The King and I is a short walk from our place in Guildford and is found in an old house that has been turned into quite a pleasant and attractive dining space – with some of the rooms towards the rear available for private parties – the waiters, decked out in traditional Thai costumes, add to the ambience.
A reasonably large menu includes all you expect in a Thai spot – a good range of vegetarian food is also available. Iced water was brought to the table as soon as we sat and as it is BYO ice buckets were promptly supplied. And there is no corkage charged – which is always welcome.
However, one thing to note for all the dishes is that the chilli component of the dishes is quite restrained – I suppose catering for more Westernized palates – I ordered a side of chopped chilli, but even they were at the very low end of spicy. A bit of extra zestiness would go a long way to improving the food offerings – however for all that the food is well cooked with the usual Thai aromatics.
We began with Pad Talay a stir fry of mixed seafood – prawns, fish, squid and mussels all had a part to play – with pepper, basil and chilli.
Seafood in the stir fry was cooked well, retaining a little firmness and crunch, while the vegetables cooked with it were likewise fresh and crisp. The flavours of this dish were characteristic of Thai cuisine with aromatic basil and lemon grass showing through – and the spice level was as I mentioned above moderate to low.
Our second main, steamed fish with chilli, lemon, coriander, onion scattered across – served on a fish shaped plate the fish was tender, juicy and flaked easily – a pleasant dish which would have been so much better if the chilli flavours were more pronounced.
All in all, the King and I turns out well cooked food, nicely integrated spices, complementary flavours; the décor adds to its charm – just the lack of heat in the spicing of the food lets it down – a good, solid suburban Thai restaurant, worth getting along to experience.