First Published January 2011
Walking into Chaophraya is like entering a Thai Ikea, the room adorned with anything and everything that suggests Thailand, and all at a surprisingly low price. Like a cheap suit, it may have the most fashionable cut and stitching, but the end product lacks the quality to be convincing. Having navigated the numerous stone elephants, carved wooden objects and collection of serene jolly looking Buddhas we took our seats upstairs. It was this style over substance that set the tone for the remainder of the meal.
We started with some steamed pork, prawn and crabmeat dumplings, and spring rolls with duck and vegetables. These two dishes were the best of the night, and raised our hopes only for them to later plummeted to the depths by the desert menu. The dumplings were very nice, pleasantly soft textured and with a pleasing flavour. The spring rolls had a tasty filling with fresh crisp vegetables and soft duck although the pastry was a rather thick with a stodgy texture.
Our mains consisted of two different lamb curries, one the was the Gaeng Daeng and the other Gaeng Panang. You may be thinking that these sound very similar, and you’d be right, they are. In fact there wasn’t much different between them, both creamy with a hint of spice, but not really delivering the flavour a Thai curry should. The meat was dry and chewy, and seemed like it could have done with a few more hours slow cooking.
The desert menu offered nothing other than bought in dishes; the usual suspects were on display, cheesecake, chocolate fondant etc. We chose to share an ice cream deep-fried in batter. Unfortunately it wasn’t good, stodgy batter with an unpleasant flavour coating average quality coconut ice cream. Obviously this wasn’t bad enough, so it came accompanied with UHT spray cream on the side.
Chaophraya is not appealing the food is disappointing and over-priced. The starters showed a glimpse of what is possible. There are better Thai restaurants around: Chili Banana on Lark Lane and The Siam Garden on Smithdown Road are much better .