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Chao Phraya

When Chao Phraya opened in April, it offered a welcome resolution to a rather strange culinary standoff – the absence of Thai restaurants on Avenue Louise. But what distinguishes Chao Phraya from its peers, apart from its location, is probably the sheer amount of choice on offer. Effectively two restaurants in one, downstairs is a ‘floating market’ terrace restaurant where you can choose from the lengthy a la carte menu, while the upstairs is a three-course all-you-can-eat buffet.

Given that Chao Phraya covers so many bases, it goes without saying that it does some things better than others. The service is polite and efficient but could do with a touch of warmth. The décor has an Ikea-does-Thai feel to it which is inoffensive but hardly reminiscent of the Buddha Bar style opulence to which it appears to claim affinity to. And the food? Generally it’s solid Thai fare with occasional flashes of excellence. The beef penaeng would have been perfect if only the meat provided a little less work for the jaw. And the phad phed thalé, a seafood casserole with aubergine, basil and fresh pepper, suffered the reverse problem – delicious, fresh seafood and some the biggest mussels I have ever seen, weaken by a sauce that had too much chilli and not enough depth. Still, it’s early days yet for Chao Phraya. It’s a good restaurant that could get better.

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261 Avenue Louise, 1000 Brussels, Tel 02.640.43.48, www.chaophraya.be