Silverburn makes me feel a bit queasy. It seems that, whatever time of day or night I visit, it’s always rammed solid, resulting in a crushing sense of claustrophobia despite its colossal size. This giant, shiny temple to consumerism sits imposingly in the footprint of what was once the Pollok Shopping Centre, Bellarmine secondary school and South Pollok playing fields. Whether a community is improved by flattening all of that and building an upscale shopping mall is a question for another post (by another writer). But there are definitely some upsides. The Wimpy of yore has been replaced by a who’s who of national restaurant chains. But in among the Nando’s and Frankie and Benny’s there are places like Thaikhun.
Thaikhun is part of the same company that brought Chaophraya to Glasgow’s Buchanan Street a few years ago. Operating throughout Scotland and the north of England, they can also justifiably be called a chain. But their origins make for compelling reading. Co-founder Kim Kaewkraikhot started with a Bangkok street cart in the early 90s before moving to Leeds in 1999. Today she co-owns 16 restaurants across the country employing over 500 people.
Unlike most restaurants at Silverburn, Thaikhun’s “outside” space is limited. Competing restaurants strain for attention, but over at Thaikhun you’re invited inside away from the intrusive gawp of passing shoppers. The interior is a carefully curated shambles of Thai-themed odds and ends. It overloads the senses and barely remains the right side of twee, but faced with the reverberant blandness of the mall outside I can let it slide.
Thaikhun’s menu is comprehensive and features pretty much any Thai staple you care to mention. Familiar, fragrant curries are present and correct, as are several phad thai variants along with fiery, coconut-infused soups. But when presented with a menu of Thai food I can’t see past som tam. I could eat this fresh and spicy salad of shredded green papaya by the wheelbarrow, but unfortunately i’m forced to share a small plate of it with my other half. To counteract the wholesomeness of the salad we also went for the sweetcorn fritters which were crunchy and moreish if a little oily.
Our main courses came from the “Pinto” menu. This allows you to select 3 dishes from a set menu which come served in little tiffin pots along with rice. My gut reaction to these sharing menus is that I’m somehow being deprived of food. But that lingering anxiety was quickly dispelled when 3 generous dishes appeared. We went for the green chicken curry, phad thai and chicken with cashew nuts.
The curry was rich and aromatic with plenty of tender chicken lurking in the depths while the chicken with cashews was zingy with that simultaneously soft and crispy chicken you’ll find in just about any Asian restaurant. A Thai restaurant should live and die on its phad thai and Thaikhun’s is a winner. The noodles had bite and the sauce had that familiar tamarind hum to it. Even with the two of us sharing it was a struggle to eat everything and the only chopstick duel was over the som tam.
Thaikhun’s food is fresh, vibrant and packed with flavour. It does all the familiar Thai things well and offers a few items you might not have tried elsewhere. The service is prompt and unfussy while the restaurant is cosy if off-puttingly eclectic. The only major fault I can find is that I need to go to Silverburn to eat here.
Great som tam