In my younger years I had big plans to circumnavigate the globe, ended up in a hut, on a beach in Thailand. Stayed 4 months in the same place, having plenty of fun and spending my money on local treats. Coconut shakes, lime juice drinks, garlic and pepper grilled fish, curries, rice, fruit platters drizzled with condensed milk. I remember one friend took the ‘dengy fever’ a horrid episode unfolded; she was certainly snogging with death. In her delirium she decided that Asian food was not her ‘thing’, not so clever in 1989 on a beach in Thailand, also HELLO this food is delicious you fool! She was taken to the mainland for drugs and burgers.
I love South East Asian food. Thai cookery is all about the flavour balance between, sweet, salty and sour, they need to be well considered and sit perfectly together to provide depth and zing. I have had lots of pretty rough versions of this delicious cuisine, overtly sweet noodles sticky and dull and dishes dumbed down to suit the palate of a convalescing baby.
Luckily Brighton people, UniThai on Church Road nails it. The noodle bar, as they call is, sits at the back of their small grocery store, itself filled with some wonderful dried and fresh ingredients. For in house dining a large sharing table next to a freezer in the shop itself is on offer and out towards the back a separate space with 5 tables. This is perhaps not the place for a romantic dinner, on my visit a couple on the adjacent table were having a hectic domestic debate but seemed to still enjoy the food.
We lunched on red curry, tender tender chicken with hunks of bamboo shoots in a creamy perfectly balanced thick broth, the pork with chilli and basil was umami tastic, served with a fried egg which would have been better served soft, though the lack of yolk did not cause a taste disaster. The pad Thai is fantastic, flat rice noodles cooked perfectly cooked, not served in a sticky coagulated lump. Delicious, crunchy with bean sprout and again the flavours balanced so well. A prawn and mushroom tom yum soup another fantastic dish, zingy and lemon grassy though with a depth of taste, my picture doesn’t do it any favours you shall have to trust my word! Jasmine tea and a bill of £26 followed. Come on that’s incredible for food this good.
This little place is clearly well known and a wait to be seated and then get your food is to be expected. Honestly I have only been at lunch. They do open for an early dinner on Friday and Saturdays and perhaps are not so busy in the evenings. Maybe give it a miss if you are in a rush, but really the food is so worth any wait I would work on slowing down your life to eat here. Of course you can also shop whilst you wait, thus utilising your time. This is a brilliant place, a proper hidden gem.
UniThai – 10 Church Road, Hove, Brighton BN3 2FL. 01273 733246