy and honey marinade melt in the mouth. Garnished with herbs coriander and sliced chilli, both characteristic of Thai food is a supplementary homemade tamarind dipping sauce that adds the sweet and sour taste. We uncover two of the five primary flavours used in Thai cooking amongst others being salty, bitter and hot, which used in differing proportions produces a range of wonderfully colourful dishes.

Som Tam better known as Papaya Salad brings sunshine to the table as a Thai classic bursting with health and vitamins. Tasty, sharp and spicy is a mix of garlic, Thai fish sauce and lime juice on a bed of raw Thai papaya, fine beans, cashews, dried shrimp and tomatoes which calls for an authentic Thai beer in the name of Chang. Named after the word “elephant” in Thai, Thailand’s national animal, is a palatable bright golden brew that calls for a sample of Rosa’s Red Curry Paste Stir-Fry, whose homemade curry paste is an aromatic base for meaty moist prawns that complement fragrant steamed coconut rice. Red in colour, styles chilli as chief of the dish amongst a heavenly perfume of galangal, garlic and lemongrass herbs that typify Thai curry.

More Thai classics appear in the form of the well-known Pad Thai, which takes centre stage for presentation, colour and texture. Lime, coriander and crushed peanuts dress this good-looking stir-fry noodle dish whose mix of vegetables, firm tofu, scrambled egg and bean sprouts entertain a street food melange of deliciously sweet and savoury ingredients, not forgetting Careertraveller favourite, pungent tamarind. Fresh, wholesome and balanced, it is of no surprise to learn the rice noodles come from the Ratchaburi, province of Thailand, which make this foodie neighbourhood cafe special. Inspired with a copy of ROSA’S THAI CAFE Cookbook we skip the mango and sticky rice dessert and homemade lemongrass tea in return for learning the secrets of authentic Thai cookery!

As we leave this lively oasis of diverse gastronomy we feel blessed to have sampled some field to wok produce and generous hospitality, whose subtly gives customers ‘extra value’ with a culinary introduction to Thai culture. Just a stone’s throw away from Theatreland we inhale the buzzy excitement of London’s celebrated tourist zones Chinatown and Leicester Square and appreciate how food makes travel exceptional.

In the words of celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain: “Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your religion, your tribe, your grandma.”

Further information:

ROSA’S THAI CAFE

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