Looks-wise, Kwan-Thai screams "1980s Chinese restaurant" to me. There's green table cloths, waitresses in traditional costumes, an overwhelmingly long (though admitedly not leather-bound) menu and a general air of OTT-ness. But don't let that put you off -- you can always ignore the decor and enjoy the great views acrsoss the river towards the city of London and the Gherkin. Despite the lengthy menu, the starters selection was a bit limited and a bit bland -- three people of our four-strong party ended up ordering the crisp spring rolls (£4.50). They were nice if unspectacular, and I am tempted to deck some brownie points for the fact that the waitress refused to let me have a starter-sized portion of the som tum instead (a salad of young papaya falvoured with garlic, chilli and lemon juice and highly recommended by a Thai-connoseeur friend). Still, things picked up decidedly with the mains, where a huge selection tempted me away from my usual and much-loved choice of pad thai (here priced at a stepped-than-usual £8.95). Instead, I had the plah goong (£14.95), a pile of juicy prawns, noodles and salad, packed with fresh flavours and lethal chilies. The portion sizes were huge, and no one managed to finish their main course. This being a work lunch, we stuck to mineral water, though the wine list does feature a selection of Thai bottles (£13.95).
To be honest, I prefer the more casual vibe (not to meniton prices) of the Southeast Asian cafes scattered all over London. But for a work lunch, Kwan Thai isn't a bad option.
Kwan Thai, The Riverfront, Hays Galleria, London Bridge, SE1 2HD; Tel. 0207 403 7373; Tube: London Bridge; www.kwanthairestaurant.co.uk
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