1d St James's Street, Brighton BN2 1RE
01273 686 668 | Website
From the moment you step through the door of Lucky Khao, it’s clear that they’re not catering to the average farang. This is the big impact real deal, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the khrạw!
Lucky Khao has the electric energy of a hectic Bangkok night; neon lighting blazes through the space, and the whole place buzzes with an atmosphere that sends tingles down your spine. They serve up exhilarating northern-style dishes rarely seen outside of Thailand, and it’s probably glaringly obvious by now that we’ve absolutely loved what they do since before day one. Anticipation about Lucky Khao’s launch, in January 2019, reached such a fever pitch in the SA office that we would have camped outside the door if we could, just to be the first to try their food!
The bold Thai flavours mean business, bringing the essence of a northern streetfood stall into the heart of Brighton. Natasha, one of our Thailand specialists, says it’s 100% the best Thai food she’s had anywhere outside of Thailand. The caliber of the meal may be fine dining, but the atmosphere is fun and risky; raising the bar of innovative, contemporary Thai-inspired cuisine in the UK.
There’s a whole sea bass with delicate, crisp skin and softly flaked flesh; fresh betel leaves to wrap around scoops of raw beef larb or marinated chicken; and a som tam salad to send your head into a Scoville scale spin. This food is designed to be shared and torn into, full of a subversive passion that doesn’t explain itself, and doesn’t need to. Your attention is totally focused onto their faithful recreation of varied and unusual Thai flavours. A giant neon scrawl over the kitchen reads ‘larb is what you want’: the message isn’t subliminal!
What makes all the elements work so brilliantly is the strong team unity, which is down to Diana and Mike’s extraordinary investment in their staff. The whole team spent 6 weeks in Thailand together prior to opening, to look deeper at the origins of each ingredient and flavour, and their brilliant young chef, Luke Larsson, recently spent over 18 months training in Bangkok’s Michelin-listed kitchens.
Lucky Khao dares its diners to try dishes well outside the pad thai comfort zone, and is rightly confident that the taste will shout for itself.
Some say Bangkok is like marmite, but for me there’s no question: it’s a vibrant, exciting, grimy, chaotic, infuriating and utterly, utterly amazing city. Allow more than a day or two, as you need time to settle in, find the rhythm and enjoy the ride. Luke trained in two of the city’s big hitters - 100 Mahaseth and the Michelin starred Bo.Ian - so allow time to dine in at least one of them before you head north to find the inspiration of Lucky Khao’s unique, boundary-pushing menu.
Regional food variations are the stuff of constant debate in Thailand, and in my experience what makes eating your way around the country so exciting are its constantly changing flavours. Northern and Issan cuisine is meaty, fiery and less ornate in presentation than its central and southern counterparts. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are both worth a good day or two of your time, but I especially love the lesser-known towns and villages, such as Fang, where you can spend time in the tea plantations around Doi Pu Muen and eat a home cooked meal of locally-grown vegetables and herbs, chicken, and rice parcels in bamboo by the fire with a farming family. While we recognise that authentic is a vastly misused word these days, this truly is the real deal.
The entire north-east of Thailand is known as Isaan, and borders both Cambodia and Laos. You'll find a culture rich in influences from its neighbours; Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, spicy papaya salad, and a local dialect that is more accessible to Vientiane residents than to Bangkok locals.
We don’t approve of clichés when it comes to travel, but we have to make an exception when describing Bangkok – a city that really does offer something for just about everyone! Quite simply, it's one of the world’s great cities.
To truly get to know the Thai kingdom, whose history and culture date back to the seventh century, you really have to spend some time exploring Chiang Mai. Thailand’s second largest city boasts bustling markets, superb accommodation, and excellent food to be found everywhere from street corners to fine restaurants.
Find out more about Thailand