Thaikhun seems an appropriate name for a business on such a rise. Over the last five years this Thai street food joint has gone from strength to strength, from operating eight restaurants to twenty-two nationwide. Now, they've joined the Deliveroo Editions family, so we had a chat with Charlie – Special Projects Manager at Thaikhun – to hear more about the story behind the sumptuous street food taking the country by storm.
"It will come out as if you were ordering in a restaurant in Bangkok."
Charlie is full of excitement as he explains how the journey began. "The original concept for the restaurant was to have totally authentic, totally customisable food. If you want it extra spicy, you can have it extra spicy. If you prefer a milder sauce, you can have that too – and it will come out as if you were ordering in a restaurant in Bangkok."
It's a familiar story – it all began in Thailand, with founder Kim starting a successful street food joint. Word spread, taste buds were tantalised and their popularity grew and grew. It was time to bring the concept over to the UK – Thaikhun, as we know it, was born.
"Some of them have been here for 10 years. It's the best way to ensure that we have chefs with amazing skill."
So how do you transport the taste of Thailand to the UK? First, you need some bonafide Thai chefs, which the Thaikhun team found at source. "A lot of the the team has actually come here from Thailand – some of them have even been here for 10 years. It's the best way to ensure that we have chefs with amazing skill."
That amazing skill results in amazing flavour, a deftness of execution and a bit of a show as well. "I think it's one of the reasons people love coming to the restaurants actually – the activity. All of our restaurants are open kitchens. Their wok work is active, it's hypnotic –you really get the sense that you're watching a master at work. I love the sound of sauces hitting the wok. The wok burners are really fierce, it's like looking at a jet engine."
"Thaikhun are happy to go many, many extra miles to make sure that you get the best."
There's a great commitment to keeping the authentic techniques front and centre, no matter what. Thaikhun are are happy to go many, many extra miles to make sure that you get the best. "Lots of our ingredients come straight from Thailand. Every ingredient that it's possible for us to bring here, really. Things like Morning Glory, which is comparable to a leek, it's really important to get that from Thailand – it's very traditionally Thai, and you have to get the good stuff."
Fast forward to today, with the opening of the Editions delivery kitchen in Brighton, what would Charlie recommend to a first time customer? "It depends if they've had Thai food before, but I'd say Pad Thai is a great starter – it's a basic staple of Thai cuisine. When I had it for the first time, I really didn't know what to expect, but it was absolutely phenomenal."
"Take the Massaman curry, creamy, rich and really flavourful…"
If you're well acquainted with Thai food already, then take Charlie's personal recommendation – the Massman curry. Flavoured with cinnamon and star anise, and served up with onions, potatoes and cashew nuts, it's a great alternative to fiery curries. "Thai food may be famous for being hot, but there's a huge depth and range of flavours and spices within the cuisine. Massman curry is creamy, rich and really flavourful – it's amazing served up with some coconut rice."
If Pad Thai or curry doesn't quite hit the spot, there's a whole host of stir fries and noodle dishes on offer too. The stir fry selection even inspired Charlie to experiment with some new flavours in the kitchen. "I've been trying Thai cooking myself, so stir fries have become a staple in my house. It's just so quick and easy – but obviously I'm not nearly as good as the chefs from Thaikhun!"
"Get four or five dishes between six or seven people… and just dish it out!"
With the summer sun finally deciding to show up, it's just about the best time of year to get your hands on some Thai food. "Thai cuisine is all about sharing, you can get four or five dishes between six or seven people, sit down in the park or the garden and have a picnic – just dish it out! There are amazing salads – the weather is so hot and humid out there you need something to cut through the heat."
Charlie's recommendation there is the papaya salad. "It's shredded down, then it's pulverised in pestle and mortar with peanuts and lemongrass. A squeeze of fresh lime, fresh chilli, tomato and shrimp. It's simple, fragrant and delicious." So, whether British summer throws out some more scorchers, or you need something that tastes of sunshine to help you forget the rain outside – you have your answer.
Whether you're a total Thai novice, or you know your way around a wok yourself, Thaikhun has something authentically prepared that's just waiting to tickle your tastebuds. There may be almost 6,000 miles separating Thailand and the UK, but you can get a taste of the very best from Hove & Portlade!