Nipa Thai is an upscale Thai restaurant located deep within the Lancaster London hotel and a few weeks ago myself and James were invited along to taste what they have to offer on their menu. The Lancaster hotel is a well-known, 4-star hotel located directly opposite the vast greenery of Hyde Park. It's just a ten-minute stroll away from Marble Arch and the endless shops of Oxford Street, which makes it an entirely convenient place to stay if you're exploring the offerings of West London.
At present, the hotel is undergoing refurbishment so the main entrance has moved just around the corner from the usual entrance. Initially Citymapper did lead us the to the original entrance, but it didn't take us too long to figure out where the temporary main lobby was. Despite being in the middle of a laborious refurbishment, the hotel lobby we were welcomed into was still spectacular and well kept.
The restaurant itself is tucked away on the first floor of the hotel, dimly lit whilst decorated with rich wooden panelling and adorned with Thai artefacts. Upon arrival the atmosphere was mellow and very serene with a soft scents lingering from the kitchen, which had my stomach rumbling as soon as we arrived. Despite being located within such a grand hotel, there was something about the restaurant itself that was rather intimate and peaceful. There was no manic running around from the staff or overbearing noise coming from the kitchen, it was just lovely.
One aspect of Nipa Thai that I found particularly kick ass is that their kitchen staff are entirely female including their head chef and they're one of the very few UK restaurants that has been awarded by the Thai government for the quality and authenticity of their food.
As always, we started with the wine menu and decided upon the recommended Thai white wine which was the Colombard Monsoon Valley (priced at £29 per bottle). It partnered the spicy, flavoursome food perfectly and was a great rescue remedy for when things started to heat up! Unfortunately, I did forget to take notes on the wine itself but I do remember that it was incredible... so much so that I've saved it to my Amazon wishlist for future reference.
Due to us being awkward vegetarians, the staff were very accommodating and offered to serve us up a selection of their veggie-friendly starters so we could taste them all! It included the Por Pia Tod (deep-fried spring rolls with glass noodles, cabbage & oriental mushrooms), the Tod Mun Kao Pod (sweetcorn fritters served with sweet chilli sauce & toasted peanuts), Tofu Tod (deep-fried bean curd with the sweet chilli sauce & toasted peanuts again) and vegetarian adaption of the Som Tam (green papaya salad with long beans, cherry tomatoes and peanuts in a sweet & sour chilli dressing). The Som Tam usually comes with dried prawns, but the kitchen staff were able to adapt the dish to suit our requirements.
For our main course, James and myself decided upon four dishes to share between us and they included the Kaeng Kiew Warn Pak Tao Hoo (bean curd and vegetables in a traditional green curry, Kao Kati (coconut rice), Phad Pak Ruam Mitr (stir-fried vegetables with bean curd/tofu) and the Phad Thai Pak (fried noodles with vegetables).
The green curry is often a 'go to' choice for me, as it's a dish I love so much that if I didn't order it I'd end up with a sense of regret. However, the aromatic offering from Nipa Thai was absolutely exceptional and hands down the most delicious one I've had to date. The soft tofu mixed combined with the slight crunch from the fresh vegetables doused in It worked perfectly with the cooling flavours of the coconut rice, which is in fact my standard pairing for a green curry. The delicious Phad Thai noodles were dusted with nuts, which added a welcoming crunchy texture to the dish. All of the vegetables used within the dishes were vibrant, fresh and cooked perfectly with that slight firmness that I can never seem to achieve at home!
After devouring the majority of our main course, it was time to have a look at the desert menu. Although we were both stuffed, we weren't about to leave without trying a sweet treat or two from Nipa Thai. It took James just a glance at the menu before deciding upon the Ice Tim Tod, which is a ball of deep-fried ice cream drizzled in chocolate sauce. Yep, you read that right: DEEP FRIED ICE CREAM! I, on the other hand, opted for the Maprao Delight, which is a white chocolate mousse infused with coconut flakes and lime served with a coconut sorbet. We were also given a small selection of sorbet to freshen our palate from the spicy courses we'd indulged in previously.
The deserts were the perfect sweet finish to a thoroughly enjoyable meal. The cold coconut sorbet teamed with the sweet mousse was utterly moreish, whilst the deep-fried ice cream was a little harder to digest after a heavy meal. However, I decided to take one for the team and not only finished my own desert but the majority of James' too!
We finished our meal with a coffee and a peppermint tea before we even attempted to stand up with our stomaches full and our cheeks rosy from the wine. As well as the outstanding Thai food we tasted that night, what truly made our experience was the hospitality of the staff.
Whilst they did know we were there to review the restaurant and they looked after us considerably well, it was obvious that their undivided attention was not only down to us being there to review the restaurant, as I observed them as they tended to everyone in the restaurant with beaming smiles. The waiters joyfully took photos of dining couples and gleefully suggested which wines to accompany each dish. The wonderful staff at Nipa Thai really were what made the experience all the more enjoyable.
This little gem of a restaurant is well worth seeking out if you ever find yourself in the West End of London and need a few hours of tranquility teamed with excellent food!
Location: Nipa Thai, Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London, W2 2TY
Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary meal for two in exchange for an honest review.