Koh Thai Tapas, Bristol

I have long wanted to try Koh Thai Tapas, situated on Clifton’s Triangle and recently had the opportunity. As the name of the restaurant suggests, Thai tapas is its forte though it does offer some traditional meal sized dishes. Largely unfamiliar with Thai cuisine beyond Pad Thai and Thai Green/Red Curry, we were fortunate that the restaurant offers a ‘chosen for you’ service with two price levels. £22 a head and £26 a head, the latter unlocks several more dishes of a beef, duck or seafood variety.

Treating ourselves, we plumped for the £26 option. Alongside we tried their in-house beer. The best adjective to describe said beer is cold. The dishes arrived in two rounds.

The first round of dishes consisted of: crispy chilli beef, Thai fishcakes and 24-hour slow cooked ribs. The beef was far beyond any experience previous in other Asian restaurants and incomparable to the takeaways I’ve had which are characteristically soppy and sticky, and certainly lacking the crispy they so often purport to be. This beef was soft and tender with the crumb crunchy and delicately flavoured with hot chilli and pepper. Accompanied with a thick, sticky hoisin sauce which was viscous enough to surprise me it even left the ramekin but clung dearly to, and complimented the beef.

crispy chilli beef

Deliciously tender, Koh’s Crispy Chilli Beef.

The Thai fishcakes were well formed, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outer. Though I had hoped for a greater kick from the chilli, much of the flavour was fragrant and delicate rather than deep. The sweet chilli sauce alongside it was a little cloying if not overly sweetened and it overpowered the fishcakes.

Thai fishcakes

Thai fishcakes, fragrant and delicate.

The real champion of the first round though, were the 24-hour slow cooked ribs. A sweet barbeque sauce glazed the ribs which were difficult to lift as the meat fell from the bones effortlessly. The pork melted in the mouth, punctuated by a barbeque tang and the taste of honey, if not closer to a smoky caramel at the back of the throat upon devouring.

24-hour ribs

Look at them! Melt-in-your-mouth glorious 24-hour ribs.

The second course of dishes comprised of Duck Tamarind (not pictured as under a bale of fried rice noodles), Beef Panang- a coconut based curry and Pad Thai. The Pad Thai was prepared well, though I would’ve preferred more peanuts and for them to be scattered through the dish opposed to a dusty pile at the side of the plate, the tamarind in the sauce shone through in the sauce, with just enough of a lime punch.

Pad Thai

Delicious Pad Thai, accompanied with a peanut… soil?

The beef in the Panang was again, exceptionally tender. The sauce edging on luxurious with copious amounts of coconut milk and was mild enough to allow the vegetables, primarily peppers and green beans to contribute their efforts to the dish.

Beef Punang

Luxury curry, mild and creamy- Beef Panang.

It was the Duck Tamarind however, that ruled over all other plates in this meal. Near perfection in its texture and wonderful crisped skin whilst the meat was succulent and plum purple in the centre, oozing juices. Served on a bed of caramelised onions, slow cooked to such an extent they were almost gelatinous, sweetened with sugar and served alongside salted fried cabbage. It proved an excellent combination. The fried rice noodles, whilst abundant, only added a different and unnecessary texture and complication to the dish barring my way to the duck beneath.

I was impressed with the amount of food for two people, and we had some of the Pad Thai and Beef Panang boxed for home. The service was good. Not exceptional or poor, just good- all I’d ask for in a restaurant. Where I take issue though, is with the 12.5% service charge added to the bill. My friend, a heavy tipper insists we include it. Alone I would’ve challenged it. I’m happy to tip if a server was gone above and beyond or is incredible at dealing with a sea of tables. But I abhor service charges already added. I would rather present the server with a tip personally to at least ensure more if not all goes to them rather than some odd distribution mechanism.

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Koh Thai Tapas,

7-9 Triangle South,

Clifton,

Bristol,

BS8 1EY

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