Once we managed to walk to the top of the stairs at Chaophraya’s Castle Street location, we realised that we actually needed to go back down a flight and take the elevator to the restaurant, which gives the whole entrance a bit of drama. Not that the place needs any more visual drama; it is smart and the glass room where we were seated hovers over the street and gives an envy-inducing view of Edinburgh Castle.
They had nice menus laid out so we would know what was coming along, and we were seated at a long table in the glass room, where the acoustics are not great and we didn’t really get the chance to mix or hear the people at the other end of the table, but we were looking forward to the food.
The starters began to arrive: a few bits and bobs of skewers (chicken, veggies with prawns, pork, squid, and something else which didn’t visually interest me so I abstained from it). The peanut sauce that went with it was nice, but it was far from a fondue. The odd, dried, flaked fish and pomegranate was distinctively sweet from the honey and not to my taste, but I can see how it is popular with its mix of sweet and salty. The soup was a weird pop of heat, with lemongrass flavours and was ok, as were the uninspiring dumplings. Nothing was wrong with any of it, but none of it jumped out at me as something I’d want to order again.
Then came the mains. There was a spicy jungle fish curry, which the milder palates might call hot, but the saltiness of the fish really made it something I didn’t want to carry on eating. The pork belly dish tasted so similar to the spicing and sauce that the aubergine dish had, that the textural difference of the added pork oil was the best way to tell which was which.
The salad of duck was good. And the soft tofu dish was tasty, actually; it was my favourite dish of the evening-and had the best vegetables, but I must say that our resident vegetarian was not impressed with either the small amount of food that was offered to her (almost everything was meat based), and she indicated that the flavours of the tofu itself was something that didn’t inspire.
I stayed away from the desserts, though I must say that I learned that fried ice cream is something that not just the Mexican people do, and that pleases me.
I did want a cup of coffee, but the service was terribly sluggish (I believe they were short staffed at the last moment), and at almost 3.5 hours since I entered the restaurant, I had reached my sitting still limit and I needed to get moving, so we figured out how much we owed and made our exit.
Overall, there seemed to be a decent trade in the restaurant and everyone around us seemed pleased. I reckon that if I went back in a smaller party and ordered what I wanted from the menu instead of the taster, I’d be a happy customer as well. But to be honest, I’d probably just go around the corner to Time 4 Thai; I still dream of that salad, after all.
Chaophraya has been a “buzz” restaurant of late, having recently opened where Oloroso used to be. A small chain, based in half a dozen or so major UK cities, I’ve walked past their Glasgow branch on many an occasion, when striding towards the train back to Edinburgh.
We were fortunate enough to be joining a small party of diners, this evening, who had negotiated a rather attractive rate. For the princely sum of £15 we were able to sample a range of starters, main courses and desserts, served to us in a communal dining, banquet style.
We both arrived a little early, so grabbed a quick drink in their bar. The Yom lager was a rather drinkable brew. Little did I think that it would turn out to be one of the high-points of the evening.
To jump straight, with both feet, the food at Chaophraya was incredibly disappointing. Across all the dishes that we were served, the overwhelming impression was of bland, characterless food, that was very light on memorable flavour.
Our starter selection included tasteless dumplings with chewy casings, flaked cod and coley with pomegranate and honey that was very sweet, sweetcorn fritters that were totally forgettable, and soup that tasted of nothing beyond a strong chilli heat and hint of sourness.
The “appetiser fondue” platter was the strongest dish, but still had many flaws. This dish comprised a range of skewered meats and seafood, with a satay sauce. The meat and seafood items were totally under-seasoned and they combined with the sauce to mixed levels of success.
Main courses were similarly mediocre.
The duck salad was nondescript, the jungle curry failed to land a convincing punch, the pork belly was tough and flavourless, and the tofu completely bland.
The stir-fried aubergine was decent, but it lacked the advertised crispness.
I’m not one for dessert, but I did stick a spoon in most of them. They were an unusual mix, with some interesting ideas, but I’m not sure there was one dish that was a unified success.
So overall, Chaophraya was colossally underwhelming. It was one of the poorest restaurant experiences we’ve had across all of our quests. We were both left rather irked by the way that the food had negatively impacted on what otherwise had been an enjoyable evening with great company. If flavour-packed Thai food is what you are seeking, on the basis of what we were served this evening, I’d recommend that you go elsewhere. Time 4 Thai, Dusit, and Phuket Pavilion(to name but three) serve Thai dishes of incomparably better quality.
MJ scores Chaophraya
2/5 for food
2/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
2/5 for service
giving an overall 9/20
Today’s questers were: MJ, Blythe
We ate: appetiser fondue, steamed dumplings, fisherman’s soup, golden baskets, sweetcorn cakes, crispy duck salad, soft tofu, stir-fried aubergine, jungle fish curry, pork belly with holy basil, mango and sticky rice, bananas in sweet coconut milk, pancakes, deep-fried ice cream
We drank: sparkly water, Yom lager
We wore: moustache sweater, pink shirt
Total bill: £15 per head for the food, plus drinks, so c.£43 for the two of us