Missing that South-East Asian tang on your tastebuds? If so, let your first port of call be Griddles for their zesty tom yum soup. Served steaming hot in an orange clay pot – a tango of finger-sized shrimp, shimeji mushrooms, and fragrant lemongrass – it exudes that distinct sweet-and-sourness characteristic of the best tom yum. But don’t stop there. The friendly, multi-lingual Thai staff will probably recommend the soft-shell crab for mains, and you should not hesitate to take them up on it. The delicate, deep-fried shells encasing the tender, juicy meat are mixed with the perfect amount of scrambled egg, onion and cilantro – a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Wash it down with a cup of Chang beer and get ready for dessert. Creamy spoonfuls of coconut icecream will have you wishing you weren’t too full to do it all over again.
• Open: Lunch 11:30am–1:30pm; Dinner 6pm til late
• Closed: Wed, Sat, Sun lunchtime
• Price Range: ¥1,500–¥6,500 • Access: Kitashinchi Stn / Nishi-Umeda Stn, 5-min walk
• Address: Yamachu Building 1F, 1-8-6, Sonezakishinchi, Kita-ku
• Tel: 050-5869-5405
• Tabelog: Ajianshokudouguridoruzu
At Thai-Ya-Tai, it’s all about the tom kha kai – their spicy and sour hot chicken soup with coconut milk, greens, dotted with red cherry-tomato halves is bound to leave you wanting more. But you must leave room for one of their exquisite grilled-fish dishes, of which there are several. The sweet-and-sour, carrot, onion, and cashew-topped option is a delectable choice, as long as you’re prepared to use your chopsticks to pick past the bones. If you don’t know your Thai dishes well, reading the Thai and katakana-only menu could be a chore, particularly as this restaurant offers far more than your standard, familiar pad thai and green and red curries. But the large, clear pictures and the friendly staff will help fill the gap. The restaurant is conducive to dining in big groups, as the seating plan is made up of five or six large, round tables, but don’t let this deter you from dining alone or in pairs – it is certainly worth it.
• Open: Lunch 11am–2:30pm; Dinner 5pm–2am
• Closed: Sun
• Price Range: ¥1,000–¥5,500
• Access: Higashi Umeda Stn, 7-min walk
• Address: Osakashi Kita-ku Sonezaki 1-6-23
• Tel: 06-6232-8733
• Tabelog: THAI-YA-TAI
Ten San Pak Chee
A top spot for a quick, casual, and very well-priced lunch, Ten San Pak Chee is a convenient stop while shopping in or roaming up and down the Tenjinbashisuji shotengai. This long, thin restaurant with very colorful vibes can seat around 50 and boasts several smartly arranged lunch sets, like the weekday business combo: stir-fried minced chicken with rice and an optional egg on top, plus a mini green chicken curry, a mini tom yum soup, a salad, and a coconut milk-tapioca dessert. Fabulous bang for your buck at just ¥790. The green curry set, pad thai set, and rice-noodle soup set provide equally good value for both wallet and tastebuds. Drop in at dinner time for some more elaborate choices. Course dinners can be arranged for groups with reservations made in advance. Check out the other Pak Chee locations in Kyoto – details and addresses on their website.
• Open: Lunch 11:30am–3pm; Dinner 5:30pm–10pm
• Closed: Mon
• Price Range: ¥790–¥4,000
• Access: Osaka Temmangu Stn / Minamimorimachi Stn, 7-min walk
• Address: 3 Chome-3-18 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku
• Tel: 06-6357-0892