Zen Durham Thai Restaurant Review


 

Zen Durham Review

zen durhamZen Durham is a superb Thai restaurant in the heart of Durham City. It is tucked away around near to Durham Prison, but don’t let that put you off. It’s an asian restaurant, with a bit of fusion going on. The aptly named Court Inn is the pub just next door. They also serve pretty decent bar food, but if it’s the insurance of a proper restaurant meal you want/need, just pop to Zen. This eatery is in a pan-asian foodie greenhouse, all exotic lighting and ambience. It looks quite swanky rich and to some folks, probably is. One good test of how good an ethnic restaurant is – do the people who’s cuisine is represented actually dine there themselves? Zen Durham seems to pass that fitness test, as there’s a good cross section of nationalities eating there, including Far Easterners.

The Durham Food and Drink Bus arrived, as it normally does, quite late and un-booked. Our little trip to the Durham Brewery in Bowburn had lasted longer than expected, and like the amateur fools (copyright Mr. T) that we are, hadn’t had any tea. The waitress told us we’d have to order before 10pm. That gave us 10 minutes, so we got our skates on and picked our food and drinks and still had a couple of minutes to spare. We were both starving, so that wasn’t really too much of a problem.

Starter was DIY Pancakes (£12.50), which is the usual Duck and Hoi Sin Sauce and crisp salad. The pancakes are served in a little bamboo container to keep them warm, and there’s a large bowl of sauce to add. The duck was chopped and shaped into pieces, rather than pulled and shredded. We prefer shredded actually, but it was still ok and didn’t last long enough anyway to give us too much grief. The drinks had arrived too, a Bellini for Mrs Durham Food and Drink and a Long Island Iced Tea for me. Both were priced at £7.00

zen durham mealThe main courses we selected were Massamam Lamb (£14.95) and Satay Chili Chicken (£14.95). Both were served in a nice little white bowl with fluffy boiled rice. The cutlery provided by Zen allows you to either eat with proper Chopsticks or cowardly select the english option. I have every intention of using chopsticks, but never seem to be able to wrap my fingers around the things properly without food flying off at tangents, so to avoid inconveniencing our fellow diners I took the cowardly route.

They didn’t attempt to hide the chili on the Satay Chicken. The little blighters were there, brazenly glistening on top of the dish, drawing me in like sirens do to lost sailors. I took a bite and …. Flash, Bang, Wallop ! I’d have been better off sucking on a chunk of semi-molten magma! Delicious though, and like all good Thai fusion food, the flavours come through and enhance, rather than masking the taste of the meal altogether. Still too hot for Mrs DFD though, poor lamb. Speaking of lamb, the Massamam Lamb was also top class, with a dryness and total lack of fattiness that most lamb dishes have. It was an inspired choice as well. The rice was exceptional, like a culinary fire blanket that could be used to dampen the chili flazen durhammes when needed.

I must say, the drinks were a bit of a let down, with no real depth to them. With hindsight, maybe they were used too much like quenchers after the chili, so I should give them another chance next time we visit Zen Durham.

Price was £56 for two. The drinks jacked this price up by at least 14 quid though, so the food price was better value than the value score might suggest.

Durham Food and Drink Rating for Zen Durham
First Impression : 8  Service : 8  Food : 8  Value : 7

zen durham eight rating

Zen Durham,
The Cathedrals,
Court Lane,
Durham,
DH1 3JS

Phone: 0191 384 9588
Email : info@zendurham.co.uk

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Palm Sugar Durham Thai Takeaway Review


Palm Sugar Durham was a name given to me by my works travelling companion Tom. It’s a Thai/Asian place that has only recently opened in Claypath, above another much longer established Indian Restaurant, The Capital. We like Thai, and Indian, so it’s like double-decker food heaven.

palm sugar durham dining room

We fancied a Thai or Indian meal, but couldn’t really be bothered to go out, so started looking on Just Eat for inspiration, and found that Palm Sugar were listed, so thought we’d check out their takeaway service. We ordered Crispy Duck Pancake as an appetiser, followed by a Green Chicken Curry with regular boiled rice and Beef Ginger with an egg fried rice accompaniment. Palm Sugar don’t currently offer a delivery service (that may need to change in future), so we had to pick it up. This proved not to be easy, as parking in Claypath is at a bit of a premium, and there were lots of traffic wardens swarming around, trying to capture poor unsuspecting hungry people, so I had to get dropped off and Mrs. Durham Food and Drink drove around the block until I had laid my hands on the bounty. This wasn’t as much a delay as it sounds, as the order was ready when I got there and it only took a couple of minutes to get in and out again, thankfully without falling up or down the stairs.

“Welcome to Palm Sugar@TheAuction House. We will bring you the very best of Thai-Pan-Asian Cuisine right to your doorstep. With a reputation of authenticity and excellence, great food, inspiring ambiance and a friendly service. Thai-Pan-Asian cuisine is popular for it’s subtle blending of flavour, utilising herbs and roots such as lemongrass, basil, coriander, galangal, cinnamon, garlic and chillies. Our menu has an extensive choice of 85 dishes for a complete Thai-Pan-Asian culinary experience.”

The meal would have been a bit on the pricey side, but Palm Sugar offered 20% off online, so it came in at £26. There was enough food to feed four of us, so £6.50 each wasn’t too bad, and boy was it tasty! The duck pancakes were pretty traditional, with enough to make 7-8 rolls, with Hoi-Sin Sauce and cucumber strips. The only small gripe was that the duck was a little on the tough side in places, but it still went down.

And then to the main course. Yes, it’s hot! We certainly were reminded about the zinginess of Thai food after this, but it wasn’t like the lingering afterburn of an Indian Vindaloo, but rather the subtle kick of ginger and spices, then a gradual cool down without turning us into burns victims, only fit for a spell in the University Hospital A&E ward. The chicken was presented in nice bite sized chunks, and the ginger beef just melted in the mouth. Watch out for the hidden chillies though! The rice was light and cooling in contrast, helping to dilute the heat of the main meal. A nice, balanced range of tastes overall. Am getting hungry again just writing this.

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Overall, a really nice takeaway, and we look forward to visiting Palm Sugar again for a proper sitty-down meal in the near future. We’ll review that one a bit later for you, when we can.

Now, where’s that waist band extender?

Price : £26 for four


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 8, Food : 8, Value : 7

palm sugar durham rating eight

Palm Sugar
First Floor
The Auction House
69 Claypath
Durham
DH1 1QT
0191 3863858

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