Thaikhun Restaurant Children’s Menu – A Review

In May I was invited to the launch of a new restaurant in Guildford, specialising in Thai style street food. Thaikhun (pronounced Tycoon) are a small chain with 8 branches across the UK. I had a lovely evening at the launch, meeting the joint owner Kim Kaewkraikhot. We talked all about her life in Thailand, making award winning noodles. How when her now business partner, tasted them, he was inspired to invest in her and develop Thaikhun in the UK. Such an interesting story!

The Look

The decor of the restaurant is fantastic. Authentic and fun it’s designed especially to remind diners of the street markets of Kim’s home country. She even explained how she hand picks many of the items used for decoration on her trips back to Thailand. It was clear to see the time and thought that had gone into it.

A replica of the cart Kim sold her food from. Every restaurant has one to remind them of where the idea for Thaikhun came from. You can see the 'train tracks on the floor too. These run throughout the restaurant. Many of the markets in Thailand are built over train tracks and have to be picked up periodically to let the trains through!

A replica of the cart Kim originally sold her food from. Every restaurant has one to represent Thaikhun’s humble beginnings. See the ‘train tracks’ on the floor? Many of the markets in Thailand are built over train tracks and have to be picked up periodically to let the trains through!

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The decor is authentic down to the old sets playing Thai TV in the corner!

The Food

I love Thai food, but I don’t get out to eat it much since moving away from London. The food I tried at Thaikhun was hands down some of the best I’ve had. Noodles, of course, but also curries, salads, various stir fried dishes and options from the grill. The enthusiastic staff seemed keen to explain that Thai food doesn’t just begin and end with Pad Thai. And I’m so glad they did. It’s the thing I always order in Thai restaurants, partly because I love it and partly because it’s the dish I’m most familiar with I guess. However, when I was given the Pork Belly with Green Beans in Red Curry Sauce (Moo Prik King), well, all that changed. Juicy pork, with a flavoursome heat and crunchy beans!  I could have eaten a bucket of just that. With some sticky rice perhaps. Delicious!

Starting the meal with spicy crackers and a cocktail in a box? Yes please!

Starting the meal with spicy crackers and a cocktail in a box? Yes please!

Starters

A selection of starters. The Fishcakes were gorgeous little morsels!

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Take your pick. A selection of mains including the ever popular Pad Thai

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My new favourite Moo Prik King. Pork Belly with Green Beans in Red Curry Sauce. Amazeballs!

While I was chatting to the management I asked whether they felt the restaurant was suitable for children (once a mummy blogger always a mummy blogger after all!) I could see there were plenty of high chairs and a changing facility, but wondered if the busy decor and bustling feeling might be too much for some children. They told me that they were actually working on their children’s offering and asked if I would be willing to come back when it was launched to let them know my thoughts. I said I’d love to.

High chairs

Plenty of (decent) high chairs!

Children’s Menu

I have to admit I was concerned whether Oscar would cope with the busy decor and the unusual food. His autism means we can never be sure how he’ll cope in new places, so to be sure I could offer a fair review I actually took him for lunch a few weeks beforehand. He did brilliantly and loved the busy decor, especially the Garfield Phone! We ordered the PopCorn Chicken from the old children’s menu and I gave him some of my rice. He tried it all, including the spicy prawn crackers. I actually thought the children’s options were pretty good (and tasted lovely!) The only niggle was that I had to ask three different people to bring him crayons to colour his menu mat and by the time they did he’d lost patience and wanted to leave.

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What else do you do with the cloche over the condiments?

The Garfield phone went down a storm!

The Garfield phone went down a storm!

Going back he was much calmer and knew where he wanted to sit. It was interesting to see the new menus. They had retained the Pad Thai and Pop corn style chicken and rice options, but had introduced a Mix n Match option. I loved this idea as it allows children to pick the elements they liked and mix with a choice of three sauces, making the dish as flavoursome or not as taste dictates. Brilliant!

The new Thaikhun Children's Menu

The new Thaikhun Children’s Menu

All children’s meals start with crudités (vegetable sticks), then I chose him the plain noodles, the char grilled chicken and a nut free satay sauce. My thinking was that he likes chicken, occasionally eats noodles and adores peanut butter! It came, not on a plate as before, but in a yellow version of the compartmentalised school dinner tray, with plastic cutlery. I couldn’t really work out why, although I know some children prefer the compartmentalised approach to food, so maybe it was that. I have to say it didn’t really add anything to the experience for us.  The chicken was lovely  and the noodles were, well, noodles. He wouldn’t add the sauce to them, which was a real shame, as I think it would have been much tastier if he had! Ahh well that’s my boy. Maybe next time. But all in all I loved this idea. Children love control over the food they eat and this hands it to them nicely.

