My friend Katrina and I needed a place to eat by Piccadilly last Wednesday. We were going to see the new Harry Potter at the Trocadero (don’t ask – awful theatre) and didn’t want to end up somewhere too touristy or too expensive. After a quick peruse of the Top Table deals, we settled on Benja, a Thai restaurant on Beak Street offering one starter, one main and a cocktail for £15.
Walking into Benja, you think it’s a rather small restaurant, but as we’re led up a flight of stairs, you quickly see they have the whole building. We’re the first table seated in the dining room at 7pm. I wonder how they ever fill it up…
I ordered a cocktail with vanilla vodka cinnamon and lemongrass. It had a name, but I’m never good at writing those down:
Kat got a fruity one that was pleasant, but not nearly as tasty as mine. We were off to a good start.
For starters I went with a duck salad:
I could understand what they were trying to do with this, but it was off the mark. There was a lot of spice and quite a bit of tartness, but there was really no depth of flavour. The spice, in fact, was overpowering and it completely overshadowed what could have been a lovely little dish. 4/10
Kat tried the satay:
The beef was seasoned and cooked very tender. The chicken – a bit over done with not a lot of spice – got ‘meh’ marks on both sides of the table, as did the peanut sauce, which really did not much taste like Thai peanut sauce at all. It was sort of like watered-down peanut butter that someone put in blender with a bit of flour to thicken it up. 3/10
For my main, a lightly battered seabass with chili sauce:
I actually quite liked this! The fish itself was delicate and light. The batter was moist, not soggy and just very lightly coating the fish. Delicious! Sauce was not as entertaining, but certainly didn’t take anything away from the fish. I would definitely get this again. 7/10
Kat had the pad thai with prawns:
Unfortunately this was also pretty bland. I don’t get how if you’re a moderately successful Thai restaurant, you shouldn’t be able to get away with having a bad pad thai. It’s what most people order when they go to a Thai restaurant, right? I don’t get it. There was just nothing to these noodles. Very blah. 2/10
Overall, I liked Benja ok. It wasn’t the best and it wasn’t the worst. Sort of like the Harry Potter film we saw after…