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“Decent Thai food from a regularly changing menu” has earned solid ratings this year for this chain of communal Asian diners, which has seen improved feedback since the closure of its branches outside London last year. The group was founded 20 years ago by Alan Yau as the follow-up to his hit creation Wagamama, and has its strongest presence in the West End, where the branches are “a useful pre-theatre pitstop”.
For a “reliable cheap ’n’ cheerful meal, with attractive decor”, these Thai canteens still have a big fan club thanks to their well-styled communal interiors and “perhaps-not-wholly-authentic, but tasty” fare (“a good choice, from mild to pretty spicy”). Ratings were more than usually mixed this year, however, especially regarding “chaotic”, “disinterested” or even “awful” service.
“Original and unique decor” has always helped distinguish these communal canteens (who share the same founder as Wagamama). Critics feel its cooking has “really gone downhill” over the years, but most reporters still say its “westernised Thai food” provides “a good formula for a quick, cheap meal”.
What Alan Yau did next after Wagamama: these handsome, communal Thai canteens remain an “easy” and “reliable” cheap ’n’ cheerful choice. On the food front, “compromises over the years have resulted in less authenticity”, but they are “approachably priced”.