The Real Deal - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Real Deal

The Real Deal

Published September 8, 2010

Take One: My charming date and I had spoons and forks on the brain and simultaneously declared “Aha! Let’s venture up Laugaveur to Ban Thai!” So that is what we did, uphill on the hottest day of the summer (or so it seemed), and were dying both of hunger and thirst upon arriving at the doors of Laugavegur 130. We alternated pushing and pulling on the large wooden door to no avail. Ban Thai opens for business at 18:00. We arrived for lunch at 12:42. Defeated, we called for a ride back home.
Take two: My charming date and I waltzed into Ban Thai at 18:08 on a Thursday evening and were warmly welcomed by an Icelandic hostess adorned in traditional Thai dress, complete with a vibrant silk sash. Being the only patrons to have arrived for the dinner service we had our pick of tables and settled in a cosy setting for two to enjoy the dramatic Thai pop ballads (somewhat distracting music that I came to love on a recent trip to Bangkok) and peruse the lengthy menu.
We ordered in bulk. Two glasses of the white house wine (900 ISK each) to drink and Poh Pia Tord (deep fried spring rolls – 990 ISK) for starters. My date settled on the Kaeng Mas-sa-man (1790 ISK), a Thai masaman curry with spring onion, coconut milk, potato and peanuts, while I gravitated toward the Muk Koong Prik (2190 ISK), spicy squid and king prawns with mint leaves, spring onion and chili in oyster sauce.
The house wine resembled a Gewürztraminer, which I’m not usually fond of, but I quite enjoyed the glasses I knocked back over the course of my meal. The spring rolls arrived and there were three on the plate. My date and I were two people. I don’t understand the distribution of foods in odd numbers. Luckily the spring rolls were crisp without being greasy or oily and the mélange of complementary flavours from the fillings and the sweet sauce provided for dipping were delicious.
When the main dishes arrived the first impression was overwhelmingly positive, as both were visually stunning – so colourful and nicely plated. Impressions remained positive as my date delved into her masaman curry, making sounds of great satisfaction and I followed suit… though satisfaction was soon followed by the chugging of cool water, as I discovered that the word “spicy” that preceded “squid” on the menu was no joke. Still, it wasn’t too spicy by any means; all the flavours of the cool, refreshing mint and the unique flavour of oyster sauce shone through. Delectable!
  While we happily went about eating our meals we couldn’t help but notice that whatever it was the next table over had ordered (it was sizzling and smoking) smelled so good we’d have to return another night. After 18:00
Ban Thai, Laugavegur 130 
What we think: Delicious, authentic Thai cuisine
Flavour: Layered, vibrant, spicy 
Ambiance:  Slightly dated, but the Thai pop ballads liven things up
Service: Friendly and professional
Rating: 5/5

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