Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Bluerapa Thai

It's always the way.  The closer a restaurant is, the less inclined you are to go.  It's probably because you think you could go anytime you want, and so instead favour slightly more difficult to get to places.  Or because you think there's no way a local place can be as good as somewhere that takes more effort.

Anyway, probably both and more of those reasons are why we have only just now made it along to Bluerapa, which is literally spitting distance from where we live.  I mean seriously, we can actually see the place from the windows of our flat.

Before you get all judgmental on me, it's totally not because the place has variously hosted a greasy kebab shop and maybe even a brothel (no wait, that was a few doors along).  I absolutely wish more places in Edinburgh were like Bluerapa - small, authentic, byob.  So all I can say is that I'm glad I didn't pander to my drinking buddy's 'eating's cheating' approach on a night out.  I instead managed to drag him to a restaurant, but only as it was extremely close to the local hostelry.  I'm just rather glad that happened to be Bluerapa.

I should also at this point declare a slight bias against Thai food in Edinburgh (well, to be fair, anywhere outside of Thailand).  We spent a delicious week training under the fantastic Chef Sompon in Chiang Mai and quite frankly have never looked back.  This coupled with the superb Thai supermarket in Dalry means we are generally blissfully unaware of the Thai restaurant scene in Edinburgh.

I do though like to see local places doing well, and many an evening I've lamented that Bluerapa's few tables were sparse with customers.  I would gloomily have predicted that we would see yet another local business shut up shop. Happily though, we got the only table available late on a Friday night, and there was a really nice buzz about the place.

So once settled in with our carry-out of beers, to the menu.  Aaah salads.  The one dish that doesn't appear to make its way on to Edinburgh Thai restaurant menus as often as it should.  The salad for me is the quintessential Thai dish.  The ultimate salad dressing of nam pla, sugar and lime perfectly lubricating meat, vegetables & (lots of) chillies.  It was the salads at Blurapa that indicated to me we were on to something.  These salads were great. OK so they didn't have the 20 scud or 'rat shit' chillies per portion that would be usual, but still seriously delicious, refreshing and different - and still a good chilli hit.

Namtok Grilled Beef - tossed with powdered rice, spring onion, shallots, coriander, dried chillies, mint and a hint of lime juices.
Yum Thai style chicken - tossed with cucumber, tomatoes, shallots, mints, apples, coriander, spring onion and hot & sour dressing.

On the table, condiments of sugar, nam pla, dried chilli flakes and seasoned vinegar gave the option to balance the sweet, sour, salty ratio to taste, but I think they should have the confidence to assert the skill of the chef.  In reality I'm not sure many people would take the opportunity to tweak their dishes.  For me, extra dried chilli is always welcome, but we discovered that a quiet word with the staff should assure more authentic levels of spice anyway.

On to main courses.  Whether it's because I think I make a mean pad Thai and always feel the need to compare, or because I was in yet another comfort noodly mood, it had to be done.  Just delicious.  Thick rice noodles, silky, salty, spicy, sour, and with the obligatory accompaniments - crushed peanuts, lime & dried chilli - exactly as it should be.

Pad Thai stir fried with egg, beansprouts, spring onion and homemade sweet Pad Thai sauce.
The spicy seafood dish was executed really well.  All the seafood - mussels, squid & prawns - succulent and delicious.  While not as spicy as advertised, again a quiet word to the staff would guarantee more authenticity.

Spicy Seafood - mussels, squid and king prawns with red curry paste, peppers, bamboo shoots and basil.

Overall, what an absolute gem.  Lovely staff and service, and fantastic quality food.  Some may be put off by Bluerapa's size and basic decor, but quite frankly the food here doesn't need to be supplemented by decadent surroundings; it definitely speaks for itself.  Even my friend admitted it was worth breaking away from the pub to visit.

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