It says everything about Wimbledon’s half-cut restaurant scene that the recent arrival of Wahaca is the closest thing the area has had to a coup since the opening of The Lawn Bistro. Sure, there have been a few Lilliputian victories the last few years – an overpriced sushi joint here, a chain burrito bar there, a Bill’s because there has to be one everywhere – but the overall state of play is still pretty bleak.
So it was something of a surprise to discover a decent ‘new’ restaurant in Wimbledon that is, embarrassingly, actually rather old. Nestled between two pubs on a standardly nondescript part of the Broadway, Suk Saran is the less famous sibling of Fulham’s Sukho and has been around since I moved into town some 10 years ago.
I must have walked by it a thousand-odd times (it is nestled between two pubs, after all) before finally risking a meal there. In hindsight, this was rather foolhardy because the place isn’t just good for Wimbledon – Suk Saran is pretty good, full stop.
Dive into it off the high street and you’ll find a quietly confident and sophisticated restaurant – no exposed brick, no industrial beams, not even a blackboard in sight. Just nicely spaced, well presented tables, extremely obliging staff, and nice food. Can you imagine that? I know, it’ll never catch on.
Starters were headlined by larb gai, a very good rendition of the classic Thai minced chicken salad. What it lacked in an authentic chilli kick, it made up for with lashings of fragrant mint and juicy, citrus-charged meat.
Squid (muek yang) was delicately scored and nicely cooked, maintaining succulence and a soft texture while having nice charred flavours. The pungent chilli-lime dipping sauce seemed pretty standard but was a welcome addition. An un-pictured salad of green papaya and grilled tiger prawns also received nods of approval.
Mains include a sirloin steak (nua kra tah ron) that arrived sizzling on the platter, cooked to a nice medium, and glazed pleasantly but not overpoweringly with a tamarind sauce. A nice hunk of meat.
The monkfish and scallop stir-fry was probably least impressive of everything we ate. While competently put together and seeming fresh, it lacked any punch or real distinguishing features – you can see from the photo that ‘ordinary’ chillies were used in Suk Saran’s dishes as opposed to the more weepy bird’s eye variety – which is a shame.
A side of spinach was as simple and unchallenging as it looks but shouldn’t necessarily be faulted – it was cooked spot on so that it maintained some bite and provided a welcome extra bit of nutrition.
On the drinks front, there’s a surprisingly large and reasonably priced wine list. We gambled on the Monsoon Valley Colombard from Thailand and were pleasantly surprised by how refined it was – an unctuous, floral white that definitely shouldn’t be written off as a novelty act.
Suk Saran isn’t threatening anything revolutionary and there are loads of more interesting, authentic Thai restaurants around (check this guide to the best and spiciest Thai restaurants in London). It’s just none of them are in Wimbledon (or anywhere near Wimbledon, to my knowledge), and while prices aren’t cheap given the area, you can certainly eat infinitely worse and pay a lot more. Definitely one to note down if you’re stuck, willingly or unwillingly, in this part of the world anytime soon.