The other day my family and I were craving Thai food similar to the one we love to have at our favorite Thai restaurant (located in the heart of knowledge village, Dubai).
What’s funny is that I lived in Dubai for a whole year and ordered Thai food from the place perhaps 100 times, but I actually do not know the name of the restaurant! That’s the peak of what they call familiarity breeds contempt. On the other hand, I think I get a pass because the name of the restaurant was not actually exposed on the building of the restaurant. It’s just one of those things whereby if you know about them, you know and if you don’t, it’s your loss.
Okay, so back to the present. I spent about an hour on my laptop trying to find a decently priced restaurant that sells great Thai food somewhere on the Lagos Island. About fifty tabs later, I came across a Thai restaurant called ‘The Orchid House’. I’ve never heard of them but they had an impressive number of good reviews.
The next day, my family and I set out to have what we hoped would be an aroi mak meal. On our way to the restaurant, google maps kept directing us towards the way to my office. At this point I was confused, famished and far from ready to arrive at a non-existent restaurant. I was 99.9% sure that there was not a Thai restaurant located on the street to my office. In denial slowly crept in, as I started to say ‘Google map is wrong!”
Not wanting to believe the chance of a Thai restaurant managing to skip my tight radar, I added “I pass this street at least twice a day and not once did I ever see a Thai restaurant”.
So picture this…me behind the wheel with a growling stomach ranting, my mother on the passenger seat with something close to a regretful face (she asked me to order take out for her, while she remains at home but I refused and forced her to tag along with us) and my two younger brothers at the rear seat, with desperate looks on their faces, searching both sides of the road earnestly with the hopes of finding the restaurant.
With my office building in sight Google said ‘you have arrived at your destination’. When I stopped the car and realised the building it was referring to, my eyes widened and I was like ‘no way!”.
So the truth is the restaurant does exist and I see it almost everyday but I was quick to judge its appearance. Firstly, similar to the restaurant in Dubai, IT DID NOT HAVE A BOGUS SIGN OUTSIDE TO ADVERTISE AND ALERT PEOPLE THAT IT WAS A RESTAURANT. Also, whenever I passed the restaurant at night, I would notice older white men entering the building so I just imagined it was some kind of pub, where people would go in to have a glass of cold bear, watch soccer or play snooker.
Guys be frank if you where strolling past this street (during the day or at night) and saw this building would you think it is a Thai restaurant?
I pulled my car over and changed into my critique hat. I had another look at the restaurant vis a vis the new knowledge I had, and could see the Asian thing going on. Although it was very subtle, the plants and the design of the roof gave it away. I think in terms of design, location and parking space they scored good. The parking lot outside could accommodate about 10 cars.
Upon entering the building we were greeted by nice looking ushers, who gave us the option to choose our seats. I found the inside of the restaurant to be very warm, artsy and cosy. The tall bamboo sticks, green plants and sculptures that were neatly arranged outside gave off an authentic Thai haven. I would love to see what the inside of the place looks like at night.
When I opened the menu, I was very pleased because the menu had pictures of what the dishes looked like. Non-Asians can relate with me and understand the challenge of reading and visualizing the names of unpopular Asian dishes. Another score for the restaurant.
We wasted no time in placing our orders.
For the appetizers we ordered the Gai Ho Bai Tey (fried chicken wrapped in Pandanus leaf) – N3,800
Mains & Drinks
Mum ordered the Steamed Jasmine Rice (N1,500) with the Chicken Kao Pad Kra Pao + Kai Daw (Spicy Thai Holy Basil Sauce) (N4,900) and a mixed banana and pineapple smoothie (N2,500).
N.B The Jasmine rice came with a small portion of brown rice.
The Boys ordered the Chicken Pad Se-Euw Gai (stir-fried rice noodles with chicken, egg and vegetables in sweet brown sauce (4,200) and the Chicken Kao Pad Gai (Fried rice with chicken and vegetable N4,200), with Chapman (it wasn’t on the menu but they provided it).
I ordered the Chicken Kao Op Subparod Goong (Baked rice with chicken served in a pineapple (N5,200) and a virgin mojito (2,500)
We made a special request for the food to be extra spicy and indeed they were.
I loved the Gai Ho Bai Tey (appetizer). When it arrived it was sizzling hot and after I had the first bite, I couldn’t suppress the moan; the chicken was very juicy and delicious.
The boys were quite pleased with their food and cleared their plates.
Mum was also very pleased, the sauce was plenty (and quite delicious if I might add) but she felt the portion of her rice was quite small and I had to agree with her. Orchid House can do better in that regards.
I had mixed reviews with my dish. In terms of the display of my food, I felt they couldn’t have done any better; my aesthetic hungry eyes were very pleased. However, the rice had cashew nuts and raisins; two things I dislike very much and would never catch me eating. So in order to enjoy my food, i had to pick out the raisins and the cashew nuts (which to my dismay were incredibly much). The description of my dish on the menu wasn’t very extensive. Peculiar things like nuts and raisins should be highlighted on the menu, so people that are allergic to them or dislike them can stay clear of them. Nonetheless, the rice itself was very tasty and the pineapples gave it a nice twist. If you do not like raisins or cashew nuts then do not order my dish, except you don’t mind spending 10 minutes to pick them all out.
I thought my mojito tasted fairly good but mum loved it (cause she hasn’t tasted any better lol). The boys liked their chapman but mentioned it was a tad bit sweeter than it should have been, which is probably not a bad thing for most people.
In between our meals the boys were able to watch their football, we also took some pictures with my Polaroid camera. After our meal, the restaurant was kind to give us some sliced fruits for dessert.
Overall our experience at the Orchid House was good. Our meals were quick to arrive; that was especially important considering how famished we all were. Also, for a Sunday evening, the restaurant was fairly busy; I liked that it wasn’t crowded. Will I go back again? Most definitely, but next time I’ll try their seat upstairs and order something different.
Critique Hat Score: 8/10
Convenience: 9/10 (they have two branches, one on the main land and the other on the island.
Recommendations (if any): I highly recommend their Gai Ho Bai Tey (fried chicken wrapped in Pandanus leaf) and Chicken Kao Pad Kra Pao + Kai Daw (Spicy Thai Holy Basil Sauce) .
Gafari Animashaun St,
Monday – Sunday: 12am – 10pm (according to their menu)
If you’ve been to the Orchid House, I’ll be more than happy to take some of your recommendations for my next visit to the place.
If you’ve never been to the Orchid House, you should definitely go try them out!