Child's meal tray

Children’s meals come in these trays. Great if your child likes to keep their food separate, but plenty of room to mix it up if they would prefer.

As a bit of fun the restaurant also serve all children a small pot of ‘creepy crawlies’ or Buffalo Worms as they’re actually called, to try. Oaty in flavour they were perfectly inoffensive, but Oscar would not touch them, telling me “You don’t eat worms Mummy!” Far too sensible my chap 😂. The dessert for the set childrens menu was a Mini Milk Lolly. Which I have to say I wasn’t sure about. A branded lolly, very squarely aimed at young toddlers, in a culturally specific restaurant, after a meal aimed, I would say, at children of all ages. It felt a bit odd to me, but the boy didn’t seem to mind and it would have meant we could have taken it with us if we’d needed to leave in a hurry, something I’m always appreciative of!

Buffalo Worms to try.

“You don’t eat worms mummy!” Buffalo Worms to try.

Green tea ice cream

The Boy got a Mini Milk, I got Green Tea Ice Cream. Mummy wins this one kiddo!

Thoughts

I like Thaikhun child’s offering. The food is well pitched and can be adjusted to how adventurous the child is feeling! The only thing I was a little disappointed with was what came with the food. On the new Menu it talks about “Fun Facts and Activities with National Geographic”. I like this idea. Something more than just a colouring option would definitely raise it above other children’s dining options on the high street. However other than the worms, we saw nothing of these. Oscar was just bought an old menu to colour, albeit much quicker than before. It was perfectly nice and all and I don’t have anything against colouring as an activity. I don’t know, maybe I was just expecting something a little bit different.

Maybe I was just expecting more than an old menu and some crayons.

Maybe I was just expecting more than an old menu and some crayons.

Would I recommend it as somewhere to take children?

I like that the children’s menu is flexible and the staff have always been unremittingly helpful and warm. If you have a child that is happy to veer away from the beige choices of potato based meals, then I would absolutely recommend it.

And if you’re taking them, it means you get to have Moo Prik King. You lucky thing 😉

Happy boy = Happy Mummy

Happy boy = Happy Mummy

 

 

Thank you so much to Thaikhun for their generous hospitality. I was not paid to write this review and as always all opinions are my own.

You can find your nearest Thaikhun here

My New Tattoo

In my late teens I decided I want to rebel. In the mildest manner possible. I was never one for starting a revolution, but I wanted to do the things my parents didn’t want me to do. So I took up smoking, drank heavily on a Friday night, got the top of my ear pierced (I wanted to get my nose done to really piss my dad off but I chickened out!), I occasionally inhaled (ahem!) and I got a tattoo. A tiny star at the top of my arm. The star was taken from the front of a friend’s wallet. I walked into a tattoo shop on Union Street, Plymouth, told them want I wanted and got it done there and then. It cost me a fiver. It wasn’t anything special to anyone else, but to me it ticked a box and actually I really loved it. It’s not the neatest work I’ve ever seen, but do you know, I had it done with all my heart and therefore I’ve never wanted to change it. I also didn’t want another one. It served it’s purpose, I’d been there, done that, so to speak.

Although actually that’s a bit of a lie. I have always thought about having another one. I saw other people’s and admired their creativity and courage. But I was looking for something small, nothing fancy. No names, no frills and flounces. Something that meant something, but nothing too painful. I couldn’t find anything that ticked all those boxes, and I was in no rush, so I let the idea go.

Then I had a baby and pain took on a new level of meaning. Pah! I’ve had my entire abdomen cut in two and a person removed. I got over that! What’s a tattoo compared to getting off the bed after a C-section? But I still couldn’t find anything I liked. I played with the idea of having something designed. Something with more stars (I love stars), possibly intertwined stars? Three intertwined stars to represent me, Ben and Oscar? Hmmm. Maybe. But it did get me thinking about the concept of family. My family. And that got me thinking about who I was now, what that meant and about my place in the scheme of things.

And then I realised, that no matter what happens in life, it will never be just me, ever again. Even if my family were to leave me, in any way, I will never just be me again, because I have given birth.

I will always be, regardless of what happens, Me and …….

