Mark Bibby Jackson pops down to The Local to see whether it delivers on its promise to bring local Thai food from every region of the Thailand to the heart of Bangkok. Photos by Nick McGrath.
Coming from the UK, the Local comes across as a strange name for a Thai restaurant. Images of quaint pubs serving warm beer and stale sandwiches cross my mind as I head for the Thai restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 23 that is going to make me appreciate “real Thai cuisine made by … mothers of the kitchen” according to its literature. By nature I’m a cynic.
Still, first impressions are important. And here the Local does not disappoint. The structure is a hundred-year-old house painted in the blue, in which the Naj collection of fabrics and home décor is situated. Around this a terrace area allows al fresco dining, or for those who like their food hot on the inside rather than outside there are air-conditioned rooms at the rear. We opted for the terrace – my guest smokes.
We opted for the set appetiser (B250). With pairs of small dishes set around a Chiang Mai noodles curry soup, this is the perfect way to share the local cuisine with your partner. The lime and shallot wrapped in a Lotus leaf was too much of an acquired taste for me, apparently I am one who likes to admire lotus leaves from a distance. However, the chicken wrapped in Pandan leaf retained just enough moisture to maintain all the juicy flavour of the meat. The rice crackers added a crisp texture which contrasted well with the more fluid noodles soup.
This we followed with a lemongrass salad with wiId betal leaves (B200) and a homemade yellow curry with crab and wild betel leaves in fresh coconut milk (B380). The crab was simply spectacular. Soaking up all the yellow curry sauce, I could have carried on eating the crab all day.
Typical of the impeccable service throughout our waiter showed us how to wrap the lemongrass salad in the betal leaves, at the same time warning of the chilli that lay in the deep. It was a good companion to the crab dish, with the lemongrass shavings combining well with the more liquid texture of the curry. Served in a voluminous basket, the jasmine rice showed that the owners have left no detail unturned.
I shall leave it to more experienced judges of Thai cuisine to determine how genuine the Thai cuisine at The Local is, but one thing is for sure; those stale sandwiches down my local won’t seem the same again.