Review: My Thai, Leeds

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Rather than stifling my feelings towards My Thai until making a grand reveal, I’m going to say right off the bat that I love it.  Claiming “OMG I could eat there every day and not get bored” could probably be dismissed as hyperbole, but after my first visit I actually did just that.  Fair enough it was technically only every day for three days, but that’s enough to make it a statement rather than a coincidence.

 
 
Popping up at the end of last year with little fanfare, My Thai’s marketing strategy relied on little more than word of mouth, good faith carried over from the reputation of its’ Bradford restaurant, and photographs of its folksy interior popping up on Instagram – which they did in abundance.  
 
They could have flipped the Thai-restaurant-decor coin and gone for a) Post Office ambience and laminated menus or b) “Exotic Palace” room in a themed hotel and been done with it, but instead they went for a unique look which dictates the atmosphere well.  Wooden panelling covers the walls, decorated with campy, vintage Thai cinema posters and strewn with fairy lights – on a hunch I reckon this is what a Full Moon Party beach-hut looks like, but I can’t say for sure – My attention span lasts no longer than 3 seconds whenever anybody begins sharing their “litchrally unreal” travel anecdotes.
 
The kitchen is tiny, and the menu reflects the restraints on space a handful each of starters, stir fry dishes, curries and rice bowls are available, as well a couple of specials – everything is billed as “Thai Street Food” and the flavours haven’t been sacrificed to appeal to farang tastes – on my first visit I liberally made it rain chilli powder on my prawn crackers, only to leave them at the end when I realised the heat was unbearable. The owner berated me for wasting the seasoning when she came to clear the table, and rightfully so – she told me afterwards that she grinds it herself by hand, and detailed the suffering that her eyes and sinuses endure in her doing so.
 
Lesson learned, don’t ruin any more dishes for myself.  There’s enough going on in My Thai’s food without having to supplement it with daft heat (incidentally if anybody wants to start a disco revival band, I think I’ve just come up with the perfect name) – familiar flavours pummel away at the tastebuds on the back of your tongue while the unexpected ones add sense of interest; implausibly light steamed dumplings give way to a salty chunk of spam in place of minced pork, star anise adds an anaesthetic quality to fragrant green curry but, unusually, doesn’t overpower the 5-spice roast pork which comes with perfectly sticky rice.
 
Satay skewers come complete with skin so crisp, caramelised and tense that you could be eating the wings of a bird engineered just for your eating convenience – The satisfying bite in the Tod Man Pla is enough to raise suspicion that there might actually be fish in them.  Tamarind Duck is a little greasy but manages to salvage some variety of texture with a good crunch of palm sugar, all while managing to not be cloyingly sweet.  The only downer I’ve encountered is Sweet & Sour, where the only thing setting it aside from your local takeaway’s version is an astringent taste of white vinegar – the Crispy Chilli Chicken is a much better version of the dish.
 
After she was done berating me for not being able to handle the chili powder that she routinely rubs into her tear ducts without flinching, the owner joked (I think) that she doesn’t care about cooking and just wants to make money – at less than £10 for two courses and a drink I’m not quite sure how she’s planning to do that, but I’ll happily do my bit to help.

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