Tawana

Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 3785
Address: 3 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UA
Cuisine Type: Thai
nearest tube station Bayswater (DISTRICT, CIRCLE), Queensway (CENTRAL)

This Thai makes a welcome alternative to the predominantly Chinese or Middle Eastern restaurants that line Queensway and stretch round to Westbourne Grove. Unassuming, both inside and out, it still manages to pull in the customers and always appears busy (though this could reflect the usual trick of seating everyone by the window).

The menu is quite lengthy and took us some time to peruse and then decide, a process further hindered by the waitress coming up to our table every few minutes to see if we were ready to order yet. We ended up taking her suggestion of the starter selection, with an order of tom yum soup on top. Combining four of the most popular starters, our medley included miniature spring rolls filled with glass noodles, tiny sweetcorn fritters, dinky prawns in mini pastry cups and deep-fried prawns in won ton pastry, all served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. While each was a tasty morsel, none captured the rich spiciness that is the essence of Thai food. Oh, and did I mention how small everything was? Tom yum soup was more satisfying, bursting with chilli and lemongrass, chunks of squid, prawn and a whole greenshell mussel lurking below the surface.

The meal improved with our main courses: duck red curry, chicken green curry, fish curry steamed with coconut juice in a banana leaf bowl, fried chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, and a stir fried seafood mix of prawns, mussels, squid, chillis and assorted vegetables. Fiery and fragrant flavours demonstrated confident and authentic cooking that certainly didn’t stint on ingredients – only on portion size.

For dessert, the likes of sticky rice with mango and steamed yam custard in a cute little (yep, they were diminutive too) banana leaf box are unusual and make a change from the typical ice cream / tinned tropical fruit in syrup options.

At the end of our lunch, we’d had a taster of the quality cooking the kitchen can deliver, but there just wasn’t enough of it. Even after a starter and main course each, with rice, and dessert to share, we were left feeling unsatisfied, and while the bill at £80 for five, excluding drinks and service, was hardly astronomical, neither did it seem good value when we all went in search of more food immediately afterwards.

– Tracy Yam, 8/2003

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