Will the spice be right at Mommy Thai in York? MAXINE GORDON finds out

BOOKINGS at Mommy Thai should come with a health warning: certain dishes will set your mouth on fire.

Well not literally on fire, but leave your lips tingling like you've just had a snog with a fire eater.

The best tip is to be guided by the menu – and listen to the waiters. When they say go for a dish with one chilli or half a chilli, they say so for a reason.

As I found out on Saturday night when I managed to bag the last table in the tiny restaurant on King's Street for a very HOT date!

Thai food is my favourite. I love the collision of flavours: chilli, lemongrass, lime leaves and coconut are my recipe for culinary heaven. Then there is the layering of sweet and sour, both present together, and complementing each other in an intensely satisfying way.

I remember Mommy Thai in its previous guise as My Thai. It is clearly a popular restaurant. It was fully booked on Saturday evening and staff had to turn away lots of hopeful diners as well as cope with a roaring take-away trade.

It is possibly one of the smallest restaurants in York, with just ten tables. You sit almost cheek by jowl with other diners, but the atmosphere is surprisingly cosy and intimate. It is designed like a food shack – we had a tin roof above us – with wood panelling on the walls and pretty fairy lights, colourful bunting and film posters (Jaws in Thai!) all mounted artfully.

Beverages are chalked up on a pillar and include Thai beer (£3.50) as well as hot drinks (Senchan mango tea for £3) and iced Thai drinks including milk teas and coffees for £3. A range of cold sodas are available for £2.

We ordered a Thai beer each but as soon as we started eating requested tap water, which came in pretty pewter bowls.

Of the ten starter choices, we picked two: vegetable spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce (£4.45) and chicken satay with peanut sauce (£4.95). Other options included steamed pork dumplings, garlic and pepper spare ribs and two soups.

We shared the starters, and were impressed. The spring rolls had a good crunch to them and were light rather than heavy and not too oily and filled with shredded veg. The satay dish amounted to three thick skewers of chicken that were tender and meaty and very moreish when dipped into the spicy peanut dip.

I liked this dip so much I kept it to one side to eat with my main course, Som Tum (£9.95). This was under the "foodies" section of the menu, and was described as a salad with prawn and peanut. There was an instruction to ask for the spice level: one, two or three. On chatting to the waiter, I told him I liked it a bit spicy, but not too much, so we settled for a two.

My husband chose from the "rice plates" section, selecting the panang curry(£8.95), marked with two stars for spice. This included rice, but he wanted sticky rice instead, so had to pay an extra £2.50.

His meal arrived fairly swiftly – unlike mine. I signalled for him to start. The sticky rice came in an attractive woven basket and had to be scooped out in firm blobs and added to the bowl of curry, which was a light yellow colour. I stuck my fork into the dish for a taste and it was very nice – but more spicy than we were used to from other Thai restaurants.

We were going to need some more water.

After a short while, my salad appeared – with some sticky rice on the side too, which was included in the price.

It had three giant king prawns, that were wonderfully succulent, and I ate them straight away. They were just warm, offering a nice contrast with the cold salad made up from shredded cabbage and carrots with tomatoes and crunchy lettuce leaves as well as a scattering of peanuts.

There were some raw chilli pieces in there too – which were responsible for making it one of the hottest dishes I'd ever eaten.

It was a shame because the dressing on the salad was delicious: a perfect blend of sweet and sour with a lasting tang. But the overriding sensation was one of heat. My lips started to tingle and no amount of water could stop the sensation spreading into my mouth.

When a waitress came over to check, I mentioned to her it was very hot and without fuss, she offered to make it again, much milder. I took up the offer, but even when the dish came back, I still found it too hot for my liking.

Because the restaurant is so popular, on booking, we were only given an hour slot for our meal.

As we left, my mouth was still tingling and we needed a brisk cycle home in the cool September air for it to cool down.

Mommy Thai, 3 King Street, York

T: 01904 628794

W: mommythaicuisine.co.uk

Food: Spicy 3/5

Ambience: Cosy 3/5

Service: Good 4/5

Value: Fair 3.5/5

Reviews are independent and meals are paid for by The Press