london 1620


King's Cross, N1

Caledonian Road may not be everyone’s first choice for dining out. More a thoroughfare than a destination, this aorta running all the way from Holloway to King’s Cross can have an insalubrious air about it in parts. But, like so many areas of London that are a bit ‘rough round the edges,’ there’s always more than meets the eye. The street is peppered with independent restaurants peddling far-flung cuisines, from Azerbaijani Land of Fire to Ethiopian Addis. Southern Thai Supawan is one such place and once ensconced within its warm embrace, you can unwind and know you won’t be ripped off.

A little unassuming on the outside, inside it’s a different, bolder story: the restaurant occupies two rooms, one of which blends into their own florist (Aflorum) allowing you to dine amongst plants if so inclined. In search of cobweb-blowing victuals on a cold Sunday night, I was pleasantly surprised to find it open, indeed busy. The upbeat music added to the buzzing atmosphere, helping to distract everyone from the pre-Monday witching hour. If I’m to nitpick, said music was a shade too loud but consistent with the bright neon signs and Day-Glo banquettes – the vibe is more children’s play area in a Disney Store than sedate dining room but, for reasons I’ll come to, that doesn’t matter. Fellow diners on this visit were a combination of tourists, regulars-in-the-know, Thai customers (their presence being a reassuring endorsement) and solo travellers from nearby King’s Cross station. And the steady stream of walk-ins didn’t seem to faze the serving staff. Service was efficient and friendly throughout.

Whilst not a fan of noisy restaurants, the symphony of flavours was enough to dampen the din and take centre stage. And like the Fisher-Price décor, appearances are deceptive.

Supawan is a wonderful local restaurant where good service and authentic southern Thai cookery are assured

Run authentically by Wichet Khongphoon, he has designed a menu that caters for everyone. For newbies to this cuisine there are more ‘conventional’ dishes, such as Thai fish cakes, which still manage to thrill. Order a Thai fish cake in a pub and you’ll be lucky to get a flavourless MDF coaster. At Supawan we gorged on these rustic beauties, made with traditional Thai red curry paste, green beans and cucumber for roughage, zesty kaffir and a distinct leitmotif of chilli running throughout. Also falling under the ‘conventional’ (but not boring) section, duck spring rolls were surprisingly more complex than The French Dispatch’s various plots: crispy, moist and singing with hoisin.

Khongphoon clearly understands how to delight with contrasting textures and aromatic flavours. Laab aubergine could’ve been a mono-textural mush but here it was combined with delicious crispy shallots, subtle spicing and the occasional hit of mint to provide a welcome, refreshing surprise. Meanwhile, Yum Khao Tod, another multi-textural dish, came as a simple assemblage of crushed rice with coriander, peanuts, ginger, shallots, chillies and lifted to stratospheric levels of flavour courtesy of makrut lime leaves.

The Som Tam, a papaya salad with dried shrimps, prawns, carrot and peanuts, was similarly joyous. Ditto the Yum Kamin Khao, underpinned by the ginger-like root, white turmeric (complete with its anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits). And these were just the starters.

I’m in danger of becoming a regular

As for larger plates (and really, by this point, there wasn’t much space left), Moo Hong, a Phuket dish of pork belly with Chinese five spice, black pepper and dark soy, was so soft and gelatinous it may have been slow-cooked for aeons. Similar care, attention, and I daresay love, had been applied to the Beef Cheek Massaman and Paneang Chicken, both nuttier curries but equally packing a punch.

Desserts seemed a bit of a washout – all ice creams and sorbets, mostly based on the Thai predilection for coconut and condensed milk. I imagine they all act as decent palate cleansers rather than create a memorable coda to the meal. In any case, my companion and I were sufficiently sated by the generous savoury dishes – any more would’ve been sheer gluttony.

And there’s nothing quite like finishing a satisfying meal with an extremely reasonable bill: three courses, a beer each and service all comfortably under 50 quid.

Supawan is a wonderful local restaurant where good service and authentic southern Thai cookery in a ‘fun’ atmosphere are assured. I’m in danger of becoming a regular.

Food & Drink56
about our grading system

38 Caledonian Road
King’s Cross
N1 9DT

December 2021



You Might Also Like