The modern Thai restaurant Busaba Eathai is one of my favourite chains for a quick and easy, cheap and cheerful dinner. Launched back in 1999 by celebrated restaurateur Alan Yau (also behind Yauatcha, Hakkasan and Wagamama), there are now 16 locations in London, Liverpool, Manchester and St Albans. I recently went to the latest branch in Fitzrovia just around the corner from Oxford Circus for a casual midweek dinner with a pal.
The decor is typically cool: dark wood, large communal tables with gold and brass details brought to life with graphic art from two Bangkok street artists, Alex Face and Rukkit. Inspired by Bangkok cuisine, executive chef Jude Sangsida has created a menu featuring fresh salads, spicy stir fries and fragrant curries. We started with the crunchy prawn crackers, ordered a bottle of the Lanson Brut black label Champagne (it was the middle of the party season, after all) and tucked into a few sharing plates: Busaba's signature crispy calamari with zingy ginger and green peppercorn, lightly spiced fried chicken with a chilli lemongrass sauce and fishcakes with cucumber and peanut relish.
I always order the classic tom kha soup - I love Thai soups - with lemongrass chicken, glass noodles, coconut and galangal, and we shared the sizzling ginger beef with pepper, chilli and spring onion, and stir fried chilli king prawns.
Busaba Eathai Oxford Circus, 52-53 Eastcastle St, Fitzrovia W1W 8ED