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Why everyone loves Thai.

ONE of my favourite ever holidays was spent in the south of Thailand a few years ago.

I revelled in the traditional cuisine and I am always eager to try to find restaurants that replicate those tastes and flavours.

With Love's Thai I've come as close as I think I can possibly get.

This popular city centre restaurant is celebrating its first birthday this August and last night hosted a traditional, authentic, Thai evening for guests and loyal customers.

I couldn't make it (I am now on holiday - sadly not Thailand again!) - so decided to head there last week to see what all the fuss is about.

First off, over to co-owner Ukrit Thaweerat, who explains where the name idea came from, and the passion behind the business: "I'm originally from South Thailand, but moved to England 10 years ago when I finished studying. I saw a gap in the market, and realised that there wasn't many other Thai restaurants around, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to test myself, and share my passion for cooking with the North East.

"My business and life partner, Sutima Chaybumrung, and I decided upon the name of the restaurant together. We love to cook, love Thai food, and love each other, and with that, Love's Thai was born."

Well, I certainly fell in love with the place too. Four of us got together for a good catch-up, but much of the talk was about the food and how "The good it was!

The decor is subtle, with artefacts brought over from Thailand. curry peanut, had It was certainly authentic cuisine too and for starters I had po-tak ta-lay (pounds 5.95), a clear spicy soup with a certain sourness packed with seafood, chili and galangal. It was everything you could wish for and had a terrific kick to it.

Fusspot went for his favourite chicken satay (pounds 5.95) - marinated chicken on skewers, grilled and served with a peanut sauce. It did the business too.

Dickie opted for the tempura (pounds 5.95) - deep-fried prawns, served in crispy breadcrumbs and served with plum sauce. Both this and the satay are the norm in Thai restaurants, but here both dishes were above average.

Jacqueline tried the pu-tord (pounds 6.55) - an Oriental seafood speciality with deep-fried whole soft-shell crab in a light batter and chili sauce. It did the rounds too, it tasted so good.

I've been for quite a few meals with Jacqueline in the past and she's a fussy and picky eater - so when she was presented with a huge piece of lamb shank for her main dish I did wonder how she would cope. Quite superbly, as it happens - and who could blame her. The dish in question was the gang massaman (pounds 13.95) - her choice of lamb shank in a rich curry sauce with coconut milk, peanut, potato and cashew nuts.

This had to be one of the finest dishes I had seen of its ilk, and again it did the rounds (OK, Jacqueline did have some help!) I enjoyed my pad ga prao (pounds 8.95) - stir-fried beef with onion, red pepper, green pepper, fresh chilli, garlic and basil.

Fresh chilli is correct ... and boy was it hot, and deliciously so.

The gang som (pounds 8.50), a southern hot and sour curry with pork and shrimp paste, green bean, bamboo shoot, aubergine and sweet potato, kept Dickie happy, while Fusspot devoured his gan kiew wan (pounds 7.95) - a lovely Thai green curry with coconut milk, bamboo shoot, green bean, aubergine and courgette.

Terrific meals all round, and we'll definitely be back as the menu also has so much more to offer which we didn't get the chance to try on this visit.

reviews: We had the usual accompaniments plus a selection of Thai desserts (all yummy) to end with.

o. uk Earsdon Love's Thai may have just been celebrating its first birthday, but it should also be celebrating the fact it has pulled off giving diners a traditional taste of Thailand here on Tyneside.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Aug 24, 2012
Words:686
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