Zaap Newcastle – New Restaurant Opens at The Gate
So Newcastle folk, another new restaurant has opened in the Toon! Zaap Thai officially launched today (17th August) in the city centre, becoming neighbours with Cabana Brasil and Turtle Bay. There had been an unofficial launch party the evening before, with Thai expats in the area invited along to try out the food and socialise. I personally think that was a lovely idea, and a great way of uniting the community behind a project.
I was already familiar with Zaap, having stumbled across the brand in Nottingham a few months ago while visiting friends. They also have a restaurant in Leeds and, like Thaikhun, seem to share a love of neon lights and trinkets from the Far East adorning their eateries.
Yes, at the far end of the dining room is the fascia of a bus! There are tables inside, but were unfortunately seated elsewhere. Because of Dinky we were given a rather boring table compared to those who were lucky enough to dine in a rickshaw. Definitely an experience!
Listen, this isn’t for everyone. With the music, hustle and bustle, the feeling of dining in a Thai street market is supposed to be evoked. Those who prefer more sedate experiences may not like this. Similar to Turtle Bay, if you’re wanting a romantic date night I don’t think Zaap Thai is for you. It would be perfect for catching up with the girls over cocktails or a family get-together. Dinky was made very welcome, which demonstrates how good the staff are with kids. There may be steps at the front of the restaurant but don’t let that deter you as theres a lift to the side. There are also baby change facilities and high chairs available.
There had been some chatter on social media about whether Zaap adequately catered for vegetarians and vegans because of a V symbol beside dishes with prawns. They certainly don’t suggest fish is suitable for veggies! The reason behind this is because the V denotes what can be adapted for vegetarians and vegans. Our lovely waitress talked through the options and assured us that fish sauce and other ‘nasties’ would not be used. She said the food is prepared fresh in the kitchen, which you can watch as it is open to the floor, and if you have a dietary requirement they will do their very best to accommodate.
Once our fears were allayed it was difficult to choose from the huge menu. For the purposes of this blog I assumed the role of Mr. Canny and ordered vegan. The Teen ate his usual vegetarian. Yet again, the Mr. missed out on a review trip due to work. I did buy him a cupcake from Farplace on my way home to soften the blow 🙂
The menu is extensive and divided up into sections – dim sum, salads, Krub Krib (snacks and nibbles), mains such as meat and seafood, noodles and rice dishes. With classics like Pad Thai, Massaman Curry and Papaya Salad, alongside Baby Squid and noodle soups, there’s plenty of choice. Similar to Thaikhun in terms of pricing, expect to pay around £4.50 for a starter and £9 for a main course.
We were given a basket of salty popcorn to snack on while we were waiting for our starters to arrive. The social media buzz surrounding the restaurant has clearly worked, with the restaurant filling up while we were there. The first 100 diners were given a goodie bag, which contained a mini bottle of Prosecco and some free drinks vouchers for the next visit.
With the same team behind them as award-winning Sukhothai, Zaap is completely different in the style of food they serve up. Food is very much street food standard, with our cubes of deep fried Tofu (Tao Hoo Tod) starkly served up on some chopped up Iceberg lettuce. The sweet chilli sauce accompanying was nice and stopped the beancurd from being bland.
The vegetable gyoza were delicious, with the crispy wrapper not retaining oil in the way some we’ve eaten of late have. They were so moreish the Teen accused me of having more than my half share. Cheeky so-and-so.
My Tofu Massaman was spot on, with a generous portion of rice on the side ensuring I soaked up every drop of the curry sauce it was bathed in. With chunks of potatoes, pak choi and carrots served up alongside more of the deep friend tofu, it was a filling dish. More fragrant than spicy, those wanting more of a kick should ask for recommendations from the team, who are certainly well versed in the options.
For those who are dairy-free, navigating the dessert menu may be more difficult. I spotted a couple of puds that were possibly suitable for vegans, like the Lod Chong Wat Jed, which has rice noodles, sugar syrup and shaved ice. The Teen decided to try out the custard pancake, which shocked him with its green hue when it arrived.
He was clearly expecting something akin to what I serve up at home as opposed to the pandan pancake he ordered! With a delicately coconut flavoured custard inside, he wasn’t that keen. I’m not sure if that’s more to do with his simple tastes or the standard of the dessert, being honest. I’d be interested to try out some of the sweets myself, but on this visit two courses was definitely enough for lunch.
At just over £35 for 3 soft drinks, 2 starters, 2 mains and a dessert, I think Zaap offers reasonable value for money. I suspect they, like neighbours Cabana and Turtle Bay, will start running offers for food once they have established themselves properly in Newcastle. 241 cocktails are available until 7pm, with a few to choose from. The service was super friendly and welcoming, with nothing too much trouble, and no reportable hitches on their first proper lunchtime service from what I could see. Very impressive. I look forward to returning again.
Thanks for reading,
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