Restaurant review: Ting Thai Caravan, Edinburgh

Ting Thai Caravan at Teviot Place. Picture: Greg Macvean
Ting Thai Caravan at Teviot Place. Picture: Greg Macvean
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TAKE a look at this restaurant’s name. Now turn the page, wait for two minutes and try to remember it. See? It refuses to stick. Also, at the time of writing, this place had no website, nor phone number.

It feels transient. I suppose that’s apt for a Thai street food restaurant that has its roots as a pop-up, Ting Thai, which has appeared at various addresses, including nearby Forrest Road, during Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe in recent years. Rumour has it that it’s owned by the team behind eateries The Apartment and The Outsider, as well as its eponymous Thai chef, Ting. But who knows.

The soot-coloured exterior is dark, the signage is understated.

Perhaps, like its namesake, soon it’ll draw some lace curtains, hitch to the back of a Volvo and be towed away to do some glamping.

We hurried along before anything like that could happen.

It’s insouciantly cool and low-key inside, with communal wooden tables, a wall of gig posters and The Stooges, The Undertones and Nick Drake on the stereo. We were surrounded by youths.

The menu is an encyclopaedia of tempting sounding goodies, where beef is always crispy and pork is forever sticky. There are categories including Rice & Noodle, Soup Bowl, Other Box, Sides, Beer/Wine Snacks and Small Box.

We settled on three of the latter to share between the two of us as starters, and a pair of mains. These arrived all at the same time, each in a cardboard take-away box, while our syrupy helpings of lemongrass and ginger juice (£1.40 each) were presented in plastic bags, fairground goldfish style (though pierced with a straw).

Nestled on a salad of lettuce, chilli and shallots, the sai krok e-san (£3.30) were four rice and pork sausagey beasts. They looked a bit like chestnuts, with shiny skin stretched across their surface as tightly as American tan tights over a burglar’s head. Anyway, they were lovely alongside the sheets of pickled ginger that were their accomplices.

Our favourite dish – kai look-kuey son-in-law (£2.60) – featured a pair of halved deep fried eggs with a crispy-chewy coating, a dab of caramely chilli jam and crispy shallots. Rather than being scrambled or poached, these humble eggs had been transformed into something glamorous and exotic. They were the Ru Pauls of the ouef world. Lucky eggs, even luckier us.

The haw mok (£3.40) arrived as a tightly swaddled sweet pandan leaf, which emitted a poof of steam when we un-pleated it. The contents made for a simple, comforting option, with a single fat dollop of white fish, softly and warmly flavoured with coconut, galangal and coriander.

Onto mains and my massaman ped (£7.30) was a set-square-sized and plump duck leg dunked into a thick, sweet, hot and nutty sauce, with hunks of potato in the mix and a helping of puffy jasmine rice (£1.40). Gorgeous.

There was more meaty goodness with the moo yang (£7.80, also available as a smaller portion for £5.20). Though the pair of pork cutlets were rather dry, their caramelised coating of sesame, honey and palm sugar made up for the chewy texture, as did the helping of garlic noodles (£1.40), each the width of an electrical cord (and one that was so long that I nearly got Guinness World Records on the phone).

“I don’t have any puddings on today,” said the waitress, “Unless you want one of my teas?”

Oh, yes please, I do want to try the tongue-twister that is Thai Tea (£1.40) at Ting Thai. I was presented with a perfumed glass of woody-tasting ceylon, spiked with vanilla and cardamom, like a better version of hot chocolate.

As I really like this affordable and exciting place, there is only one thing for it. To make sure that it’s not as ephemeral as it seems, and that it never, ever leaves us, we must find this caravan’s wheels and remove them immediately.