The fourth attempt in our quest for a curry restaurant took us in an unexpected culinary direction and brought us not to another of Oxford’s Indian restaurants, but to Bangkok House near the train station.
Having thus far not found our one true (curry) love in Oxford, we thought we would branch out and try a different type of curry. Given my recent obsession with coconut and my boyfriend’s love of spicy food, we thought Thai could be a good option.
I had never really thought much of Bangkok House. Walking past it from the station into town, it always looked dark and dreary from the outside, the tinted windows suggesting to me that they must be hiding something inside.
But what they were hiding wasn’t an interior matching the façade, but rather a light, welcoming and beautifully decorated space. I was amazed, and my only regret was that I had judged this book by its cover and not ventured there earlier during my time in Oxford.
We were greeted not only by the beautiful decor and aroma of Thai cuisine, but also by a friendly and helpful waiter who guided us to our seats. We mentioned that we might have friends joining us, but weren’t entirely sure; nevertheless, they ensured they would keep the table next to us free for them in case they turned up.
My only regret was that I had judged this book by its cover and not ventured there earlier during my time in Oxford.
In the meantime, we were hungry, and looking around at all the happy diners and their delectable dishes, we had started salivating. We opted for the £12.95 lunch set menu, which included a choice of starter, main course, tea or coffee, as well as mixed vegetables and jasmine rice. It was a cold and dreary day and, having just been walking around in the rain, we were keen to warm up with some green tea. We also opted for the hot and sour soup for the starter. Although the menu only provides the option of chicken soup, they were happy to provide the mushroom soup for me instead.
The soups were delicious, imbued with beautiful Thai flavours and plenty of coconut. They also weren’t too spicy, but were still hot enough to warm us up quickly from the cold.
For our main course we both opted for the red curry; I chose tofu while my boyfriend chose beef. It’s rare that we eat almost the same meal and enjoy it to the same extent. When it comes to curries, it’s either too mild for him or too hot for me. But this was perfect – there was enough spice to make the curry exciting while being mild enough not to blow my taste buds off.
There was enough spice to make the curry exciting while being mild enough not to blow my taste buds off.
Our friends arrived at the same time as our curries. Seeing the burst of red, smelling the delectable aromas, and seeing our happy faces as we dove into our meals, they also opted for the Thai red curry, one for the chicken option and the other for king prawn. When their curries arrived, they joined us in our culinary bliss.
We had ultimately gone to Bangkok House on a whim, despondent in our search for a “local” curry restaurant and wanting to try something a little outside the box. And we were glad we did. Although we only had the set menu, everything about the experience was a delight: the friendly staff, the beautiful décor, the welcoming ambience, the good price and, above all, the delicious food.
We’re still on the search for an Indian restaurant in Oxford that ticks all the above boxes. But, for now at least, we can safely say that we’ve found somewhere we’d happily return on a regular basis for a great curry experience.