Friday, 25 March 2016


Another restaurant opened in the old Stockton's building in Liverpool City centre last week and it's the one I was most looking forward to trying. I love Asian food so the prospect of a new Thai restaurant in the city was to exciting to resist and so, a couple of days after its official opening, three of us popped on over to Busaba on Hanover Street to see if our expectations could be matched.

A good tug on the door and we were over the threshold. Down a ramp and up to the hosts desk we were taken to a nearby window table. Having opened a few day previously, the restaurant was immaculate. The decor is very sophisticated with touches of the Far East dotted around the dining area particularly in the Chinese lanternesqe lighting and the nods to Buddhist icons. It's classy unlike a tacky late night Chinese restaurant you might stagger into at 3am in the morning after a night on the ale. The menu is pretty easy to follow. Small plates to start followed by a selection of different mains ranging from curries to stir fry's via soups and noodle dishes. As Busaba had just opened there were lots of offers flying around (money off for paying with the app, a starter and a main from a set menu for £12.95) so do your research on their website and social media before you come and see what is on offer at the time for the best discount.

After having the menu explained to us, we went about deciding what to go for. Whilst we did, we were offered nibbles of prawn crackers. Not the naff white ones from the chippy that are made of air but the proper crunchy pink Thai ones. It's the first time I've had a prawn cracker that actually tasted like prawns and worked well with the sweet chili dipping sauce it came alongside. In my eyes, if even the pre food nibbles can surprise and delight you then I had a slight feeling this meal was going to be more than just your average Thai dinner. I couldn't wait for me an my fellow diners to get stuck in!
So, onto the food! First to land onto the table was one of the specials on offer on the day which were the chicken lollipops. Little skewers of soft and tender chicken, battered and served alongside a chili yellow bean sauce. I love yellow bean sauces and so for me it was the sauce that was actually the star of this show. It was sweet and had quite the kick to it! We all ended up dipping our starters into it! The chicken was nice enough don't get me wrong but the only problem I have with the dish is that it was quite small and was gone in 60 seconds. More if a canapé than a starter.

Now I say that about the chicken lollipops because when you compare it to the size of the veggie spring rolls that we got you'll see why. This was more like it! 5 gorgeously crispy spring rolls stuffed with piping hot veg and served alongside more of that sweet chili dipping sauce. You could tell they had literally come straight out the fryer to our table and were some of the best Spring rolls I've had in the city. This for me is your number 1 choice for a starter if you come to Busaba. Don't be put off by the fact they are vegetarian, you won't miss the meat once you take your first bite.
If you are hungry for something more meaty then you can't go wrong with a spot of soft shell crab. Ever since I first tried these a couple of years ago I fell in love at first bite and it's hard for me to resist them when I see them on a menu. Busaba's version had a delicious light salty batter which complimented the garlic pepper sauce they were served alongside. The pieces of the body of the crab were plump and juicy whilst the legs were delightfully crunchy like little crabby chip-sticks. Was it a small portion again? Possibly; but oh my they were yummy.

Onto the mains now starting with this gorgeous looking Mussaman duck curry special. Served on the bone but cooked so well that the meat just literally fell off it, this is more of a warm aromatic curry created by the cinnamon, star anise and peanuts as opposed to a blow your head off vindaloo from the curry mile. This is a good thing as I like to taste the flavors in my curry rather than having it burn my face off. The duck sat on top of chunks of potatoes and little zingy onions which were little bursting spheres of flavor explosion when you bit through them. A well thought out, balanced and tasty plate of food. 

For the veggies at your table how about treating them to a Pad Thai. This is staple for us at another Asian restaurant in the area but the verdict was that Busaba trumped their version with its visual stunning take on this Thai classic. Surrounding delicious tofu chunks was a beautiful mountain of beansprouts, broccoli, courgette and french beans topped off with a scattering of crispy rice noodles to add some crunch. Finish it of with a squirt of fresh lime juice and you have a masterclass in Thai cooking. Fresh, zingy and packed with tonnes of veggie goodness, there was not a single bite left on the plate!

If we didn't think it could get much better than the Pad Thai, my main was placed in front of me and it too looked visually amazing. Then my knife slid through my first slice of beef like it was butter. Then I popped it in my mouth! It was like the beef melted in my mouth whilst the subtle ginger kick from the sauce danced around my taste buds. Truly scrumptious. The chili and spring onions add a spot of freshness to the dish whilst the most interesting looking Asian mushroom was a surprise superstar. I'd never had a mushroom like it before but I'd love to have one again. Served with rice to help mop up all that sauce, it was perfection on a plate.

Having polished off our meals as well as our big bottles of beer, it was time to head off and enjoy the rest of the evening. Having watched Busaba slowly appear over the road from my work for weeks it was great to finally get to sample the finished article and I was not disappointed. The food was class (order those spring rolls if you want an ample sized starter!),  the atmosphere great and by the time we left it was heaving showing that the buzz for Busaba is high! Do yourself a favor and get down there and see what all the fuss is about. One word to describe Busaba. Brill!

Why not book a table! You can do so by heading over to Busaba's website right here where you can also check out the menu and their other locations!

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