There used to be a saying that you could fit the world’s population onto the Isle of Wight. That was true once, but it isn’t any more. It’s academic anyway as no-one ain’t going nowhere, least of all the Island. COVID-19 has curtailed movement of most people, for the time being. Well, it should have. And so, because we live in Ryde, here is another review of a Ryde takeaway. If we can’t taste the original flavours of the far east by travelling to Thailand, let those tastes come to us, via Ryde Thai.
Having taken the mighty step from PO34 to PO33 some years ago, this family-run business has been a stalwart of Ryde’s Leisure Strip for years, quietly and efficiently feeding the populace with its own brand of authentic Bangkok nammet.
Like many restaurants, Ryde Thai is already established as a takeaway venue. And, like the locals that we are, we already know which are our favourite dishes on the menu.
Serving ourselves back at home, we nibbled our way through a stack of prawn crackers. Crisp and tasty, we considered why Asian main courses are so often preceded by some sort of crisps, whether prawn crackers or poppadoms. Maybe it’s the equivalent of a bread roll in an English restaurant. As we licked our fingers to dab up the last crumbs, we confirmed our view that the peppery, darker Thai prawn crackers have the edge over their blander, white Chinese cousins.
We ate our crackers with soup. Chicken coconut, with its bobbing and quartered closed cup mushrooms, slices of fragrant galangal, lemongrass and sprigs of fresh aromatic coriander really is delicious. The powerful chilli kick of the red hot and sour chicken soup was a contrast to the creamy white coconut version – both refreshing teasers for the pleasure to come.
Our mixed starters were the most generic of the four courses (if, like Kaiser Chiefs, you consider crisps to be a course). If the starters were The Beatles – get us with our topical references – spring rolls and samosas would be Ringo and George, making up the numbers. John is the chicken with peanut satay sauce: succulent and nutty. Paul is our favourite of the four, the sesame prawn toast, but gawd knows where this analogy was going. Imagine. It’s frankly incomprehensible, like the Fab Four themselves when they got mystical and chemically-enhanced. It’s possible that we have been staying in to save lives too damn long.
Prawn crackers £2.50
Hot and sour chicken soup £5.50
Chicken coconut soup £5.50
Chicken massaman curry £7.95
Drunken duck £9.95
Egg fried rice 2 @ £3
When ordering we had that conflict between choosing what we actually wanted to eat and selecting what might be the most visually appealing to illustrate this review. So we chose both. Cat’s chicken massaman curry was a creamy delight, spiced, by request, to her preference – that of someone so chilli-shy she considers too much black pepper to be overhot. The chicken was plentiful and the potatoes soft and yielding. The smooth sauce revealed a multiplicity of flavours; a slight tang, some sweetness, with that creamy note throughout. Egg fried rice soaked up the sauce and Cat greedily shovelled it in, delighted with her choice.
The signature dish at Ryde Thai is drunken duck, a stir-fry medley of fresh vegetables with slices of meaty duck breast, all marinated in a sweet, rich Thai whiskey sauce. As far as we know, this crowd-pleaser is unique to Ryde Thai and has been on the menu since they opened. It’s worth seeking out, because this is a great way to enjoy Asian duck – which can be disappointingly dry or tasteless in some restaurants, but not here. The juicy sauce and plentiful soft duck breast, enlivened with plenty of Thai basil and fresh chilli, is a real rich streetfood-style treat. If this was being sold in a palm-leaf container from some hipster truck in Shoreditch people would be fighting for it. As it is, you can go and get your drunken duck from Union Street any night you want, without a punch being thrown.
So, as always Ryde Thai delivers. Well, actually we collected our dinner. With authentic flavours and dishes made to order, this unassuming venue with its simple, fresh and satisfying food is well worth trying for your lockdown takeaway.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Authentic Thai food
- Fresh ingredients