Tongue Thai'd and Speechless - Chaophraya, Glasgow

I booked Michael McIntyre tickets a year and a half ago, and it was surreal when last night finally arrived.  As I still owed my sister something for her birthday, I offered to take her to a restaurant of her choosing for a slap up meal and some drinks before the show.  One that she had been eyeing, and that a friend had asked me to review, was Chaophraya.

In all honesty, Chinese and Thai food isn't my forte.  I have ordered the same thing every Saturday from my local takeaway and have been blissfully happy with my ignorance.  Chaophraya is a whole other ball game, and worlds apart from the food you would order at an average Thai restaurant.

Located in Nelson Mandela Place, Chaophraya inhabits a beautiful big building in central Glasgow.  Inside is so elegant and grand, decorated with cultural kitsch that doesn't even come close to cheesy - classy, reserved and utterly amazing.

Chandelier in the foyer
Elephant sculptures on the landing

The restaurant is up a flight of stairs, in a room named 'The Ballroom':  A vacuous space gracefully filled with tables, booths, a bar and kitchen.  To really appreciate the beauty and grandeur of this place, I urge you to visit.  

Strawberry and lime mojito

Siam Smile cocktail

The waitresses that served us were always smiling, very genuine and graceful.  We ordered some drinks whilst we perused the menu: a strawberry and lime mojito for Sharon, and a 'Siam Smile' authentic Thai cocktail for me.  Both were refreshing, delicious and beautifully presented.

All I can truly say about the menu is - in true Lanarkshire Scottish - OAFT.  Each and every starter, salad and main sounded truly tantalising   My mouth was watering at the descriptions provided for each, and we spent a good twenty minutes reading through everything, ooh-ing and aah-ing all the way.  I am quite a strong, decisive eater, and this menu had me stumped.  There were so many weird and wonderful ingredients that I was desperate to try, and so many combinations of flavours and spices!

We bucked up our ideas, shut out menus, and gave the waitress a long awaited nod - the decision was made.  To start, we ordered the Ruammit Satay Fondue for two: chicken, pork, prawn, squid and fish cakes all served on bamboo skewers, with a peanut satay sauce.  For the main affair, Sharon opted for the spicy seafood udon noodles, and I went for the lamb shank in yellow curry, with a side order of egg fried rice.

Ruammit Satay Fondue
A closer look...

I have taken numerous photographs for each dish, as I was simply in awe at the smells, colours and presentation.  In the first photograph, at the top left, we have:

The Thai fish cakes.  Rolled into little balls, these consisted of spicy cod and coley, blended with green beans, lime leaves and red curry paste.  These were really soft and broke apart easily.  There was a slight hint of lemon in the mixture, and a very light and refreshing fish taste.  The heat of the spice was minimal, and really complimented the dash of lemon and the mellowness of the fish.  These were actually my favourite satay items from the selection.

To the right of the fish cakes, we have the chicken satay.  The tender and juicy chicken fell off the skewer, and was so unbelievably flavoursome.  When combined with the chunky satay sauce (which was heated by a tea light underneath - very cool) this was an amazing mix and it went down a treat.

Below the chicken skewers we have the pork satay.  Each strip fell away easily and the coating of sesame seeds and Thai oils were really complimentary.   The meat was glistening with juices and it was sensational. I am a huge fan of pork, and these lean skewers of meat were literally perfection.

Next are the butterfly prawns.  They were juicy, firm and perfectly bite-size   Again, the peanut satay sauce was a blessing for this and gave a hint of spice, which I enjoyed with the prawns.  Finally there was the squid, which was lovely too.  I don't really wave the flag for squid, as I find it quite chewy and tough.  Surprisingly, this squid, although firm, was not rubbery and I did enjoy it.

Lamb shank in yellow curry

Isn't it beautiful?

The description of my curry did say it was served in a tagine - me thinking it would be a small, individual, little-old-me tagine.  No.  This was a full blown Masterchef tagine, filled with the most immense aromas and tastes I have ever encountered.  The lamb was so tender it fell off the bone with one touch.  With the lamb there were baby potatoes, onion, garlic, grilled pumpkin, broccoli and lady fingers (Lady fingers being 'okra', a green vegetable, kind of like mangetout.  Nothing sinister, I promise!).  All of this was coated in a turmeric curry sauce blended with cashew nuts, and seasoned with shallots.  This has to be one of the best meals I have had, ever.  Each mouthful was so unbelievable - a nutty crunch from a cashew, a sweetness like butternut squash from the grilled pumpkin, a homeliness from the potatoes, a hint of heat from the turmeric sauce.  The lamb was so tender and aromatic, it was the perfect dish and I cannot find one single fault taste, smell or appearance wise.  I was rather full with the rice too (which was fluffy, light and amazing!) so if I were to order this again, I would skip the side.  Apart from that, I would recommend, encourage and set fireworks off under you to get you to try this dish!

Spicy seafood udon noodles

Seafood delight!

My sister is a big seafood fan, so this dish was ultimately made for her.  Scallops, mussels, prawns and squid were laced through spicy udon noodles, tossed with bean sprouts, chillies, mushrooms and basil.  This dish was rather spicy, and there were full chillies, with seeds intact, hidden within.  The prawns and scallops were lovely and firm, and really added some really bold flavours to the dish.  The mussels were still in their shells, so they must have been fresh!  Sharon's eyes were running by the end of her main, but she said that it was truly phenomenal.

I am not usually one for dessert, however Chaophraya had made me question everything.  We decided to, although I looked about 7 months pregnant, order from the sweet menu.

Fresh fruit fondue with chocolate sauce

My heart swells just looking at this again...

Simple, light and refreshing, I give you the fresh fruit fondue.  An easy concept, taken heads and shoulders above the rest in Chaophraya.  The strawberries were sweet and tangy, then combined with the richness of the chocolate...words fail.  The melon was ripe and soft, the juices were dripping down our chins as we preyed on the pineapple and the grapes were coated in icing sugar, making them that wee bit more lovely to eat.  Combined with a small glass of rose wine (and a Malibu for Sharon) this made for the perfect end to a heavenly meal.

To summarise: two cocktails, one sharing platter, two main courses, one sharing dessert, one glass of wine and one Malibu - £85.  I feel like this is excellent value for money, considering the location, calibre of food, the presentation, the quality of the drinks and also the service.  Our waitresses were so humble and lovely, they really were a treat to deal with.

If you are looking for somewhere that is beautiful, romantic, friendly, grand, elegant, amazing value for money and will leave you failing for words at the brilliance - get yourself booked in to visit Chaophraya, and thank me by taking me with you!

Contact Details:

The Town House
Nelson Mandela Place
G1 2LL

Tel: 0141 332 0041

Wheelchair access: No