This review was first published online at LDN Card. All words are my own.
Since first opening its doors back in 2000, Ekachai has built up a considerable following of fans of Thai, Malay and Cantonese cuisine. Introducing a dim sum bar to Harrods and one of the country’s first noodle bars to Birmingham’s Selfridges, the restaurant’s Hong Kong born owners, Thomas Tjong and Sidney Tsang, may not be strangers to success but their title as the UK authority on pan-Asian casual dining means their newly refurbished location on London’s Liverpool Street has more than a lot to live up to.
We visit their flagship branch on a Friday evening and take our seats on one of the rustic wooden benches. The restaurant’s been given a makeover that better reflects the authentic simplicity of its food and the whole atmosphere is noticeably relaxed. The service is friendly but to the point, our starters arriving promptly after ordering. Lightly battered soft shelled crabs (£6.50) were delicious in their simplicity and a salad of prawns and mango in spicy Thai dressing had a lightness that defied its moreish sweet and sour tang.
“Our aim has always been to recreate the food we enjoyed when we were growing up” say Thomas and Sidney, “As well as the classics, we would like to introduce more adventurous dishes through our seasonal specials”.
Their focus on quality ingredients freshly prepared to order is reassuring, and yet the speed in which the food is served makes Ekachai ideal for a quick after-work meal with friends. The Malaysian Kapitan curry (£8) was well balanced in flavour, the chicken tender and succulent but just shy of the spice and depth you’d expect from ‘the Captain of all curries’.
The Udang & Kangkung Goreng (£8.50) had more of a kick to it with fat juicy prawns and water spinach wok fried with chilli, garlic and a hint of shrimp paste. Served with mounds of perfectly cooked coconut and jasmine rice (£2.50), the portions were well-sized and attractively presented with paper menus and help-yourself chopsticks a nod to the Far East’s informal street food style of eating.
It’s honest, authentic and affordable – and I’ll certainly be going back again.
Ekachai, 9-10 Arcade Liverpool Street, City of London, EC2M 7PN