Published February 27, 2015
- What we think
- Fairly priced authentic Thai cuisine.
- Salty, sweet, spicy: Thai.
- Rugged interiors with your obligatory pictures of Thai political figures on the walls.
- Order at the register, food brought to table, otherwise self service.
- Price for 2 (no drinks)
- Price for 2 (no drinks): 4-5,000 ISK (a steal).
Krua Thai was one of those places that really saved the culinary landscape in Iceland at the turn of the century. From the early 90s there had been a growing number of new restaurants offering dishes from the Far East, but to be fair most of them simply served up Westernised “Chinese” food: fried shrimp, sticky pork in Hoi Sin-sauce or sweet and sour chicken… very generic, not really authentic. A few of those places still exist, but Krua Thai came in with a different flavour, and is still going strong, offering a menu of fairly priced authentic Thai cuisine. So strong in fact, that they are moving away from their signature spot by the harbour to a new “fancier” location on Skólavörðustígur in the next few weeks.
For anyone who lives or works on that side of town, in the old west side, “Grjótaþorpið,” as it were, Krua is the quintessential place to have lunch. The restaurant is open for business in the evenings, but it is without a doubt during lunch when the place is packed. It will surely be missed by the locals when it finally moves, as the special lunch offers are very fairly priced and provide the customer an overflow of sweet, salty, savoury dishes. Really, the huge plates are overflowing!
My companion and I, however, tried a different approach; we came during the evening for a proper meal ordered from the menu. We began our journey by ordering spring rolls (somewhat generic, I know) with sweet chili sauce (1,600 ISK). The rolls were crispy, wafer-thin and had a nice filling of crispy veg and chicken bits. The sauce, however, was most likely from a bottle, not the supermarket’s most popular Thai Choice, but still, a bit of a disappointment. For our main dishes my companion ordered up the signature dish, the Pad Thai (1,700 ISK), while I wanted to try something different and ordered Chicken Panang (1,700 ISK).
Pad Thai is of course one of the most interesting dishes on the planet. It’s recipe created by Luang Phibunsongkhram, Thailand’s most prominent political figure in the 20th century. Pad Thai’s purpose was to unify the country’s different ethnic groups in a single wok: it has components from Vietnam (pho), India (tamarind) and China (fish sauce). It is supposed to be sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, soft—basically a feast for the senses in every aspect. Krua really know how to make a good Pad Thai and my companion was very pleased. The Chicken Panang on the other hand was a bit bland and the coconut milk-based sauce was a bit lacking in depth of flavour. Not bad, but you would expect more.
As previously stated, the portions served at Krua are hefty. Food is literally falling off the plate. Dessert was therefore out of the question and, in fact, there is not really any dessert menu to speak of. Why should there be? Krua is a very honest place, its rugged interior makes everyone feel at home—a place where people of all classes can sit down for a fairly priced, honest, good meal. I hope Krua will be around for a long time. Just like any other pseudo-wannabe-metropolis, Reykjavík needs more Thai. We all do.