When I think of Thai food I imagine unique, fragrant dishes that can be both hearty and refreshing.
And that is exactly what I got when I visited Koh Thai Tapas in Southsea.
However, following a month spent travelling around Thailand a little while ago, I always think of those lovely dishes coming at a modest price.
That was not the case here. But I could have guessed that by the restaurant’s luxurious feel.
Situated on the corner of King’s Road and Flint Street, it is certainly imposing and stepping through its stone doors you are instantly treated to a stylish, welcoming interior.
It was definitely a far cry from what you’d find on the streets of Chiang Mai.
My friend and I were greeted by a friendly waitress as soon as we entered the restaurant and were led to the first floor, which I hadn’t realised existed.
The atmosphere upstairs was just as relaxed as on the ground floor and we were shown to a cosy table that overlooked the diners downstairs.
With quite a lot on offer, it took us a while to make our choices from the menu.
However, as a vegetarian I didn’t find there were as many options as I would usually get and I was further limited when the waitress admitted there was no tofu available at the time.
For fellow vegetarians it is also worth noting that their green and red curries are cooked in the traditional style, with fish sauce.
This led me to choose a vegetable yellow curry, which also happened to be vegan.
My friend and I opted to share a coconut rice (£3.50) on the waitress’s recommendation and I felt that the two perfectly complemented each other.
The curry, priced at £10.50 with a choice of vegetables or meat, was very well-sized. As a typically mild curry it packed a punch with its flavours, rather than spice.
The vegetables were surprisingly crunchy and held their flavour well, which isn’t always the case with Thai curries.
I felt there was enough rice in one portion for us to share and it was topped with flakes of coconut, which was a nice touch.
My friend tried a new addition to the menu, the ko tao tuna penang.
At £15.50 it was one of the more expensive curries but he seemed impressed from the first bite.
Served in a bowl with a meaty, deep sauce, it was accompanied by a selection of fresh vegetables.
He was most taken, though, by the tuna and said that the thick, pan-fried steak fell apart in the mouth and wasn’t overshadowed by the Thai flavours, being spicy, aromatic and slightly sweet all at once.
Admittedly we only ordered one of the tapas dishes, vegetable spring rolls, to have as a side. I had been hoping to try the fried tofu sticks but as we already knew, there was no tofu available.
We both enjoyed the spring rolls of which there were four in a portion. I couldn’t help but feel, though, that £5 was rather expensive for a small side dish that wasn’t particularly mind-blowing.
There was definitely plenty to try in terms of the tapas, it would be ideal for large groups who would want to try a bit of everything.
To accompany our meals we each had a pint of Singha beer which took me straight back to my days backpacking around Thailand. Although I never had to pay £5 for one.
And that was my main gripe with Koh Thai. Our bill came to more than £40 which I felt was somewhat overpriced.
But the flavours and atmosphere could definitely not be faulted.
Koh Thai Tapas, Kings Road, Southsea (023) 9282 4825
Ratings (out of five):