On April 28th, Sukhothai in Chapel Allerton celebrated its 20th birthday. There are a number of Thai restaurants in and around Leeds promising authentic cuisine and exceptional service but Sukhothai has lived up to its promise for two whole decades. Since its initial opening in 2002, Sukhothai has gone on to open an additional two venues – one in the city centre and one in Harrogate. Known for its delicious food, charming staff and beautifully decorated interiors, the independently-owned chain has won numerous industry awards and many accolades.
At the beginning of this month, I was invited over to see for myself exactly why Sukhothai has become one of Leeds’ biggest restaurant success stories. My husband and I headed over to Leeds via train on May 4th. We arrived at Leeds station shortly after 5:30 pm and paid just over £10 for a taxi to Chapel Allerton.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the manager who gave us a choice of tables at which to dine. We chose a spot by the front window and began perusing the rather extensive menu. Neither my husband nor myself can claim to be experts in Thai food. In our hometown, there is only one Thai restaurant and we are yet to visit it. We’ve tried the odd Thai curry and Pad Thai but nothing authentic. The menu at Sukhothai is pretty extensive but it quite clearly explains each dish, making it relatively easy for Thai food newbies such as ourselves to choose.
To mark their 20th birthday, Sukhothai has brought back some dishes from their original menu; one being a starter of Duck Spring Rolls which is precisely what my husband ordered. As usual, I opted for a seafood starter and chose Gung Ta Trai (King prawns in a crispy, fragrant lemongrass batter, served with a freshly made
sweet chilli sauce) to kick off my Thai cuisine experience. I can only assume that Mr Wilson-Barrett was very pleased with his starter because he polished it off before I had the chance to ask for a taste.
I, on the other hand, savoured every mouthful of my beautiful prawns. Enormous crustaceans in a crispy coating served with a sweet chilli sauce for dipping. They’d clearly been deep-fried for the optimum length of time because the outside was perfectly crunchy and golden and the encased prawns were sweet and succulent. I’ve ordered breaded prawns and tempura prawns at many a restaurant and none have even come close to these, neither in taste nor in size! We have an 8-year-old son who has recently developed a love for them and he would have been overjoyed had he been dining with us that evening.
We both ordered cocktails to drink with our first courses and there were many to choose from. After much deliberation, my husband chose the Blushing Dragon which was a long, fruity number. If it’s on the menu, I will almost always go for a traditional Margherita and was delighted to discover that Sukhothai offered a few different versions. The Passion and Ginger Margherita I ordered was perfectly balanced and paired beautifully with my prawn starter.
I have read numerous customer reviews for Sukhothai in Chapel Allerton and the negative ones seem to be few and far between. Those who have shared a negative review, tend to have based them upon poor service so I was expecting lengthy waits between courses. This was not something we encountered at all. Both the manager and our waitress remained attentive throughout and the waits between courses and drinks were far from unreasonable. Granted, our second drinks order arrived after our main courses arrived, despite being ordered earlier, but we still didn’t have to wait particularly long.
For our main courses, we both opted for something mild on the spice scale. Weeping Tiger (8oz sirloin steak marinated in oyster sauce, served with a specially made secret spicy sauce) had been recommended to me by a close friend so I ordered that with a side of noodles. My husband absolutely adores pork belly and was thrilled to see a number of dishes including this. He went with Pad Ma Kham Moo Krob (Crispy pork belly in a sweet tamarind sauce) and a side of Egg Fried Rice.
As stated above, we didn’t have long to wait until our main courses arrived. My husband’s main course was promptly placed in front of him and it looked marvellous! Crispy chunks of marinated pork belly upon a bed of stir-fried Chinese leaf, spring greens and sweetheart cabbage. Pork belly can be difficult to get right and we’ve been disappointed by overcooked, inedible versions many times. Sukhothai got it spot on! The expected crunch of the skin was there and the rest of the meat remained moist and juicy. Delicious! The side of rice was vastly different to the fried rice we’ve had before. Fluffy, flavoursome and not at all greasy!
When my main course was served, Sukhothai’s secret sauce was generously poured over the steak, making it sizzle seductively and release the most glorious aromas. The generously sized sirloin steak was served upon a bed of stir-fried vegetables and topped with crispy onions. I was given a steak knife but in all honestly, it was so tender I could have cut into it with a spoon!
My accompanying noodles with beansprouts and egg were a tad on the greasy side but not offensively so and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Keen to eat more of the steak than the side, I limited how much of the noodles I gave myself but they were deceptively filling and I couldn’t finish either plate. Thank goodness my husband was there to save the day and ensure all plates were returned to the kitchen without a morsel of food upon them!
We are definitely keen to visit Sukhothai again and try a few more of their dishes, I think next time we’ll be a little more adventurous and opt for something with a bit more heat to it. I’m eager to try their delicious-sounding sharing platter starters but as my husband isn’t fond of seafood, it would have been pointless on this occasion.
We thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered and it all tasted remarkably fresh. Evidently, they have a very talented kitchen team but the quality of their ingredients is also a notable factor. Sukhothai fly many of their ingredients over from Thailand each week and you can’t get much more authentic than that!
Perhaps, we’ll head over on a Sunday for their Premium Thai Buffet which is making a comeback from 1st May. At £19.99 per person for unlimited portions of some of their most popular dishes, it sounds like excellent value for money.