If you were to ask me what my favourite cuisine is at any moment, the chances are I would answer with “Thai”. Having made the obligatory trip through the Asian country a number of years ago, there was a real draw to the street food that could be found on every corner. The curries, the spices and, of course, the abundance of magically made Pad Thai defined the trip for me. When I heard that Chang, arguably Thailand’s most famous beer, was hosting its Sensory Trails event on the 12thMay, I knew I had to be involved.
Inspired by the Thai philosophy of Lamiat, Chang Sensory Trails draws on the notion of shared experiences between both friends and strangers. Think of it as a gathering amongst food, art and culture; a multi-sensorial event which will see eight of London’s favourite Thai restaurants (including Tawana, Bang Bang Soho, Patara, 101 Thai Kitchen and LAO Café) compete for the best Thai dish in the city. Each restaurant will pit their head chef against the others, each tasked with creating a signature dish representing their own interpretation of Thai home cooking. Taking place across the three global cities of London, Los Angeles and Singapore, the annual event once again puts Thai food firmly on the map.
As part of the build-up, I headed to Bang Bang Soho (previously Jane Tira, but new owners and very different tasting dishes) to taste their interpretation of a Beef Rendang; one of the dishes to be presented at the Sensory Trails event. Traditionally an Indonesian dish, the Thai twist on this classic gave it real substance. Far from the drier meat you typically associate with Rendang, the ginger and lemongrass has been basted in more coconut milk to give it a rich, velvety texture. Paired with their homemade sticky rice, it should stand up very well against any competition on the day. Katie opted for the Pad Thai, self-appointed as the best in London, served with vermicelli noodles which worked incredibly well with the tamarind and sweeter spices. It could easily have been entered into the Sensory Trails too, it was that good!
We also couldn’t resist sampling the corn fritters and vegetable spring rolls, both homemade from scratch, which were the perfect starters. It was great to speak to the co-owner, Tim, and get more of an idea behind the inspiration for the cooking at Bang Bang Soho. The focus was on freshness, care and attention. Everything is made from scratch, and the family-run restaurant prides itself of creating it’s own pastes using recipes passed down from generation to generation. It gives every dish a unique identity and genuinely elevated the flavours to something above your usual Thai fare.
You can find out more about the Chang Sensory Trails event here, which will be hosted at the Last Days of Shoreditch on 12 May from midday-10pm. Entry to the general event is free, and Chang are giving away a number of VIP guest passes on their Facebook page and UK Twitter profiles that grant access to the exclusive Chef’s Table, where you can sample all eight signature dishes.