Thai a Yellow Ribbon
We’ve been back in Blighty two weeks now. An interesting time of adjustment but mostly a time of unpacking and finding the right place for everything hidden away in our tea chests. Leaving Baku, we had an excellent experience with the Rahul Shipping Company (www.rahulshipping.com) who came, surveyed and conquered by quoting a reasonable airfreight price and then forwarding our 17 boxes on to London while we went on our Iran jaunt. Now, we only had clothes and personal items to ship and no furniture or kitchen equipment unlike so many other expats. My commiserations to them, unpacking has taken me a week and has felt as intense as moving house. All the cupboards and wardrobes here in the London house just seem to have shrunk and are now stuffed to the gills. Of course, it’s easy hanging clothes on hangers and putting them away but, goodness, all the little odds and sods! Don’t they challenge you? The paper clips, the lipsticks, the photographs, the little decorative items, all of them beg to find a home while they lie accumulating in piles in various corners of the house. Having a husband who likes to hold on to old newspapers and ancient credit card receipts, not to mention salt and pepper shakers from the airlines doesn’t help my Germanic drive for order, and I have had to throw one or two rather rumpelstilzkinlike strops, let me tell you!
Yes, and then the adjustments to the previously so familiar…..on my first couple of trips on the London tube I found myself wondering why boarding passengers all stood to one side in an neat line. It took a moment for it to sink in, that they were queuing politely to let alighting passengers get off the train first. Azerbaijan taught me to muscle my way in, straight ahead with my goal clearly in sight, with no time wasted dillydallying around and waiting for others to decide their path forward. Not so in the UK, unless you want to draw some seriously dirty looks! The supermarket, with all manner of unseasonal fruit and veg and a vast selection of health foods was a revelation, as was the electrician who came, repaired and left with everything sorted out in the first effort. There is the blessing of the wonderful Pret a Manger sandwich shop chain (oh that cheddar and pickle baguette!) which brings a ray of culinary sunshine to high streets throughout London, in amongst the endless estate agents and nail salons. So far, so good. On the other hand, London traffic made me almost long for the Baku road chaos. Here drivers may stick to the rules but there are so many more cars, and getting anywhere takes an absolute age, not to mention the impossibility of finding anywhere to park, not even outside your own front door. And let’s not even start on the weather! I’d forgotten how dreary it feels, when the skies are gloomy and grey all day long and the drizzle never ceases, especially at the end of July!
As for London friends, well, most are away on their summer holidays and besides, I’ve been up to my elbows in cardboard boxes and the aforementioned paperclips and lipsticks, so there’s been little socializing. In any case, London life is so busy that the most you can expect is a friendly nod and an ‘so you’re back then, are you?’ comment on Facebook. There are certainly no fireworks or any rollings out of red carpets to welcome us back. In our friends’ consciousness we’ve just segued straight back into where we’ve always been, just as though we hadn’t been away for two years. And I’ve found myself missing my Baku friends, their individual personalities, of course, but also the common expat experience we’ve shared. It certainly binds you together and now I feel unbound. Not tragically so, but noticeably. That’s why London is a great place to live, almost everyone passes through sooner or later. This week, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting up with two of my Baku Babes, next week I’ll be seeing two more and, later in the summer, another three or four get togethers with favourite Bakuvians are on the cards. It makes my heart sing out with joy and anticipation!
First in the row of delightful visitors from Azerbaijan was my lovely Baku friend and GP with her super charismatic, musical medical husband and, to celebrate this momentous occasion, we took them to my favourite Thai restaurant in London, Sukho on the Fulham Road. I actually don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Thai food but this little restaurant is a far cry from your conventional take-away Thai, the menu offering unusual choices and the food absolutely exquisite.
Let me make you salivate! Between the four of us, we ordered roasted duck fillet wrapped in rice paper roll with fresh herbs, assorted dumplings with three fillings (Thai chive/sweet taro/ bamboo shoot with chicken and prawn), colours of steamed dumpling (flower dumpling with chicken/herbal fish dumpling/wanton dumpling with chicken and prawn), crab rolls, prawn rolls and vegetable rolls in rice wine sauce served with sweet chilli sauce, marinated seabass in red curry paste sweet basil and kaffir lime grilled in banana leaves, monk fish fillet and scallops stir fried with wild ginger, garlic fresh chillies, basil and peppercorns, king prawns cooked in aromatic red curry, lobster tail fried in aromatic yellow curry sauce with spices and Asian celery, a couple of portions of steamed fragrant rice, another of steamed sticky rice, and Bangkok bananas, ice cream and mango with sticky rice to finish. So now you’re hungry, right? All I can say is that every single last morsel was sublimely fragrant, aromatic, delicately spiced, succulent and just out of this world gorgeous! Unlike the food at so many other Thai restaurants, here every dish has its own distinct flavour and everything is so light and finely tuned, that there is no sickly sweet cloying sensation, and no overwhelming feeling of ‘stuffedness’ after you have overindulged.
It’s a small restaurant, prettily presented in a contemporary style with attractive Thai accents, and always buzzing. The service is wonderful, calm, efficient and charming, all at the same time, and the wine perfectly chilled. All this on a summer’s evening, coupled with sensational company – who could possibly ask for more?
We paid just under £ 200 for the four of us, including service charge, two glasses of wine, two of beer, two jasmine teas, a coffee, one sparkling mineral water and two orange juices. Sukho has a take out service, collection only, and two sister restaurants, Suk Saran in Wimbledon and Suksan in Chelsea. It’s closed on Sundays.
Sukho, Thai Restaurant, 855 Fulham Road, Parsons Green, London SW6 5HJ Tel.: (0)20 7371 7600 www.sukhogroup.com