And that’s when I realised what I had to have.

Me & .....

Me & …..

 

Eight Photos of Happiness

So recently I was tagged by the lovely Maria over at Suburban Mum to share 8 pictures that make me happy. They can be from any time period and of any thing as far as I can tell, they just have to make me smile. So here you go Maria and thanks for the lovely wander down memory lane!

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1) Apologies for the poor quality of this one, it’s a scan of a print out, but it was too cute not to kick things off with. I love this picture for several reasons. Firstly it’s of baby me and how cute was I (and how much do I look like the boy here!)? It was taken one Christmas (I think I must have just turned one – yes I was also an early walker!) and I love the retro tree in the background. It was taken at my beloved Nanna and Granddad’s, where I spent so many happy days as a child. But mostly its because of the bongabonga drum. That thing in my hand. It was some kind of drum with beads on string that made a noise when you twizzled it back and forth. As the first grandchild it was my duty to pull both the beads and the strings off this bad boy. But it remained on display, hung on the wall in the lounge. All the grandchildren played with it over the years and when my Nanna died, it was the one thing from the house that came home with me. This is probably the last photo of the bongabonga drum intact(ish). And it always makes me smile!

Lisa in Newquay '96

2) My second choice was this picture of me when I was 17. It was taken outside our holiday flat, on my first holiday without my parents. Me and three friends (Loulou, James and Liam) all trundled off to Newquay for the week and it was the most exciting thing I’d ever done at the time. The weather was so so and the flat really ‘vintage’ shall we say, but I didn’t care. Even when it rained we played games of Shithead that lasted hours and drank huge bottles of Country Manor. It was awesome. I also love this picture because I think its the nicest one I have of me as a teenager. I bloody loved that dress.

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3) My third choice is this one of me and the hubster. We met when we were just 19 and this was taken four weeks after we met. We were both dressed up to go to our friend’s 6th form leavers ball (or what would now be called a prom). It was such a great night and doesn’t he look a dish? I’ve had this photo framed and in the lounge of every house we’ve ever lived in. It’s one of my absolute faves!

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4) My fourth picture is this one of me in the Indian Ocean. Ben and I got married in 2008 but we knew years before we got married that we wanted to go to the Maldives for our honeymoon. So in March 2009 we did (we waited until the following year to go in the Maldivian summer). This picture was taken not long after we arrived on Komandoo and was taken from the balcony of our water villa. It was absolutely THE best holiday I’ve ever had.

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5) My fifth photo was another one taken on Komandoo. We were walking along the beach to dinner, when I grabbed this great shot of Ben’s footprints in the sand. I love the light in this one and I’m pretty pleased with the composition too. I want to get it printed and framed for the bathroom (one day, when I get round to it!)

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6) My sixth picture is this one of Ben with Oscar. It was taken on our first (or second, it’s a very hazy time for me) night home with our new baby and no one could sleep. Oscar would only stop crying if Ben held him wrapped in his dressing gown like this. I know it looks like Ben is asleep (it was after all taken at 3 in the morning), but he’s not. He just looks so peaceful. That time was anything but peaceful, for either of us, but this photo reminds me that there were moments of bliss.

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7) My seventh picture is this one of Ben and his sister Rachel. It was taken on a childhood day out in the 80’s. The venue had costumes to dress up in and took a ye olde time photo of you wearing them. I found this one at Ben’s mums house a few years ago and nearly wet myself laughing. Its Rachel’s face that gets me. She swears she was just ‘not smiling, because they were told Victorians didn’t smile in photos’. I think she looks like she’s about to do someone some serious damage. When Ben’s grandparents celebrated their Diamond Wedding in March, the family put a book of photos together for them. Fortunately this was added and even more brilliantly we were all given copies of the book. Now I can take it out and laugh at this one any time I like (sorry Rach!)

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8) My final picture is a recent one, taken on our wonderful family holiday to Bluestone Resort in Wales. This was taken on our trip to the beautiful Barafundel Bay, which was such a special day for me. Oscar surprises us most days, but that day he really shocked us with how grown up he seemed. He ran ahead, but never ran away. He laughed, he smiled, he didn’t run straight into the sea. What could have been a nightmare, turned into a dream and this picture of him confidently striding down the steps to the bay, fills my heart with happiness. Especially as I know seconds later, he turned round and asked to be carried. He’s still my baby ?

