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Sara’s Thai Cuisine
I HAD travelled more than 12,000 miles before I sat down to my first ever Thai meal in a restaurant. Yes, it was in Australia just a few months ago where I sampled my first green curry, chilli chicken and satay.
It sounds ridiculous now, given that this country has more than a fair share of such cuisine, but it was while staying with my friends in Sydney who I had not seen for years that I was introduced to a whole new eating experience.
So it seemed a fitting tribute, when they turned up back on the south coast of England recently, to return the favour.
Ok, I couldn't offer the same weather, or the breathtaking views from the Manly ferry as it pulled out of Sydney harbour, or an afternoon on Bondi Beach before we ate.
But I could surely match the delicious food which we had tucked into on my last night in Oz!
I have driven along Portswood Road more times than I can remember and there's one place that's always caught my eye.
Sara's Thai Cuisine looks no more special than any other restaurant during the day but it was at night that it particularly caught my eye, with tiny twinkling lights in the windows and packed with people clearly enjoying themselves.
Still not clued up enough about my lemongrass and fish sauce to call myself anything near an expert, I told my friends to pick out the dishes we would eat.
And after a helpful recommendation from Sara herself, our starters were swiftly on the table first up were Paper Prawns with chilli sauce, Larb Gai - a scrumptious salad of minced chicken with lemon juice and coriander and onion and a spicy duck salad known as Phla Ped. The latter is along the same designs but has kaffir lime leaves and galangal mixed in.
Our idea of salads to start was to avoid getting too full before we reached our main course but I'll warn you, at Sara's they don't skimp on portions.
The main courses are so vast that making a decision was difficult. I knew I wanted to try one of the popular green curries, which we opted for with beef, but the rest was up for debate.
Eventually we settled on Duck Tamarind slices of duck with seaweed and crispy rice noodles served with a tasty sweet and sour sauce and something that already was proving quite a hit amongst the other diners, called Sea on Fire.
Now this is a dish that must be tried. Out of the kitchen, where we could see Sara was helping out as well as greeting her customers out front, came a duck made of tin foil on a sizzling platter.
Unwrapping it, there is a mass of delicious fresh seafood inside, cooked in a sauce that has a real kick to it.
Determined to finish the appetising dishes, each with their very different and distinguished taste, and with the help of a couple of bottles of wine, we finally made it.
I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough it's cosy, warm and welcoming, the food is tantalisingly fresh and the staff are friendly and helpful. At Sara's you will get your money's worth.
JENNY MAKIN Sara's Thai Cuisine is open every day both lunchtime and evening. Lunch is served from midday to 3pm and dinner from 6pm to 10.30pm. Takeaway orders are welcome but booking is essential at weekends.
Call 023 8067 6073.