Okay, so it’s not as extreme as it sounds – Sukhothai’s iconic, signature dishes are still available. And those two pages are really more like giant A3 posters that contain a huge variety of Thai favourites, from much-loved curries and stir-frys to exciting new seafood combinations and vegetarian options.

Owner and executive chef Ban Kaewkraikhot says the aim of the new menu is to celebrate how far Thai food has come over the last decade and a half. The team has worked for more than six months to transport authentic Thai flavours to plates in Leeds, so we can experience what’s traditional and what’s trending in Thailand.

I was lucky enough to get a peek and taste of the new menu before the official launch, which left me feeling slightly smug and super excited for Sukhothai’s next chapter.

To start

The range of starters has something that will get everyone’s appetite revved up, from classics like spring rolls and dumplings to the new, ‘dancing mushrooms’ (Rumwong Hed), a refreshing salad built from exotic Asian mushrooms.

I went down the seafood route and was delighted to find Gung Ta Krai, a pyramid of golden prawns, placed in front of me. The crispy batter melted away against the juicy prawn in a perfect textural contrast that had just the right amount of salt fishiness, offset by the Thai sweet chili sauce.

I was lucky enough to steal a bite of of Sukhothai’s signature fishcakes, Tod Mun Pla, which are one of the restaurant’s starring characters. Red curry infused, with a satisfying meaty texture, they’re not like any other fish cakes I’ve had before. And they left me wishing all future fish cakes would be like them.

The mains

To be honest, choosing a main was not an easy experience for me. As a seafood-eating vegetarian, I was presented with a symphony of heart-racing options and my eyes could hardly settle on one dish before something else caught my eye.

I was tempted by the Talay Pad Cha, one of Sukhothai’s debut offerings which is described as: “A new seafood dish that is also taking Thailand by storm, made with mussels, prawns and squid and served with a mixture of Thai herbs, fresh peppercorns and Thai baby aubergine.”

However, I kept coming back to Gang Kiew Wan Pak, a Thai green curry variation served with tofu, beans, green pepper, courgette, and thrilling little pea-like explosions of baby aubergine. I couldn’t resist ordering it with coconut rice, and soon found myself reveling in coconut heaven. Rich, flavourful, and seductively creamy, the curry was unapologetically fresh and sunk beautifully into the sticky rice.

I delved deeper into my coconut daze to indulge in a few bites of Gang Massaman, a tofu coconut curry that’s built from layers of warming spices, including turmeric, star anise, and cinnamon, served with peanut, potato, onion, and carrot. Mixed with a bit of coconut rice, the flavours unfolded one after another, giving way to a touch of heat and wholesome creaminess. The only downside – it was meant to be shared amongst the table, so I couldn’t polish it off myself.

The verdict

The food was outstanding, the atmosphere felt both special and relaxing, and the service was some of the best I’ve ever experienced – none of which is surprising. You don’t become Leeds’ favourite Thai food destination overnight, and Sukhothai has built a reputation over years of consistent, high-quality service and unfailingly good food.

Which is exactly why this new menu comes exactly at the right time. Sukhothai has honed its craft, not only presenting a range of classic favourites that they’ve already mastered but introducing us to new, authentic Thai dishes that they’re confident we’ll love. And if anyone’s going to take Leeds’ Thai scene to the next level, there’s nobody more qualified to do it.

If you’ve eaten here before, you don’t need me to convince you to head back to experience the restaurant’s next chapter (you’ve probably already got a table booked). But if you’re yet to head through the doors, I’ll be the sixth (or six-hundredth) person to tell you – you’ve got to try Sukhothai.

By Mady, Restaurants of Leeds Share this story