Thai restaurant chain Chaophraya is known for being stylish, contemporary and just a little bit opulent. Having recently undergone a bit of a rebrand with a new logo and new menus which encourage you to take a culinary journey around Thailand, Chaophraya invited me along to their Edinburgh restaurant to try out some of the new dishes for myself.
What We Ate at Chaophraya Edinburgh
The new menu – which comes folded up like a little map inside a stylish hard cover – is packed full of delicious-sounding dishes, so it took us quite a while to make our choices. In the meantime, we tucked into prawn crackers and sipped some cocktails – I opted for the Siam Smile, Lauren had the Chiang Rai, Laura went for the Mango Passion and Louise outdid us all with the Mockingbird cocktail which came served in a birdcage made of twigs. Yes, really! All of us were really pleased with our cocktail choices as they all tasted fresh, fruity and delicious, as well as looking rather pretty.
Once we had finally made our choices, we waited eagerly for our starters to arrive. I soon tucked into the soft shell crab and squid tempura, and there was also chicken satay and Thai fishcakes on the other side of the table. The presentation of all the dishes was spectacular, but sadly my starter didn’t quite match up to my expectations. The first few bites of my tempura were light and crispy, but the portion was huge and by the time I was half way through it all started to feel a little heavy. The squid and crab were perfectly cooked but the batter was verging on greasy and I struggled to finish the large portion. As for the rest of the starters, the chicken satays got the thumbs up and the fishcakes had a good flavour, although they were a little chewy.
Despite the mixed feelings about the starters, we were looking forward to tucking into our mains and they didn’t disappoint. Both Lauren and I chose the sirloin steak with panang sauce whilst Laura and Louise went for the duck tamarind, all accompanied by coconut rice. I asked for my steak to be done rare and it was perfectly cooked, nice and pink in the middle with a crisp, well seasoned outside. I also asked for extra spice and got some extra chillies with my delicious, rich and creamy panang sauce (although to be honest I would have liked it even spicier!). The duck tamarind also went down really well, and we were all very satisfied with our main courses.
By the time it got to dessert I was feeling pretty much full up, but managed to find a little space to try out the sorbets which were a lovely and refreshing end to the meal. The dessert menu was surprisingly big, and everyone else tried some of the more inventive options – coconut panna cotta, white chocolate box and the Thai dessert sampler.
The Atmosphere at Chaophraya Edinburgh
Situated in a prime rooftop location, Chaophraya has one of the best views in Edinburgh. The terrace and glass-walled dining area have fantastic views of the Castle and George Street, and our table at the opposite side of the restaurant had a beautiful view of the city’s rooftops and Arthur’s Seat. The restaurant itself is very elegant, with contemporary decor and little touches of traditional Thailand. The restaurant would be the perfect place for a special occasion meal, yet it’s still relaxed enough that you could come here with friends for an after-work meal too. We visited on a Thursday evening and the place was busy and buzzing with a mixture of birthday parties, work nights out and casual diners.
With chain restaurants like this, I always worry that it’s “all style, no substance”, but luckily the stylish surroundings and extravagant presentation is matched with tasty food, impressive cocktails and great service. Throughout the night I was really impressed by how friendly all the staff were – from giving us a warm welcome as we arrived to helping us finally work out how to pronounce Chaophraya properly!
Worth a Visit?
Chaophraya had a lot to live up to as one of my very favourite restaurants in Edinburgh is a Thai place (pssst, it’s Passorn if you’re interested!) so my standards were high. Although Chaophraya hasn’t quite taken over as my new favourite, it is a great restaurant which definitely exceeded my expectations. As I have mentioned before, I usually try to avoid chain restaurants as I often find them disappointing, but – apart from the starter – I thought Chaophraya did very well with good food, service and cocktails.
Chaophraya offers a more contemporary take on Thai dining, so you can expect modernised versions of traditional dishes and a dessert menu to suit British diners. I found that the dishes were a lot less spicy than I was used to in other Thai restaurants, which was a slight negative for me but for the majority of people this would probably be a plus as it would appeal to a wider range of diners who aren’t such spice lovers.
Have you visited Chaophraya yet?