Address: 23 Slingsby Place, Covent Garden, London
Price: Margaritas £7.50-£9.00 for main courses
*Exclusive Champagne Charlie Toilet Niceness Rating*: ****
At 7.30 on a Wednesday night, SUDA Thai was surprisingly busy – a mixture of young shoppers and slightly sweaty looking businessmen getting down to some serious ‘bantah’. The design is modern and quite minimal but is very well done, as SUDA feels relaxed and homely as well as having a bit of a buzz about it. There was even a little bush on our table, although I’m not sure what that was about on reflection… A useful ice-breaker I’m sure.
Overall, it’s a very relaxed, easy kind of a place. So relaxed in fact, that you might find it tricky to snare one of the slightly zoned out staff. I’d heard reports that the service was terrible, and I wouldn’t go that far. In fact our waiter ‘Adeel’ was very friendly and chatty, and also laughed politely when I requested a performance of ‘Rolling in the Deep’, rather than rightly smacking me in the face. However, I would say that if you’re looking for a Speedy Gonzalez style supper, then they’re a bit ‘far out man’.
If you are feeling ‘chilled’ and ‘groovy’ though, the food at SUDA is great. Fish and prawn ‘lollipops’ were hot and tasty, and a papaya salad was fiery, fresh and sweet. Their signature ‘rice wraps with braised duck and Thai herbs’ were a bit like chowing down on a clump of damp kitchen paper I thought, but then they were fairly traditional, so it’s probably unfair to blame poor SUDA for that.
Even if I wanted to I couldn’t, because the Spicy Tom Yum Prawn soup was AMAZING. In fact, when I was trying to decide on a rating for SUDA I couldn’t because all I kept thinking was “nooo, remember the soooup…”. It was hot, fragrant, rich but restorative, with lovely big chunks of lemongrass and huge, juicy butterflied prawns. It was addictive, and so good that I actually avoided going to wash my hands so I could unfairly eat it ALL. Now when I’m cold or tired Tom Yum soup is all I want, and having tried a number of poor imitations recently can confidently say that SUDA does it best.
Of course, the other courses could never compete with that. A roast duck red curry was full-flavoured and unctuous, but tempura prawns were much heavier than the Japanese alternative, as were the golden banana fritters for dessert. Time to put that fryer on Ebay perhaps…
Yet for the price SUDA is good quality, fresh, and well-cooked food, in a nice and convenient location. A Tom Yum soup at £4.50 is a recession-proof friend for sure. It is a shame however, that they seem to have lost sight of what they set out to do. Still marketed as a ‘Siamese Rice Bar’ they now serve just jasmine or brown rice, and though they used to have a menu with 30 plus small dishes, they’ve now removed the vast majority of them in favour of more common, Brit friendly favourites. Clearly the management are listening to the clientele so it’s fingers crossed for the future… more unusual, niche dishes (and lots more SOUP) makes SUDA one to watch…