The Begging Bowl, Peckham

Peckham is undergoing the same transformation Brixton experienced five years ago. It can no longer be called run down, ‘dodgy’ and out of the way. Instead, it’s packed with interesting restaurants, quirky pubs, rooftop bars and – consequently – houses I’ll never afford.

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Top of my Peckham to do list was dinner at The Begging Bowl – a Thai Street Food restaurant loved by critics and locals. You can’t book (surprise surprise), but considering there were ten of us, we only had to wait an hour in the pub across the road.

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The menu is colour coded by price, with dishes ranging from £5.75 to £14.50. Our waiter recommended five dishes between two, along with as much free rice as we wanted.

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From the £5.75 options, Stir-Fry of Morning Glory was a crisp mix of greens, sweetened with soya sauce. It was our only vegetarian choice – meat and fish ruled this meal.

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Skipping a price band, Marinated Raw Salmon, Tiger Prawn with Minced Pork & Coconut Cream, a portion of Deep Fried Blythborough Farm Pork Belly and Green Curry of Braised Beef Cheek were all £9.75 per plate. Each dish excited the taste buds with interesting flavours and varying textures.

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I particularly enjoyed the salmon, which came with an exotic mix of samphire, lemongrass, green mango and chilli lime dressing. It provided much needed refreshment in between mouthfuls of sweet pork belly and rich prawn curry, scooped up with large fennel leaves.

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The best dish was also the most expensive – Chargrilled Skate Wing on a Banana Leaf for £14.50. Not only did it look amazing (everyone had food envy), it was a substantial piece of white, succulent fish with a beautiful Red Coconut, Southern Muslin Curry Sauce.

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We were too full for pudding so, despite the allure of Condensed Milk Ice-Cream,  paid the bill and left. The Begging Bowl comfortably gets a LLE Rating of 8/10 – Brixton better watch out, Stylist may have called it London’s coolest neighbourhood this week, but next year, Peckham might just steal the crown.

Begging Bowl, 168 Bellenden Road, Peckham SE15 4BW

Begging Bowl on Urbanspoon

8 responses to “The Begging Bowl, Peckham

  1. I’m not sure it would be a Trotters’ Gaff, but it looks good to me, as I like Thai food. Just need to buy a 3 wheeled Reliant Regal Van, paint it yellow, and I will then be ready for Peckham!

  2. That looks really awesome. Been wanting to head to the Begging Bowl for a while now. THink we will have to make a trip down soon!

  3. I have been a long term resident of Thailand and am a frequent visitor and seeker out of authentic Thai food and so was very interested to seek out the hyped claims of the Begging Bowl as it is pretty local to my wife and I. Basically don’t believe the hype – all of our dishes failed to hit the mark and the best I can say is that the ingredients were fresh and well presented and the staff are friendly and efficient in a cool space. The Thai fish cakes seemed liked canned tuna dressed up as deep fried barbequed chicken nuggets. Wet and rather pointless. The duck curry was too hot and lacked coconut milk and any sort of delicate flavours to have balance and was too effete in those that it had to be regarded as anywhere near ‘street authentic’. The pork belly which replaced the menu pork belly option was like eating soggy cardboard – it’s hard to make pork boring and tasteless but they did. By the time the last course came I wasn’t expecting much and they didn’t dissapoint – it was steamed sea bream with a jug of some sort of watery sauce. No flavours at all to speak of and so we asked for chilli sauce and got some sweet bottled variety to try and spice it up a bit. In the end we came away rather sad – because if this is a restaurant from an acolyte of David Thompson then he should dissociate himself forthwith. I have tasted a couple of dishes of his at London’s Taste Festival and they were amongst the very best food of any cuisine that I have ever tasted. Here it was a confused, bland attempt at Thai food that missed the mark by miles. The place on Friday night was heaving and folk were having to queue for up to and over an hour so they were busy as they will ever be and most folk seemed to be enjoying themselves so what the heck. The staff were friendly and efficient and the place had a welcoming buzz but sadly if it’s delicious food with Thai heritage you are after then try somewhere else because the Begging Bowl is definitely not it.

    • Hi Ian, thanks for your comments, always interesting to hear what other people think. Where would you recommend instead? I would to know and potentially try them out for myself. Cheers

      • Easarn Khaew in Shepherd’s Bush for authentic eastern Thailand Isaan food. Mangosteen in Soho and Siam also in Soho. I hear very good thing’s about Kao Sarn in Brixton Village but have yet to try. Any Thai temple after the monk’s have been fed at 11.30 in Wimbledon or at Wat Buddharam (Wanstead) – amazing and free food if you turn up with an inquiring mind and an empty stomach. David Thompson’s restaurant in Nahm Belgravia seems to go through episodic phases of brilliant and then not so good I hear – as he is probably busy elsewhere to keep a very close eye on it and it is pricey.

        In Thailand too many to mention – but Soi Polo in Bangkok has some of the most amazing and cheap Thai ‘street’ food. Finally and the best my wife’s food – she is Thai which can take up to an hour and a half to prepare but is out of this world and her mum taught her to cook in her restaurant from the age of 6 so it is instinctual and second nature to her.

        I feel a bit bad about dissing the Begging Bowl as it is trying to do something different and take traditional Thai food to someplace else but for me it just wasn’t lip-smacking tasty – I always know when food hits the spot as I mutter away with appreciative gurgling noises when it hits the spot.

        Great blog BTW.

        Kind regards

        Ian

      • Thanks for all the suggestions Ian – I will certainly give the London ones a go and I do love Kaosarn (I’m local to Brixton village).

        If I do make it to Thailand one day, I’ll also try Soi Polo in Bangkok – sounds great!

        Glad you like the blog too 🙂

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