Restaurant review - Aroy-Dee Thai Restaurant: I ate a fiery Thai dish at a warm and welcoming Southsea eatery

You may not have heard of Aroy-Dee but perhaps Ning’s rings a bell. The Thai restaurant on Castle Road, Southsea reopened last September with a new name and new owners.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Nestled on a picturesque street, It’s a short walk away from Clarence Pier and a few doors down from the birthplace of Peter Sellers. Stepping in from a bitingly cold February evening, Aroy-Dee felt welcoming and warm. I was the only customer in the restaurant but this was unsurprising as I arrived at about 8.30pm on a Sunday evening. The first thing I developed a taste for was the powerful Thai guitar ballad playing as I browsed the menu, which I promptly Shazamed. I ordered Singha beer which, in my humble opinion, paired well with my Dim Sum Pork starter (£7.25). The rich, tender dumplings were served with two dipping sauces - one sweet chilli and another that registered as something like aniseed on my palette - and a side salad.

Everything in the restaurant was bathed in a golden-hour glow thanks to the dim lighting, portrait of a throned monarch looking down from the counter, and the golden bottle of beer. Even though I was dining alone, the mood was merry and I heard frequent laughter in the kitchen. A couple of delivery drivers stopped by to collect meals for those dining at home throughout my time there.

The decor of Aroy-Dee Thai Restaurant on Castle Road, SouthseaThe decor of Aroy-Dee Thai Restaurant on Castle Road, Southsea
The decor of Aroy-Dee Thai Restaurant on Castle Road, Southsea
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In large part because the name intrigued me, I opted for the Jungle Curry and chose prawn as my protein (£11.95) The waitress asked if I could handle spice and I confidently assured her that I could. My fate was sealed.

The overriding warmth I had felt in this gentle Thai restaurant quickly localised itself on my tongue. Politely checking on my dining experience, the waitress noted that my face was becoming rosy and asked if I was okay, or if it was in fact too spicy. Very considerate, but I felt I could hardly back down and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. But it was, a bit. I ordered another Singha.

The ‘famous’ Jungle Curry is a runny dish and when it arrived I wondered if it was supposed to be consumed like soup. I later found out that it is distinguished by a lack of coconut milk, which gives some other Thai dishes like red and green curries a creamier quality. I had unknowingly ordered a portion of coconut rice (£3.50) as a side and this provided some salvation as I pushed on and ate through stinging lips. It was superbly sweet and smooth, neutralising some of the curry’s power.

The Jungle Curry with coconut rice.The Jungle Curry with coconut rice.
The Jungle Curry with coconut rice.

When I had pulled myself together a bit, I began to enjoy the curry. The spice had notes like lemongrass and garlic which meant it was much more pleasant than just chewing on a chilli. I was able to finish the dish and despite my initial shock enjoyed the various flavours and textures in the fiery bowl. I am glad to have tried something new and I can’t say I wasn’t warned. I am sure that for those who regularly dabble at the higher end of the Scoville Scale, Aroy-Dee’s Jungle Curry would be child’s play. For me, it felt like an achievement and I would definitely to return to see what else the menu has to offer.

Aroy-Dee Thai Restaurant and Takeaway – 67 Castle Rd, Southsea, 02392 297156

Food: 4

Ambience: 5

Value: 3

Child-friendly: 4