I was recently lucky enough to be invited to try the new menu at Chaophraya, Leeds. I’ve lived in Leeds for 4 years now, but have never been to Chaophraya as have always thought Thai food is not for me – even though each time I try it, I like it! I figured this was my chance to try something new and find the dishes I like. I’ve been missing out!
Decor & Setting
The first thing I noticed when I walked into Chaophraya (pronounced Chow-pry-a) was the grand decor. There were huge, beautiful ornaments carefully placed around the restaurant, wooden beams over the bar as well as a beautiful tropical fish tank.
The table was beautifully presented with fresh flowers and a candle. I knew from the beginning this was going to be a little nicer than your standard dinner out.
The menus were large with plenty of choice. They were also quite quirky and worked like fans so you could open up and fold each section rather than have a giant menu taking over the table.
Before our meal, we were offered cocktails and told all about the new ones on offer. They all sounded great, but I went for the Rubies and Diamonds while Ryan had the DIY cocktail. Mine was lovely, but the DIY was such a fun way to have your drink served and I was a bit jealous! You are given all of the ingredients in correct measures, and then make and shake the cocktail yourself. This is such a great idea and makes having drinks much more of an experience.
We also had a bottle of Savignon Blanc with dinner which was really lovely wine – we chose Wanderlust and I’d definitely recommend it.
While we were deciding on our meals, we were given a bowl of prawn crackers with dip. They were the tastiest prawn crackers I’ve ever had, not just the usual ones given out. I thought it was a nice touch and worth mentioning!
We often share starters which means it’s easier to try new things, which we definitely wanted to do. Squid is a favourite of ours, but neither of us have ever tried crab, so we went for the Soft Shell Crab & Squid Tempura (Poo Nim & Pla Muk Choop Pang Tord). We also got Pork Spare Ribs with Grilled Pineapple (See Krong Moo Yang).
Both starters were incredible! Big too, never a bad thing. The presentation was well thought out and the dishes looked amazing. The seafood was served on a real shell, and everything was laid carefully on the plates.
I was really surprised that I liked the crab at all, but it was so good. There was also asparagus tempura and a chilli and lime avocado dip. I’ve never had battered asparagus before, but it tasted great and the texture was really unique. I don’t like avocado that much (I know, shocking!), but I loved the dip and want to make it and have it with everything. It complemented the dish so well.
The barbecue sauce on the ribs was perfect, not too sweet or sticky, while the grilled pineapple sweetened up the dish a bit.
For the main meal, Ryan went for the traditional Thai Red Prawn Curry (Gaeng Ped Goong). It said king prawns, but these prawns were huge – and amazing! The curry was creamy and had just the right amount of spice. It was quite a basic choice, but certainly not a boring one. Unfortunately the rice that came with it was too obviously microwaved – it was quite clumped together and put us off a bit.
I had the Palm Sugar and Chilli Glazed Chicken (Gai Yang), which came with a salad. When it first arrived, I thought I had gone for a boring dish and was a bit jealous of the curry, but the chicken was perfectly grilled and the salad was incredible. The chicken could be a bit dry, but it worked well with the chilli and lime sauce in the salad.
The main meal was really unique and the presentation was brilliant again, with my dish being served in stackable bowls, so the salad was hidden underneath.
I was pretty full already, but how could I possibly review without trying a dessert.
Ryan doesn’t usually have much choice, if any, but thankfully sorbet was on the menu. It would be nice if dairy free people or vegans had more choice though. It was actually an interesting sorbet, prosecco flavoured, and was really nice. (I can’t remember exactly what was in it and it’s not on the currently menu online).
I chose the White Chocolate Box, which is white chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis on butter shortbread served with a mini macaroon and passion fruit syrup.
I was sure this would be too rich for me, but it was amazing! Everything worked so well toegther. The only problem is, which I have complained about in other restaurants, is the peanut side! Why?! I would usually avoid little crumbs on the plate knowingly, but as the dish had shortbread in, I figured it would be that crumbled. It ruined it a bit for me as I hate peanuts and the taste lingers, but otherwise it was a fab dish.
I thought the meal as a whole was lovely, but it was more than just the food in this place. The decor and atmosphere transports you and it becomes a cultural experience rather than just a meal out. Everything from the waiting staff outfits, to the decor and food, made it all seem much more authentic. It definitely didn’t have the chain restaurant feel to it, which I think a lot of chains are trying to break away from now.
All staff were extremely friendly and seemed really passionate about the place, and had further information on each drink and dish we tried.
We had a really great evening and I’d recommend Chaophraya for a special dinner. If anyone reading was involved in the evening, thank you for making it a great experience.
Disclaimer: We were invited to try the new menu, but all opinions are my own (and maybe a bit of Ryan’s!).