Restaurant review, Thai Street Cafe: 'A true hidden gem serving some of Suffolk's best takeaway food'

A box of chicken satay covered in peanuts with fresh lime from Thai Street Cafe Aldeburgh

Chicken satay at Thai Street Cafe, Aldeburgh - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

I’m not the only one who’s overindulged in takeaways during lockdown – I know! Besides the perennial options of our local Indian and Chinese, we’ve been thoroughly spoilt. Afternoon tea boxes. Picnic parcels, Smoked meats. Gourmet burgers. Artisanal meal kits. We’ve tried them all. And, for the most part, they’ve been fabulous. 

But I’ve still not been able to quiet the nagging part of my brain that’s desperate to go ‘out out’. And in the lead up to this review I’d hoped to get that opportunity (I’ve had my greedy eyes on a place for weeks now). But, alas, inclement weather on the horizon put paid to my plans and, not wanting to be one of ‘those’ people (the kind who book and cancel), it was back to the drawing board, and a hunt for an interesting takeaway option. 

My prayers were answered in the form of Eliza’s Thai Street Café at DP’s bar on the northern end of Aldeburgh high street. Now, lots of people consider this place a bit of a ‘hidden secret’ of the well-at-heel seaside town...but I’m afraid it’s too good not to share. 

In the summer months (in normal times), this chilled, informal pop-up eatery can be found outside here, and it’s always so popular and thronging with people that I’ve never been able to get a look-in...until now. 

A click and collect service is available Tuesday to Saturday, from 5pm to 9.30pm. After a couple of bevvies under an umbrella in a downpour at The Cross Keys, when 5pm rolled around I was straight online to sneak in my order. There was going to be a two-hour wait – but us devout foodies don’t really care about that kind of thing (it’s our non-food-obsessed families who suffer). 

We may have had a cheeky portion of chips while we waited... 

My order at DP’s was just a minute or so wait on arrival and smelled divine. A whoosh of lemongrass, nam pla (fish sauce) and garlic rustling from the carrier bags as I made my way back to the car. 

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The food? Seriously good stuff. It has to be said, there’s not a great deal for veggies (a couple of dishes), and the prices are at the upper end for a takeaway (£10 to £14), but I’m a great believer that you get what you pay for. 

There were sharing starters. Plump king prawns and tender, silken rounds of squid in a slightly sweet, billowing, outrageously puffy batter that wasn’t greasy in the slightest. A foil of lime sauce with flecks of red chilli and garlic, and a hint of sharpness, brought the whole platter together beautifully. 

A dish of tempura squid and prawns from Thai Street Cafe in Aldeburgh

Tempura seafood with lime dip at Thai Street Cafe, Aldeburgh - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Also decidedly ungreasy were the vermicelli, minced pork and vegetable spring rolls, and Thai rice balls which formed a Thai Street Starter Plate. The rice balls were the biggest hit here, singing almost with the flavour of a red curry – bursting with kaffir lime and tiny nuggets of prawn. 

Spring rolls and Thai rice balls with chilli dip from Thai Street Cafe Aldeburgh

Thai Street Cafe's spring rolls and Thai rice balls - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Chicken satay is something my whole family with fight over in a restaurant, and there was no exception here. I could tell just by looking at the slightly charred skewers of meat that they’d hit the mark. Every piece was smothered, absolutely coated, in flavour, with a strong perfume of whole spices and lemongrass. And though they were caught on the grill in places, each piece was tender. And that savoury/sweet satay sauce? I could have bathed in it. The deep roast of the nuts took it to another level. 

Crispy Aldeburgh cod with garlic and black pepper was probably the least flavoursome dish we tried. There was nothing wrong with it per se, but it didn’t deliver the whack of seasoning all the other parts of the menu brought to the party. Nonetheless, the cod was flaky and fresh, and the vegetables (pak choi, charred onion, green beans) still had bite. This one’s for that person in your party who’s ‘not quite sure’ about spicy food. 

Crispy Thai-style pork with vegetables from Thai Street Cafe, Aldeburgh

Crispy Thai pork from Thai Street Cafe, Aldeburgh - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

The Thai-style crispy pork made for the leftovers of dreams. Meaty ribs and nuggets of belly had been rendered until melting, the skin scored and cooked until crispy, with pepper, baby corn, onion and hunks of garlic. 

But the absolute stonker of a stand-out, and the one dish I would recommend if you only have a single item from the petite but pretty-much-perfect menu, is the Ka Prow. The thought of this concoction is making me salivate as I write. Imagine, if you will, the tenderest prawns, minced pork, thinly sliced vegetables, garlic, and Thai basil, tossed together in a marriage of sweet soy and fish sauce. This ticked every box. Sweet, salty, umami, soft, crunchy. Oh my. Get me back there now! 

A dish of Thai Ka Prow, with prawns and minced pork

Charlotte's favourite dish from Thai Street Cafe at DP's in Aldeburgh was the Ka Prow - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

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