A Thai treasure joins Hayes’s excellent collection of restaurants

Not so very long ago, I wrote a glowing review of a restaurant called Tugra, which can be found in my old stomping ground of Hayes, Kent. I’m thrilled to say that, in addition to the fantastic Turkish, Indian and Italian restaurants on Station Approach, there is now a wonderful Thai restaurant.

Thara Thai opened in December and my lovely friend and long-term Hayes resident Marie B. visited last week for one of our periodic catch-ups and book swaps – and, of course, to try out the food.

For me, Thai food is all about the savoury elements and both Marie and I opted for a starter, followed by a main course. It was a good size menu, including soups, salads, prawns & seafood, meats, curries and noodle dishes, without being overwhelming. It didn’t take me long to decide on the Soft Shell Crab– a heady mix of crispy fried crab, garlic, black pepper and coriander.

For her part, Marie plumped for the Thai-style Scallops: pan-seared scallops starring the restaurant’s very own “secret recipe” Thai sauce.

Both dishes tasted divine, and looked exquisite. My soft shell crab was crisped just the right amount, without losing the juiciness of the flesh, and the seasoning was perfect. Marie’s scallops were as delicate and flavoursome as you would hope, that “secret” sauce elevating them to something special.

Pausing for a moment to take in our surroundings, it was easy to see why Thara Thai has become so popular so quickly (it was packed the night we were there). It’s a bright, airy space that has been tastefully decorated and furnished with comfortable seating. Excellent attention to detail is expressed through a beautiful selection of china and glassware – and I thought the house white wine very good. Most importantly, Thara Thai’s staff are knowledgeable about the menu – and made us feel incredibly welcome.

As for our mains, I don’t think that I’ve ever tasted prawns as large and succulent as the ones which arrived with my Tasty King Prawns with Tamarind. They were mouth-watering, as was their accompaniment of crispy garlic, dried chilli, red onion, cashew nuts and tamarind sauce – I was in seventh heaven as I devoured this feast, with my neighbours on both sides commenting on how good it looked.

Marie fared equally well with her Honey Duck with Orange. Served on a sizzling hot plate, this collaboration of duck breast with special honey-glazed sauce, cabbage, cashew nuts and crispy shallots proved a winner. Cue more envious looks from our neighbours.

Make no mistake, this was very good food indeed. The kind of food for which you’d return time & time again – as I most certainly will do. All this, and a bulging bag of hot-off-the-press books to take home; there could hardly have been a better way to begin the weekend.

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