MAXINE GORDON visits York's new family-run Thai restaurant on Hull Road

INCREASINGLY consumers are looking to support local, independent traders – particularly in York.

According to latest figures from independent business association Indie York, two thirds of the city centre’s businesses are now independently run.

The demise of high street retailers and chain restaurants affords an opportunity for small businesses to move in and make their mark.

One such venture is Bamboo Thai – a restaurant newly opened on Hull Road.

It is run by Alex Keogh and his wife Lamai, who is head chef. The pair ran the successful takeaway further down Hull Road before they moved into the restaurant last month. They still run a Thai supermarket on the street and the new restaurant also has a takeaway section.

We arrived just after 6pm on Wednesday night. We parked in the forecourt, which has room for three vehicles (but parking is available on surrounding streets we were assured on inquiry).

Entrance is via the takeaway, where staff directed us to a side door into the restaurant. A friendly waitress invited us to select a table: there was plenty of choice because only one other table was occupied. However, by the time we left 90 minutes later, nearly all the tables were full and those that were not had "reserved" boards placed on them. Not bad for a midweek night.

In fact, the opening has been a huge success, according to Alex, who works front of house and was very welcoming and chatty. He told us all about the move and some of its challenges but added they couldn't complain as they had never been busier.

If you are thinking of visiting on a Friday or Saturday night, I'd recommend booking ahead (it is closed Sunday and Monday).

We had studied the menu online before arrival so knew what we wanted and quickly placed our order along with a request for two Thai Singha beers (£3.50 each) for me and my husband Nick and a glass of iced water for our daughter.

To begin, we shared Satay Gai (chicken satay skewers, £5.50) and dithered between the vegetarian Popia Tod (Thai spring rolls £5.50) or the veggie gyoza (£5.50), settling for the former. We weren't disappointed. In fact, they were the finest starters we'd had in ages – and the satay sticks were probably the best we'd ever had. What was so good about them? Well they chicken was just unbelievably moist and flavourful – and the portion was generous too: four thick and substantial pieces of meat. Alex told us they'd tried four recipes before perfecting how to make the dish – and it was time well spent. The meat goes through several laborious processes to tenderise it. It's this attention to detail that pays off – and also gives you an indication of the amount of care and love that is going on in the kitchen. This is what you want in a restaurant – long may this continue at Bamboo Thai.

The spring rolls were super too: again large in size and bursting with veggies packed within a satisfyingly crunchy shell.

Our main courses were good, but not as outstanding as the starters. My diners-in-arms picked from the curry menu: a chicken Panang (£10.50) for Nick and a Gaeng Phed (red curry) with vegetables and tofu (£10) for our daughter. Prices include a portion of jasmine rice, but Nick paid an extra £1 to switch up to coconut rice (normally £2.50 on the menu). Both curries were attractively served in earthenware bowls and had a rich sweet and spicy sauce dominated by the flavour of coconut. Nick had one complaint, that the chicken was slightly overcooked – a shame when it had been so delicate in the starter. Our daughter loved the way the tofu had been cooked, with a firm coating that gave it a pleasing, chewy texture.

From the noodles selection, I chose Pad Thai with king prawns (£10.50). This is one of my favourite Thai dishes, and while this wasn't the best version I'd eaten, it was still a good dish. I particularly liked the heap of ground peanuts on the side that I could spread throughout the sticky pile of thin rice noodles. The six prawns were big and juicy and very enjoyable.

We also shared a portion of stir-fried broccoli (£5.50), which was perfectly cooked.

Full up, we passed on desserts, which included a choice of Thai sticky rice dishes, deep fried banana and ice-creams, priced from £4.50 to £5.

Our bill came to £59: pretty fair for what we had.

Alex and Lamai and the team at Bamboo Thai clearly have the recipe for success. Alex says they deliberately chose to open their first restaurant out of town and are well supported by locals.

If you want to support a local family business, then this could be a place to start.

Bamboo Thai, 11 Hull Road, York


T: 01904 424952 (restaurant)/01904 423173 (takeaway)

Food: Tasty 4/5

Service: Great 4/5

Ambience: Unfussy 3/5

Value: Fair 3.5/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press