Review: Tuk Cho, Ealing [now closed]

Since the arrival of Wagamama, noodle bars and pan-Asian restaurants in the UK seem to be popping up everywhere. It’s a trendy way to eat, the food is packed full of flavour and fresh ingredients, and the prices are generally quite good too. In Reading, where we have a Wagamama at the Oracle riverside, we now have a Tampopo only a few doors away – a fledgling restaurant but one that gives the big names a real run for their money!

What’s great about pan-Asian cuisine is that you can start with a dish from one country, move on to a main from another and then finish up with a dessert from somewhere else. No longer do you have to settle for one country’s cuisine in one sitting.

Visiting Ealing earlier today, I stumbled across Tuk Cho on New Broadway, and decided that I must give it a go. I came away feeling very satisfied, very full and still with some change in my wallet. This super tasty grub didn’t break the bank.

For some bizarre reason, the first thing I chose was my dessert, so with my rapidly expanding waistline to think about, I decided to skip on starters and went straight for the main course.

Main Course

Laksa Lemak (Malaysian) – £9.90

What the menu says.. Sweet, coconut-based soup with chicken, prawns, coriander, lime, chilli and soba noodles. Stir it up to bring out all the different fresh flavours

The first thing that I noticed about this dish was its size. Yes, it’s a soup, which means it is served in a bowl, but this was a big bowl. The colour and the smell were most appealing, and so was the freshness of the ingredients on top – including chillis, coriander and red onions. Underneath was a generous portion of chicken and some prawns. More than two prawns would have been appreciated though.

After passing through the layers of fresh ingredients, chickens and prawns, you reach the noodles, and they too were plentiful.

Keen not to waste a single drop of this delicious dish, I couldn’t resist picking the bowl up and drinking every last drop of the soup. This moderately spicy dish was not one that I wanted to end.

Sticky Rice (Thai) – £2.00

What the menu says.. Nothing

This wasn’t a side dish that needed any explanation. It was rice and it was sticky. It was simply sticky rice.

Delivered to the table in a bowl, the portion was a little smaller and less sticky than expected, but it was still very tasty. I drenched the rice with chilli oil and soy sauce.

Dessert

Banana Fritters (Thai) – £4.90

What the menu says.. Served with ginger puree and your choice of ice cream

On each of my ten visits to Thailand, I have enjoyed banana fritters (or ‘fried banana’ as the Thai people prefer to say) and still it’s not a dish I tire of. Deep fried bananas in Thailand are normally served with honey or condensed milk, but at Tuk Cho you get a scoop of ice cream instead.

The ginger puree was missing from the plate (a little disappointing, I thought) but to compensate the bananas had been dusted with icing sugar. Five large chunks of battered banana were on the plate along with some ginger stem flavoured ice cream, topped with a sprig of mint. I wasn’t sure about the idea of ginger flavoured ice cream but it was amazing and quite spicy too. The bananas were just like you get in Thailand – super stodgy and packed full of calories!

Drink

Lime Soda – £1.20

What the menu says.. Nothing

How refreshing it is is to go into a restaurant and not to be ripped off for such an ordinary drink. Even at Frankie & Benny’s recently, I was ‘robbed’ of £2.30 for a bottle of sparkling water. So wound up by the price, I decided not to order another, even though I was craving something else to drink.

Tuk Cho’s lime soda is more than a splash of cordial and some sparkling water. The lime flavour comes from real limes, giving the drink a slightly green and cloudy appearance. Stuck on top of the glass is a nice big wedge of lime too. On what was a very hot day, I don’t think I could have had anything more refreshing.

The Service

Visiting the restaurant on a Sunday afternoon at 3.00pm, the lunch rush has long since finished and there’s still a while to until dinner, so it was unsurprisingly quiet, but this wasn’t an issue for us. Fewer customers meant faster service from the very friendly waitress. She delivered the meals and drinks quickly, and replenished the drinks in good time too.

The Environment

Diners can sit inside or out at Tuk Cho but we settled for the very trendy inside. On entering, we spotted the tuk tuk next to the bar, which was a really great addition. To the right side was the open kitchen where chefs could be seen preparing meals – much like other similar establishments.

The dining area itself was large, stylish and with an authentic Asian feel. The wooden chairs and tables were especially trendy.

Slightly different to Wagamama and Tampopo, Tuk Cho diners are not expected to share tables with strangers.

The Verdict

The real downside to Tuk Cho is that at the moment it has only one restaurant – Ealing. This business is a new one, but it’s sure to do well, and I only hope that we see them expand soon. Not being local to Ealing, I will have little opportunity to return to the restaurant, which has definitely become one of my favourites already.

The food, drinks, service and prices are already of a great standard. I cannot suggest any improvements.

Tuk Cho unfortunately closed down on 24 November 2013.

 

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