ONE of my favourite things about living in York is that you walk down any city centre street and no two are the same.

It’s like leafing through the pages of this country’s architectural history and finding it all in one place. However, stroll along Lendal these days and in a rather squat modern building close to the Judges Lodging you’ll be transported not back in time, but to the bustling and colourful street food markets of Bangkok thanks to the addition of Zaap Thai to York’s food offering. The restaurant - which has replaced the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen - is owned by the team behind the award-winning Sukhothai, and is the fourth in a small chain.

We arrived hungry and had a short wait at the door for our table for two as the place was packed at 7pm on a Friday night. It wasn’t long until we were shown to a spot in the heart of the dining area and someone was along to take our drinks order within moments of us finding our seat – two Tsingtao beers (£3.60 each). We cracked straight on with the menu (I might have mentioned we were hungry). There’s plenty to choose from with 17 starters in the ‘snacks and nibbles’ section alone and that’s not including sharing platters or soups. We went for two of our favourites to share – mixed vegetable spring rolls and fried corn cakes (both £4.75).

Moving on to mains there is an equally large amount to choose from with an array of curries, noodle dishes, salads, grilled and roasted options and one dish meals.

Jordan opted for gang massaman curry which comes with either chicken, pork, beef or prawns and he went for the vegetarian tofu option (£9.25) with egg fried rice – an extra (£2.95). I went for Khow Ka Moo – a one dish of pulled pork leg with rice and ‘brown egg’ also at £9.25.

When the waiter took our order he explained he would bring the dishes out in the order they were ready and happily for us they came in the right sequence.

While we waited there was time to take in our surroundings. Zaap has gone all out on their theme – the place centres around the busy kitchen area, so you can see your food being cooked mere metres away. The walls are covered in concrete stanchions, colourful murals and graffiti, while the ceilings are corrugated metal hung with bunting and carnival lights. There’s not much gap between the tables, which creates a real buzz.

Our food arrived in double quick time. I deliberately chose corn cakes because I wanted to see if Zaap could better those at The Monkey and the Dog which are superb. In the event they ran a close second being almost as tasty, but having a heavier texture. The rolls I liked a lot, and Jordan rated as ‘fine’. Both were served with a sticky sweet and sour dip.

There was no hanging around for the mains, which followed swiftly. Jordan’s curry was tasty, but he found it a bit more fiery than a traditional massaman, but good all the same and there was plenty of it. The pork that I ordered was also in plentiful supply, served heaped on a bed of mixed steamed and pickled cabbage and accompanied by a wasabi dip which nicely complimented the meat. The brown egg looked pretty on the plate and was small, hard boiled, and tasted lightly pickled.

We settled down with a second Tsingtao and, in the reviewing tradition selected ourselves a couple of desserts, which, full disclosure, we’d have skipped if we were being sensible as dinner so far had been substantial.

I had glouy chuem – caramelised banana with vanilla ice-cream and Jordan went for khaow niew sang ka ya – sweetened black sticky rice with Thai custard (both £3.95).

When it arrived Jordan’s had the unfortunate resemblance of tripe, but what it lacked in appearance it made up for in taste. The blackened rice had the consistency of savoury sticky rice, but nuttier and sweeter while the custard was close to what you’d find in a good egg custard tart. The appearance of my dessert was equally left field – four bright orange banana pieces that looked more like carrots at first glance. But I needn’t have feared, when I tucked in they were the real McCoy just heavily disguised with a thick coating of syrup and certainly sweet enough. They came with a scoop of cooling Yorkshire Dales ice-cream from Brymor.

In total the bill the bill came to £51.30 which, without the £14.40 of beer was a very reasonable £36.90 for three courses.

Zaap has real life to it - all be it an assimilation of an Asian street market. Every effort has been made to create an exotic illusion and the staff could not be more helpful. It’s not elegant nor fine dining, but there’s no denying that it is fun and the food isn’t half bad either.

We’ll be back.

Zaap Thai, 7, Lendal, York, YO1 8AQ

T: 01904 626691


Food: Tasty 3/5

Service: Quick 4/5

Ambience: Bustling 4/5

Value: Good 4/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press