London, Reviews

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

Rosa's Carnaby Street

Rosa’s Carnaby Street

A friend of mine who lived in the Far East told me that when it comes to Thai food, Rosa’s is not far from what you get in Thailand. Many of the foreign foods we get served in our countries get ‘localised’ (for lack of a better word), so when someone tells you there is Thai food in London that resembles food served in Thailand – you pay attention. Inevitably I had to try it and I have been 3 times since.

Inside Rosa's

Inside Rosa’s

One of Rosa’s most striking aspects is how relaxed it feels. It’s a very down-to-earth unassuming place (this was true of the two locations that I have been to – Soho and Carnaby Street, in London). I guess the word ‘Cafe’ in the name should have given it away. For some reason I was expecting a bit more formality but there is no such thing at Rosa’s. It’s relaxed in a welcoming way, let’s not confuse it with lazy or slack. Everyone is on point here. It’s also friendly, busy and neat. A place where you go for a good chat as well as good food.

The service is no-frills efficient and you can get served quickly – or get left alone if you are in the mood for a chat.

Rosa's fresh summer rolls

Rosa’s fresh summer rolls

We asked for a few starters, one of them their Fresh Summer Rolls. These are paper thin translucent rolls with zesty vegetables inside. Soft and sticky on the outside, crunchy and fresh on the inside. They are so delicate, fragrant and completely addictive. Other starters we tried also delivered on taste, but they are more standard: fried spring rolls, Thai calamari served with plum sauce.

Rosa's fried spring rolls

Rosa’s fried spring rolls

Rosa's Thai calamari

Rosa’s Thai calamari

One other starter worth a mention is the soft shell crab salad – crispy, spicy and delicious. Who knew eating a whole crab, shell and all, was so finger-licking good?

Rosa's soft shell crab salad

Rosa’s soft shell crab salad

When it comes to Thai food there is a staple dish for me: Pad Thai. It’s lame, I know, but I can’t help but love it. And to me the Pad Thai is a perfect test for a Thai restaurant. If you can make a good Pad Thai then it’s almost a given that 1) the rest of the food is good and 2) I will come back.

Rosa's Pad Thai

Rosa’s Pad Thai

No disappointment there. Rosa’s Pad Thai is as it should be: sweet, sour, spicy, salty. Soft and moist in texture with the crunch of beansprouts and ground peanuts to balance it all out. I will have it again and again and not apologise.

I have since eaten other mains, for example the Spicy Pork Neck salad which I really enjoyed. The meat was soft and juicy and the dish notes were sweet and sour. If you are in a no-carbs mood this is an excellent choice.

Rosa's pork neck salad

Rosa’s pork neck salad

I will go back for that Pad Thai again though. And more good chat. And authentic unassuming Thai food.

One more important thing to note: Rosa’s is really good value for money. You pay fairly and not a penny more. So, no excuses not to go if you are out and about in London.

Where: London (6 locations)

Cuisine: Thai

Type: Restaurant

Occasion: Relaxed lunch or dinner

Price: Very good value

Rating: 4 stars

Would I go again? Absolutely yes


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