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Tastebuds a little tired..? Then try some Thai ...just like in Bangkok; ZAAP NEWCASTLE OLD CO-OP BUILDING 117 NEWGATE STREET NEWCASTLE TEL: 0191 230 1280 WWW.ZAAPTHAI.CO.UK BY SIMON DUKE RATING OUT OF 5.

BEFORE we all fill our boots with the packed menu of new restaurants opening in Newcastle's Eldon Square, I decided to pay a visit to the newest eatery in another hotspot for foodies.

The city's old Co-Op building welcomed Turtle Bay and Cabana this year and is now home to Zaap - all three restaurants are ironically right next to a gym!

Zaap prides itself on offering authentic Thai street food in a dining environment that transports customers to the bustling streets of Bangkok.

And with market stalls, tuktuks and even a bus part and parcel of the interior they've definitely delivered on that.

It's the third Zaap to open in the country and with restaurants in Leeds and Nottingham both picking up awards, there's a certain amount of pressure on the Tyneside successor.

TO START One thing I'll say from the off is you certainly won't be spoilt for choice if you choose to eat at Zaap.

Now I am by no means an expert when it comes to Thai street food, having still to tick Thailand off on my holiday to do list and not being a regular eater of Thai cuisine, but I became Mr Indecisive as I struggled to pick between a wide range of dishes to open my account.

Now typically if I see satay chicken on a menu my eyes need to look no further but I decided to let them wander to try something a bit different. With Zaap's promise of authentic Thai food ringing in my ears I eventually went for Thai sour pork sausage (PS5.95 for six pieces). Fortunately my friend went for the chicken (PS4.95 for three skewers) and was in the mood to share so I got the best of both worlds.

While the sausages didn't look or taste like your usual banger, accompanied by a chilli dipping sauce, they were an interesting and tasty starter.

And having also had a generous offering of satay chicken, I can report that was also spot on.

ONTO THE MAINS.... Now if you're one of those people who annoy their friends when you go out for meal by umming and aahing over what to order for longer than is probably acceptable, you might want to swot up on Zaap's menu online before you go as there are so many mains to choose from.

After browsing the various sections (and admittedly being very grateful for the translations!) I went for Pad Prik Yourk (chicken with vegetables, green and red pepper in black bean sauce) while across the table my friend opted for an old favourite - Gang Kew Yan- or to give it is popular name Thai green curry.

They might not have been the most experimental of choices but they certainly didn't disappoint. Arriving on plastic plates to maintain the street food vibe, both mains were eaten to much approval. The meat, veg and sauce of mine made a delicious combination; the only let down for me being the rice was slightly tough.

How people like their rice and pasta cooked is a melting (or rather boiling) pot of opinions and proving exactly that, my dining companion had no complaints with theirs and was also full of praise for their curry.

And given their perfect portion size, a price tag of PS8.50 each certainly represented good value.

The mix of mains is fantastic with an array of other rice dishes, grilled & roasted, noodles and soups available.

TO DRINK? Probably not a traditional Thai drink, but we were both pleasantly surprised to find prosecco on the menu so both promptly ordered a glass each before I sipped on a second and my friend went for a large glass of Pinot Grigio.

We decided the cocktails could wait for another time - and on the basis of the tempting menu I can't see that being too far in the future!

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT? Not really. Stepping into the restaurant on a busy Saturday night we certainly got the bustling streets of Bangkok ambience but were promptly shown to a table and there wasn't a long wait between courses.

Whilst very much on the ball, I felt the waiting staff could have been slightly friendlier but I'm sure if I'd been on my feet for hours and in the middle of a frantic shift I'd find it a struggle to maintain a broad smile! Zaap have certainly achieved their mission to bring a taste of Thailand to Newcastle with the fruits of their labour borne out in the absolutely amazing decor, open plan kitchen and the eclectic menu.

And while you might expect to paying over the odds for the pleasure, I think, like my friend and I, you'll be impressed by the price. I'd say a bill of PS47 for four drinks, two starters and two mains was more than acceptable, particularly for a Saturday night.

CAPTION(S):

Thai sour sausage

Satay Chicken

Zaap's Thai green curry Gang Kew Yan- that's Thai green curry, to you!

Pad Prik Yourk - chicken in black bean with peppers

ZAAP new Thai street restaurant in Newcastle
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Oct 5, 2016
Words:848
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