Our meal tonight comes to you, at least partially, courtesy of the CNN news network. In a survey of the world’s Top 50 most delicious foods Thai spicy sour prawn soup, tom yang Goong, came in at number four.
Thailand had half a dozen entries but I don’t think CNN had many contributors in Yorkshire. Fish and chips did make it to number 21 but not mushy peas.
Armed with this information and a menu from the new Thai restaurant in Broomhill we knew what to order to get the best chances of enjoying ourselves rather than leave it to Menu A or B.
Tom yang goong is dish 23 at Thai Thai ka on Whitham Road but I don’t think our waitress had heard of the CNN survey because she gave us the chicken version at number 24.
“Same soup but chicken,” I was told when they saw me looking puzzled. And while they were very happy to change it I was very happy to eat it as it was.
Thai Thai ka (the lower case ka is a word meaning they are being polite) is just across the road from the site of Sheffield’s very first Thai restaurant, Sompranee Low’s Bahn Nah, in 1990.
Back then most of us had yet to have our first Thai fishcakes with the now ubiquitous sweet chilli sauce, so the tiny little restaurant, very possibly the first also in Yorkshire, was an exciting prospect.
Old fans of the Bahn Nah in its early days may find Thai Thai ka is oddly reminiscent of those times.
It was staffed by moonlighting Thai university students and you ran the risk of getting the next table’s food, or the right food but in the wrong order.
On our night Thai Thai ka was a bit like that.
We went after the first week on a busy, noisy, lively Saturday – most of the din coming from a party of Thai students – and we, too, got the odd wrong dish, noticed ingredients missing or waited a little too long for the table to be cleared.
Most of the waiting staff are students and you know what students are like at clearing their own things up.
But we didn’t mind at all because it was fun and clearly still bedding in.
The 36-seater place, in what was the Refresh coffee bar, is the offspring of the popular Thai at the Travellers in Holmesfield run by Chris and Keng Wragg.
The menu is basically the same if a little shorter although still extends to 100 dishes plus a range of set meals.
“It’s a smaller kitchen than at Holmesfield so we can’t possibly do as much,” says Chris, who in the first few weeks is staying in charge in Derbyshire while wife Keng (which is pronounced Geng) looks after Broomhill.
Unlike at Holmesfield, she was also the only one in traditional Thai dress.
They expect a different type of customer. “Holmesfield is well liked but it does mean a run-out. Broomhill is very handy for students,” Chris adds.
That soup (£6.20), which rates a three-chilli warning on the menu, was fiery, spicy and fragrant, hot as well as sour, and by the time I’d finished my tongue and tastebuds felt as if a firework had gone off.
Toong tong (£4.60), our other starter, pastry parcels filled with minced pork and coriander root, served with sweet chilli sauce, are the Thai version of sausage rolls.
Green curry comes in at number 19 on the CNN list and we had the chicken version (£7.95), which is why I had specifically ordered prawn not chicken soup.
Cooked in a coconut milk sauce it was easily the best of our three mains, sweet and gently spicy, although not very green.
I was disappointed to see that instead of the usual pea-sized baby aubergine available from specialist grocers it contained slices of the sort available in any supermarket.
I was keen on having a Thai salad, which always offers a good contrast of meat against crisp and crunchy vegetables.
With yam neua (£6.90) there was fine, sliced cooked beef, still warm, on a bed of mostly sliced iceberg lettuce and cucumber, hardly exotic and with no sign of the coriander leaf with its background soapy taste.
Our third dish was a good moo pad grapao (£7.95), which is stir-fried pork, Thailand’s nod to China’s influence on its national cuisine.
We ate it all with fragrant rice (£2.50) and washed it down with a pot of jasmine tea.
They don’t do much in the way of dessert, except banana fritters or ice cream.
Not a bad meal but it lacked a little of the excitement and zest on the plate which comes with Thai food and which we have experienced at Holmesfield.
But for a lively night out, try here.
We paid £41.65.