busaba is one of many contemporary communal table eateries in london. it is the brainchild of yau who has bequeathed the culinary landscape with michelin starred hakkasan and yauatcha to wagamama. busaba realizes a tricky equation – of replication with originality (there are three branches and it is set to rollout a couple more) and quality at a reasonable price. of the three busaba’s around london each has its distinct personality and varying lengths of queues. i love the one in soho.
the interior is a combination of teak wood, warm light that rests just slightly about your head and woody fragrant incense. its menu is a comfortable length and experiences slight tweaks every so often – the only hiccup is that busaba’s pad thai is a tad disappointing. but then which eatery is flawless? for its lackluster pad thai busaba more than makes up with its other offerings. it’s curries in particular are mouthwateringly good. not as chili as most thai food i’ve had but it is an experience of flavors that come across in layers. you will find an assortment of lemon grass, smooth milky rich coconut, the tang of tamarind and the peppery note of red chili at the back of your throat. presentation is fuss free in glazed bowls – the wine menu isn’t extensive but it isn’t disappointing either. frankly thai chili is warm enough on its own and i usually forgo the wine for their honey and ginger tea.
i was recently introduced to the thai calamari – it is a generous bowlful of calamari with a light crust of batter; a smattering of green peppercorns and plenty of ginger and is usually polished within seconds of its arrival.
here are a couple of things you shouldn’t do at busaba
avoid the noodles aside from the pad kweito and try to steer clear of the tom yam talay as it is a disappointing affair with flavors that stand out like sore thumbs rather than blending together. and lastly, avoid the jungle curry unless you want a mouth burner chili experience.
and here is the stuff you should do
admit that pretty much all of us have been perplexed by the ying/yang indications on the toilet doors
definitely have the green curry’s as they have a lovely base
also have all things butternut squash
attempt the rose apple stir-fry. it’s got a curiously good taste that falls together with all else that goes into it – and when you close on the note of tea enjoy the crumbly softness of cashew and coconut cookies that accompany it – breathe in the woody incense and then brace yourself for capricious london weather outside.