Thank you so much for inspiring me to do this Maria. I’d liked to tag:

Nat over at Diary of an Unexpected Mother

Carly at Carlyakamummy

and

Stevie at A Cornish Mum

If they’d care to join in.

xx

 

 

 

Diary of an Imperfect Mum

1,2,3 it’s magic….

I know I often write about stuff I’m having a problem with but this week I thought I’d let you know something that’s really working for me at the moment (as always the caveat when it comes to children is AT THE MOMENT!!)

So as a quick update I had my Health Visitor visit, for his 2 Year Check. Hmmm. How can I say this? Well it wasn’t horrendous, but it wasn’t all that helpful either. First off she was late and I mean really late. An hour. By the time she arrived he was both annoyed that I wouldn’t let him in the garden (I didn’t think I’d be able to get him back in if I did) and knackered. Going well so far. She sat and listened to my concerns about his speech, with lots of yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah after everything I said, which I guess she felt indicated she was listening, but to me sounded the complete opposite. She did say she’d refer him for a hearing test to be on the safe side, and gave me some leaflets on speech development (the most useful of which told me to get more eye contact with him, which I have been trying to do). She said she couldn’t refer him to a speech therapist until he was 27 months (he’s currently 25 months) but would if he was still at this level by then. And that was about it. She didn’t weigh or measure him (I have to go to the surgery to get that done) and in fact didn’t interact with him at all. I mentioned the tantrums and she told me (no joke) to ‘just ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good’. Really? No shit Sherlock. Thanks for that nugget. And that was that, as she rushed to get to her next (late) appointment. And I worried about this? Fuck me! Sorry, but really?

Anyway the next day I decided to take a walk up to my local childrens centre. We used to visit regularly and participated in two courses there before Oscar turned one. I also met my wonderful friend Emma there. We haven’t been back since his courses finished. I don’t know, it just felt so much part of his babyhood I didn’t think to revisit it. But the HV left me their brochure and turns out they run a course to help develop speech! So rather than phone, I got Oscar in his buggy and walked the 1.5 miles to the centre (on the way he fell asleep, far too early, but it did mean when I arrived I could talk to the Support Workers in peace!) It was so nice to see them. They remembered both of us and the administrator remembered both of our names AND our surname when she booked him on to their Chatterbox course starting in September – that woman should go on Britain’s got Talent for her memory recall!! Course booking out of the way, they actually took the time to ask me how it was going. I mentioned the tantrums, and they didn’t dismiss me with stupid platitudes. It was nice. I asked about a book the HV mentioned as I wondered if they had it in their library of parenting books. They seemed surprised at the book I asked for as it’s not one they recommend (I wont name it here in case it’s your favourite toddler book – to each their own). They did suggest another one called 123 Magic. Kate told me how she’d used it’s principles to great effect with her son, counting down each time she needed him to do something. Sounded good.

As it happened I was unable to find the book in the library, so picked up Jo Frost’s Confident Toddler Care instead (flicked through, still sitting on the table unread). The only page I did see, listed what she believes are the touchstones for toddler care and included Communicating Clearly. That along with the stuff Kate mentioned got me thinking. Do I communicate well enough or clearly enough with Oscar. So I decided to give my own version of the 123 thing a try.

And do you know it only bloody works!

I get down to his level (if practical), tell him what we’re doing, if there are options I offer them to him, then I count him down. THEN I DO WHAT I SAID! I follow through.

“We’re going upstairs to have a bath now Oscar. You can either walk up the stairs or mama can carry you up. But whatever you decide we’re doing it in 1, 2, 3” (and I show him the 123 fingers)

I’m not asking him, I’m telling him and if at three he isn’t walking up the stairs, I tell him I’m carrying him. Within a week I’m finding I am getting to three less and less. And the tantrums? Well he might be a bit shouty, but he doesn’t wriggle and fight me the way he did. It’s amazing. His speech is no better, but his comprehension seems to be coming on and I think that’s down to my clearer communication. Yesterday he even came up to me, for the first time ever and ‘told’ me he needed a clean nappy. I was so proud.

I know some of you might be reading this and saying “well duh Lisa, of course that’s how you do it”. And if so I hate you all for not telling me sooner 😉 ! I thought about being sad that I wasn’t communicating clearly enough before, but what would that achieve? Instead I’m loving that taking an idea from here and a tip from there and squidging them together has produced something that works for us. For now.

Always, for now.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

 

 

An Apple a day….

