Many regard family run Restaurant Ban Thai as one of Reykjavík’s hidden treasures in terms of authentic Thai cooking. I have been a regular there for many years, and their meticulously prepared food and relaxing atmosphere have always lived well up to my standards (although the service can be a little haphazard at times, depending on how crowded they are). A personal favourite (especially when eating on a budget) is the perfectly spicy Tom Kha Kai soup, a single order of which provides more than enough food for two persons, especially when enjoyed with a Singha beer or two.
Ban Thai was completely empty the Monday evening a companion and I dined there for reviewing purposes. The mood was comfortable nonetheless, with mellow lighting and some pleasant Thai music blaring from the speakers. After browsing through the informative menu (among other things, it features a detailed account of Thai food, and how to enjoy it) we decided on some Poh Tia Tord (spring rolls) and Pla Mug Chup Pang Tord (deep fried squid) for starters. Our entrées were tasty and crunchy in their deep-fried pleasantness, and the sweet and sour dipping sauce that accompanied them complimented the taste nicely.
Outside was quite cold, it being January and all, so we opted for some of the hotter dishes for our main course. The Chicken Pad Khing’s ginger-laced infusion suited the flu-season finely. Although we agreed that it could have done with a bit more spice the taste of fresh ingredients shone through.
Our favourite by far was the Kaeng Mas-Sa-Man, pork in a typical South-Thailand Masman curry. There’s a lot to be said about properly spicy Thai food. Many Icelandic Thai restaurants tragically turn down the heat to accommodate the nation’s virgin taste-buds, not realising that those who long for mild food will simply… order mild food. While not scathingly hot, the pork dish still managed to sear our tongues while still allowing room for taste, something that makers of spicy food should always strive for in my opinion. The added nuts were a pleasant bonus.
Ban Thai has yet to fail me.