Restaurant review: The Giggling Squid, Norwich
PUBLISHED: 13:35 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:52 16 January 2017
The Giggling Squid brings a modern taste of Thai tapas dining to Norwich, as Angi Kennedy reports
Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles - now it is bringing giggles too, with a new restaurant in the heart of Norwich’s historic Tombland.
Giggling Squid is part of a chain co-founded by husband and wife Andy and Pranee Laurillard who came up with their concept of a Thai tapas style restaurant in 2002 at Brighton. Their idea was for simple rustic fresh Thai food, with more unusual dishes added into the evening menu.
The Norwich restaurant, which opened in the autumn, is one of 18 so far around the country, and has taken over St Ethelbert’s House, the large Arts and Crafts-style building which was previously La Tasca restaurant and used to be home to Boswell’s bar.
As we stepped in from the cobbles of Elm Hill and Tombland we were met with light and bright decor - the look is stripped down Pacific Rim, rather than traditional and ornate Thai decor, with driftwood and smooth pebble wall hangings that bring almost a touch of spa styling.
We were immediately impressed by the waiting staff’s approach - welcoming, informative and happy to explain aspects of the menu with a good knowledge of the ingredients and cooking styles of various dishes listed. The menu itself has chatty comments beneath many of the choices, bringing a little extra personality and background to the dishes, such as: “On our first family trip to Thailand, I cooked this for my husband. We walked along the Mekong River to the fish market and picked fresh tamarind from trees on the way home.” It all makes for an inclusive and easy introduction to Thai food for diners unfamiliar with this delightful cuisine.
I went for the sesame king prawn starter - half a dozen plump prawns in a crunchy coating of breadcrums and black sesame seeds, with a dipping sauce - tasty, light and a good introduction to the meal. My husband meanwhile tried his hand at some DIY . . . a new addition to the menu, DIY Bundles. This platter arrived with tiger prawns and a selection of mini dishes of shallots, lemon grass, peanuts, lime, salad leaves, mint and a hot and sour chilli sauce to be put together in whatever combination the diner chooses.
My main course was chicken cashew stir fry - again, well presented, a good-sized dish with nicely balanced Thai flavours coming through the vegetables and sauce. I opted for a serving of prawn crackers rather than rice or noodles and this really sufficed, bringing a pleasingly spicy crispness. The stir fry was an enjoyable mixture of mushrooms, peppers, onions and roasted dried chilli, and was available with prawn or vegetable options instead of chicken.
My husband felt he chose less well with his egg fried rice and Pad Cha seafood dish. For him the pounded chilli, garlic, finely sliced grachai and green peppercorn produced a sauce too overpowering to be able to distinguish the individual flavours of the seafood selection, such as squid and scallops.
The dessert menu is limited but the mains were large enough to leave us really not wanting more than the smallest taste of something sweet. We chose a scoop of banana and honey ice-cream - deliciously creamy - with a scoop of black sesame seed sorbet, a new ice flavour to me which worked very well adding a light savoury chewiness to the sorbet.
The arrival of the fun and friendly Giggling Squid chain in Norfolk has brought with it a new take on enjoying Thai food.
Giggling Squid, Tombland, Norwich, NR3 1RF; 01603 667341; www.gigglingsquid.com
Expect to pay
Tapas dishes from £3.50. Tapas set meals from £9.75. Dishes from £6.95
Starters £3.50-£16.75. Mains £7.95-£15.95 (rice/noodles extra). Desserts from £4.95