Until 2009, I lived, happily or not, without a smart phone. I didn’t have access to the internet at every given moment. I didn’t have the capability to take great quality photos and share them with friends (and strangers) at the drop of a hat. I didn’t have games, news, recipes, a calculator all carried in my pocket.

This isn’t a post about whether smart phones are a good or bad thing or whether they have had a positive or negative impact on living life today (my personal opinion is its a bit of both). I didn’t have this device until 5 years ago and I didn’t even have a phone to make calls with until 2000. I managed to bimble along. I survived. No, what this is about is about how my, yet to turn, 2 year old is obsessed and I mean obsessed with my iPhone.

For as long as he’s been able to reach for things, our iPhones have been a source of fascination for Oscar. When it first happened I just thought it was a fluke – he was reaching for everything right? But then it became clear the object he wanted to play with more than anything was a piece of technology – sod Sophie La Giraffe!! It took us a little while to realise this wasn’t because of what it was, but because it was the thing he saw us ‘play’ with the most and don’t all children just want to be like their parents? It started with chewing it (ewww!) and handling it. That was fine if gross. The problems started when he realised that a) just because we put it away, it didn’t stop existing and b) there was another world held within that tiny box!

My first mistake I guess was thinking this was cute. Oscar didn’t really watch much TV at the time and I was happy for him to occasionally watch YouTube clips on my phone. He was a Sesame St nut – mad for everything Elmo. So I downloaded an Elmo app. Elmo would Facetime my phone and Oscar would giggle at the calls, particularly at Elmo mooing like a cow! He thought it was immense fun and he could control that fun. Who wouldn’t want more of that?

But it was a slippery slope. I started downloading more (free) apps for him. I put them all in his own folder and before I knew it he could find them without any help from me. I even tried moving the folder around to see if he could actually recognise it or if he was just remembering the location. He found the apps he wanted every time.

I actually started to find his interest in the iPhone helpful. For one thing Oscar’s a runner, the iPhone keeps him safer. I could take him swimming on my own and get changed without him running off. But it’s also incredibly useful as a distraction technique. I could take him to the barbers and he’d sit (mostly) still while playing on my phone. We could go for meals and keep him amused until the food came. We started to be able to avoid boredom melt downs in public. Why wouldn’t I want more of that?

My problems with it started fairly recently. Now he wants it all the time. And when I don’t let him have it on demand, or take it off him, when I feel he no longer ‘needs’ it he freaks out. Proper screaming, body throwing tantrums. I’ve heard these referred to as iPaddys! And I don’t know what to do. Its so easy to cave when a supremely bored toddler is wreaking havoc in the bank, much to the disgusted looks and comments of the other customers (yep that was yesterdays joy!) You know the thing that will work, so you just do it, regardless of whether its the best thing for them. I’ve tried taking toys and books where ever we go, but they don’t have the same effect. Not on my son anyway.

I feel like the worst Turkey Twizzler feeding mummy every time I give it to him, but am I really harming him? Depends who you read. We hear a lot about how ‘screen time’ can be harmful, but research into smart devices, although in its infancy, shows that there is a marked difference between a TV screen and an iPhone screen. The difference seems to be primarily in the interactive nature of the apps. There’s an interesting blog post about it here if you’re interested. I am also of the opinion that technology now plays such an enormous part in our every day lives, beyond the box sat in the corner of the room, that children should be introduced to it. It will be part of their upbringing in a way it wasn’t in ours. That doesn’t make it wrong or bad. Its a fact.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to see him desperately and immediately happy when he gets his fix. His problem is not his, it’s mine. It’s how I became lazy, falling back on my iPhone in this part of my life like I do in every other part. How do I wean him off smart phone time if I have no desire to do it for myself? Its a serious question I’m going to have to ask myself if I want real answers.

I don’t think this is a ‘phase’. I don’t think he’s going to get bored of this just like he did with Captain Calamari or his other baby toys, because this keeps evolving, changing, showing that it can always be more. Its whats kept me hooked for the last 5 years, why wouldn’t it do the same to him?

Sometimes, when he’s freaking out, when he’s having an ‘iPaddy’, him using my phone is all I can think about. But my son loves other things too. He loves ‘reading’ books, he loves being sung and danced with, he loves any toy with wheels, his favourite foods include courgette and banana, his favourite words are Car and Mama, he loves being in the garden, he loves running, he loves any ball. He also just happens to love the iPhone.

How much he uses it, is up to me.

My love, with one of his loves

My love, with one of his loves