Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thai Aroy Dee, Leeds (revisited)

On Saturday I paid another visit to Thai Aroy Dee, this time with a couple of willing guinea pigs in tow (my parents) to give the Thai menu a good workout.

I'm happy to report that it's good, very good. We shared five different dishes, none of which disappointed. I'll be back again soon as there are whole host of pork and beef dishes that also merit further investigation (the folks don't eat red meat).

Here's what we ate. Some of the servings may look a little small or scruffily presented. That's because we'd already started eating them by the time the photos were taken, not because any of it was small or scruffily presented.

Shredded papaya salad (som tam) with grilled chicken was excellent. The salad crisp and fresh, yet searingly spicy and pungent with dried shrimp. The chicken was also spot on, tender with charred, smoky skin.

Chilli and basil stir-fry (pad ka prao) with seafood was probably the hottest thing on the table, though it was difficult to tell after the first few minutes. We were asked twice how spicy we wanted this, but I'm sure they still toned it down a little. No matter, as it was fantastic. Sweet, hot and fragrant with aniseed notes from the basil and the squid wasn't too chewy either.  Note to Sukhothai, stir-fries with basil and chilli in the title should use plenty of both. This is how it's done.

Minced chicken salad (laab gai) was served warm. Other versions I've had were cold, but warm or at the very least room temperature seems like a better idea. That little bit of heat really helps the flavours sing. I'm not sure exactly what the ingredients are, but I think it's fairly simple. Chicken, shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, a little chilli and absolutely loads of mint is pretty much it. The resulting salad is just amazingly vibrant and bright tasting. I really can't think of a better pick me up on a dark December night.

Herbal shrimp salad brought fat juicy prawns dressed primarily in lemongrass, chilli and coriander. Very simple but delicious nonetheless.

And finally, something a little more mellow to cool the spice. Thai style Hainanese chicken rice. This is a dish of poached chicken served with rice, chicken stock, sliced cucumber and various condiments. I've had the Chinese version before but never the Thai. Assuming it would be more or less the same I ordered it to provide contrast with all the spicy salads. Everything was as expected; soft, mild poached chicken and rice and an absolute belter of a chicken stock (not pictured) served scattered with spring onions and chillies (there's the Thai influence) in a little bowl on the side. There were two condiments, one a chilli sauce and one peanut.

A lovely meal, this is far and away the best Thai food I've eaten in Leeds. My only slight criticism is that I'm sure they still toned the spice down a little. It was hot, the endorphins were certainly flowing (I had a proper spice 'high') but not quite at the level I know the Thais tend to eat themselves. Other than that it was wonderful and I'm planning to return regularly.

The staff were also lovely. They seemed astounded at our request for the Thai menu but were more than happy to offer assistance. They may as well get used to it as I've e-mailed the translation to four people already. The prices are reasonable, we paid £45 in total for all of the food described, extra rice, jasmine tea all round and service.


Thai Aroy Dee
112 Vicar Lane


Thai Aroy Dee on Urbanspoon


Mr Noodles said...

This all looks rather good without wishing to sound like a patronising London-dweller (not a Londoner, though).

And some interesting observations on the slight toning down of flavours, which funnily enough is a subject that I'm going to explore in a future blog post.

Dave said...

You don't sound like a patronising London-dweller. In my three years in London I only had one memorable Thai meal (at 101 in Hammersmith), so I think the good stuff is hard to come by even down there. I've been very pleasantly surprised by this place, I never expected to find anywhere like it in Leeds which is generally a bit weak on SE Asian food.

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