Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Eating until I swell into a Phat Phuc

I am a big Asian food fan. I love it. I pride myself on knowing, and having tried, all my local Asian outlets. But I confess the only reason I came to hear of this one, hidden away as it is, is because of its simply AMAZING name.

I had been walking back from an amazing meal at El Gaucho (no, not the posh one) in the Chelsea Garden Centre, and saw an unprepossessing sign tacked to a brick wall just off the Kings Road. How could you fail to be intrigued? But I looked around... no restaurant in the immediate vicinity, so on I walked.

At this point my curiosity is less piqued than enflamed. Where is this restaurant with the frankly awe-inspiring name? Turns out, it's completely hidden away, in a below street-level courtyard just behind the Chelsea Garden Centre. Yup, right by that big ole sign that so frustrated me. Stupid Jess.

This place completely charmed me. A far cry from the swanky, over-styled and frankly, over-priced eateries that usually populate the Kings Road and it's environs, Phat Phuc doesn't even occupy a commercial space. It is a wonderfully quirky and authentic caravan-esque open-fronted van serving food, at lunchtimes only, to a small selection of rickety wooden tables set in an idyllic courtyard (think foundations etc), at entirely reasonable prices. The menu is brief, encompassing a whistle-stop tour of western-approved salads and spicy noodle broths, with light and refreshing starters like hoisin duck wraps and satay chicken. We ate on a gorgeous, bright but cold March day, and so eating outside under the gas heaters felt like a rare treat.

I settled for the Prawn Laksa, which has always been a favourite of mine but I've seen done in a myriad of ways, ranging from divine to revolting. The boy went for a Pho Bo (vietnamese beef noodle broth). We started with the Hoisin Duck wraps.

The food arrived pretty promptly, but for this kind of place (particularly as you are sat outside - although there are heating towers) that's quite normal, and I think a fast speed of service is acceptable. The duck pancakes (2 pieces for £3.50) were of a reasonable size and pretty damn tasty. My prawn laksa contained just the right amount of spice, and was pretty peanutty, which personally I love. I ate this dish all over it's native Malaysia and I have to say, this one was one of the best I've had. The boy was slightly less impressed with his Beef Broth, saying that it lacked kick. Luckily, there are plenty of spicy condiments on all the tables, and he was a pretty happy camper after a generous dose of chili sauce. Both mains were £6.50 for a pretty hearty portion.

I'm so pleased to have discovered this place, and will definitely be back. I just hope they decide to open up in the evenings once Summer approaches... I need more opportunities to visit and lunchtimes-only is a bit limiting. Great for a quick and delicious lunch, in quirky surroundings, at far below the usual Chelsea rate, provided the day is warm enough.

Phat Phuc Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

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