Last Wednesday we were invited to try out one of the latest venues to open in the Metro Centre. Oh, how the Yellow Quadrant has changed since my youth. The days of Metroland are long gone and the tiled hallways are decked full of restaurants and bars (who drinks at the Metty?!) alongside the largest and most overpriced cinema in the North East. As you can tell, I’m not the biggest fan of Europe’s largest shopping centre. I’d much rather stroll the streets of Newcastle than be locked up in that hell hole.
Anyway, cynicism aside. We headed along to the jewel of Gateshead for a slap up meal at Thaikhun, a thai ‘street food’ chain that first opened down south and has been travelling north ever since. I must say that the interior of this place is awesome. An outstanding amount of effort has been put into transforming the space into a thai street food market. The staff are all dressed as if they’ve recently returned from a ‘gap yah’ and they all bow when approaching your table, a bit odd at first but a nice touch of authenticity.
Since I was eating gluten free, I didn’t have high hopes for the food. Generally Chinese and Thai food is one of the hardest cuisines for me to eat, the prevalence of soy sauce in these recipes means that pretty much nothing is safe – expect the odd curry (or so I thought). I had a guava juice to drink and Craig went for a Singha, which is apparently a pretty good Thai beer.
The waitress seemed pretty confused about the ‘gluten free’ thing. I won’t damn them, it was clear the staff had only had a few days training and it was pretty chaotic in there so I did feel guilty being awkward. I was served the Papaya Salad to start, which I strongly suspected was the vegan option and not the gluten free. It was tasty but incredibly spicy. After speaking to the manager, we discovered that I had indeed been served the vegan option and my main course would be Chicken in Cashew Nuts (as opposed to tofu curry – gross). After a brief panic attack, the lovely manager informed me that the Papaya Salad was gluten free and I hadn’t been poisoned. So, it all worked out well in the end.
As for the Chicken in Cashew Nuts, it was pretty bland to be honest. Similar restaurants like Wagamama and Nudo have tamari, which is a gluten free soy sauce, for stirring into meals and adding flavour to gluten free meals. Instead, I just got a plate of vegetables, chicken and cashew nuts cooked in nothing. Meh. Craig, however, he got an incredible array of meals to try.
His favourite from the starters was definitely the fish cakes, they were fragrant and tasty with a kick. He wasn’t a fan of the squid, but that’s more a personal preference than a ‘knock on the squid’ (his words). As for the main course, he’s a recently converted seafood lover so the prawn pad thai was right up his street. The prawns were big chunky ones and the portion was absolutely huge. He also loved the thai green curry, which he’d never tried before, as it was super flavoursome and, again, another great portion-size.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t try the curry as this was the first time I’ve ever encountered a curry that wasn’t gluten free (lucky I didn’t eat the tofu one they offered me!) – not sure what ‘gluten’ it contained but the manager said it was listed as a allergen so I stayed clear.
All in all, I probably wouldn’t revisit Thaikhun until they sort out their gluten free offering. However, Craig is raring to get back and try the full menu (especially the tom yum soup) and the rest of the delicious menu. This is a highly recommended venue for anyone who is a fan of authentic Thai food – or just someone who’s keen to give a go for the first time.