Dining out: Sabai Sabai, St Annes Road, Blackpool

Sabai Sabai in Blackpool
Sabai Sabai in Blackpool
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If any venue can be described as a ‘hidden gem’ then this is surely it.

You stumble across Sabai Sabai among a row of non-descript shops opposite South Shore fire station in a part of Blackpool that is hardly on any culinary map.

Inside Sabai Sabai

Inside Sabai Sabai

A string of fairy lights adorns the windows and when you step inside, the interior is neat and clean, but fairly basic apart from some Thai-inspired artwork on the walls.

And yet the restaurant boasts a solid five-star rating on TripAdvisor with some reviewers claiming it serves the best Thai food they have eaten outside of Thailand.

The premises has re-opened after being closed for around three years, with the same chef in charge of the kitchen.

We visited several times during its previous incarnation, and other former patrons may also recall the restaurant’s small water feature complete with bridge. That has gone now, and as mentioned, the decor now is much more modest.

Mains served at the Sabai Sabai

Mains served at the Sabai Sabai

But we were here for the food having been inspired by the online recommendations, and it has to be said, were not disappointed.

The menu, and there is also a take-away option, includes all the usual dishes you might expect with green and red curries and noodle dishes using ingredients such as coconut milk, peppers and bamboo shoots.

But for us the set menu for two at £19 per person seemed good value. After giving our order, a basket of prawn crackers was first served with a tasty dip.

Not long after a huge tureen of tom yum gai soup arrived at the table which we dished out between us.

It is a hot chicken soup flavoured with lemon grass, lime leaves and fresh chillis and is not for the faint-hearted!

In fact it can only be tackled when accompanied by a large jug of water, but once your eyes stop watering it is worth the challenge.

Next up was a selection of starters, described as the chef’s choice, but certainly they suited our palate.

This included portions of chicken satay, prawn toast, spring rolls and spare ribs with all the meat coming nicely off the bone, and accompanied again by two dips which certainly tasted freshly made.

Our taste buds were now nicely warmed up in readiness for the mains.

When I make steamed rice at home, I just serve it out of the pan - but at Sabai Sabai, rice is given the royal treatment.

It is brought to the table and served from a splendid silver coloured receptacle which my husband Clive enjoys referring to as the ‘FA Cup’.

Gang ped gai - Thai red chicken curry with coconut milk, fresh herbs and bamboo shoots - also looks marvelous, presented in a stacked ceramic basin.

This was accompanied by a dish of stir-fried beef with vegetables, mushroom and oyster sauce (Neau pad nam man hoy) and delightfully named pud puk, stir-fried mixed vegetables.

The balance of spices certainly hit the mark and the vegetables were full of flavour -there was nothing bland about this meal.

Service throughout was excellent, friendly and chatty and we were made to feel at home.

We shared a bottle of the house red, again reasonably priced at £11.95, but there are also Thai beers available.

One issue to note is payment by bank card is not accepted but it is easy to nip out to the cash machine just a couple of minutes away.

Our introduction to this style of food came through the now long-gone Siam Rice restaurant which once operated in King Street, and which other readers might also remember.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Sabai Sabai, and are delighted this restaurant has opened its doors once more.

I would give it top marks for the food, only marking it down a little on the surroundings.

But this destination proves you do not have to go into town centres, where prices can sometimes be inflated, to necessarily find the best dining experiences.

The bill , including drinks, came to £49.95 in total.