Suda Thai Cafe: where Thai is good for lunch

The West End is such a touristy place with all its high street shops, theatres and landmarks. Rarely do you find such space in the area where you can escape for a bit of boutique shopping, fun dining, or relaxing without the buzz of the city. This is why I like hanging out at St. Martin’s Courtyard. It’s an oasis in Covent Garden where you can do all of the above - in peace. They even have a wellness spa, a yoga centre and a salon!

One of the places we frequent here is Suda, a restaurant specialising in contemporary interpretations of regional Thai dishes. They also have a good beverage selection of Thai coffee/tea and Thai-inspired cocktails.

So far, friends I’ve brought here have been appreciative. Here’s my buddy A enjoying the view.
On rare occasions when the sun is out and the weather is cooperative, I ask for a table outside. It’s a pretty view of the courtyard: neighbouring restaurants offer al fresco dining as well and it’s nice to feel a bit of a buzz from such polite punters. Foot traffic here is slow and steady so you don’t feel like you’re in the West End at all.

My favourite thing to order here is the som tum malakor (£6.50) which is one of the best Thai salads I’ve had in town. The green papaya, carrot and string bean mix remains firm from the first forkful to the last bite and the zesty, tarty, spicy sauce is perfect. There’s a sprinkling of nuts and dried shrimp adding a bit of crunch.

The satay gai (£5.25) or chicken satay skewers is a typical starter. The colour is quite nice and the serving is pretty hefty. Two of these will do me. I do have a teensy qualm about the sauce, though: it’s a wee bit mild for my liking and I wish they added a bit of crushed nuts. Nothing brightens up a dish more than the texture of crushed nuts.

But that’s nothing a good set of chilli pots can’t cure, aye?

The yum woonsen pla salmon (£9.50) is another lunchtime favourite, especially when I’m on a health streak. It’s substantial enough but you don’t have that overly full feeling after. The salmon in this photo is clearly overcooked, but they usually get it right (you might just have to ask the servers to make sure they don’t overdo it). Served with glass noodles in possibly the same sauce they dress the som tum with.

Suda’s chicken massaman curry (£8.50) has ‘World’s most delicious food’ next to it on the menu. I’m not sure who rated this, as I’m sure I’ve had more delicious fare before, but it is actually quite good! The sauce is a good blend of sweet and sour and the chicken is moist and tender. There’s plenty of sauce and it goes without saying this dish is best served with a cup of coconut rice (£1.50).

If you don’t have time for a proper sit-down, the restaurant actually offers a decent lunch box: a choice of various curries (depending on the day/season) served with rice at £5.50.

We usually take work friends and clients here as it’s so close to the office. The place doesn’t look like your typical Thai restaurant inside: the decor is modern and chic (no Buddhas here!). The service, like everything in the courtyard and unlike other Thai places isn’t manic but polite. Oh, and the prices aren’t extortionate and the food is decent enough. Go.

Suda Thai Cafe Restaurant
St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9AB | 020 7240 8010
Ave spend pp: £25
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