AT ROSA'S THAI CAFE
Rosa’s Thai Café is what Leeds has needed for a long time. For despite its wonderful and varied selection of eateries there is no equal in style, originality and food offering to this exquisite Thai restaurant.
Situated in the Trinity Centre, above Top Man, this place has atmosphere from the moment you walk in. There is a choice of seating inside or outside in the centre, both have a wonderful ambience. There’s an outside terrace that is ideal for sipping pre-dinner cocktails or a place to savour a cheeky drink after a heavenly meal and watch the world go by in Briggate below.
Making our way into the restaurant we were greeted with a friendly Thai smile. Nothing is too much trouble her for the efficient and friendly staff. We decided to sit inside because the English summer was at its worst. As we looked over the extensive menu we opted for a cocktail.
Rosa’s cocktails are like no other as they have been designed to complement the flavours of Thai food.
My choice of Appe-Thai-Zing, a refreshing ginger Collins with gin and Asian botanical sour syrup and it did not disappoint. I adore ginger and to have pieces of real ginger in my cocktail was a pleasing find.
Rosa’s Boozy Iced Tea was my partners choice. It was a punchy cocktail that much to my amusement came in a pickle jar with a double shot of spiced rum plus Thai lemon iced tea he found the whole thing very refreshing.
Through this review you will see the name Rosa appearing and there’s a tale behind that name. The first restaurant owner and chef Saiphin opened was on the site of an East End ‘caff’. Out of respect to the previous owner and because they had no budget for a new sign they decided to keep the name.
So over the years Saiphin has become known as Rosa. As Rosa she challenges herself to cook authentic Thai dishes with local British produce and a few key ingredients from Thailand.
If you want to order Thai food the Thai way you can forget the starters, mains and sides and order a big spread of dishes to share and everything comes out at the same time. The menu has advice on how to make up your traditional meal and chef’s recommendations appear in red print.
For us this was not practicable to have our meal in the typical Thai way as we both have very very different tastes in food. We opted to start with prawn crackers served with a peanut and sweet chilli dipping sauce, which we did share.
My partner went for the crispy prawns. They were fried in breadcrumbs and the batter was light. It was a large portion for a starter but they were hot and crispy. I ordered Fried Spring Rolls. These too were crispy, deep fried and hand-rolled. The rolls were filled with vegetables and noodles and very flavoursome and served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.
For main course I opted for the grilled pork skewers. There were six char-grilled pieces of pork cooked to my requirement and marinated in a delicious honey – it was served with Rosa’s own tamarind dipping sauce. I loved the dish as it was not hot or spicy and the honey gave it a smooth but sweet taste – perfect with pork.
My partner, a lover of things hot and spicy, chose stir fried beef with a black pepper sauce. It was served with Rosa’s own stir fry sauce with onion, red and green chillies combining a fusion of flavours that were just perfect. For someone who travels all over the world in his job he described this dish as totally amazing with a sauce that makes the flavour true to Thailand.
We shared a portion of egg fried rice and jasmine steamed rice cooked and served as it should be which like all Rosa’s dishes had a flavour all of its own. The rice comes from Thai farmers who supply her jasmine rice, pastes and coconut milk all of which are vegan and gluten free.
Desserts at Rosa’s have the same tender loving care invested in them as all the dishes on the menu. My partner chose the Affogato – vanilla ice cream serve in an espresso with a shot of spiced rum. This makes a light but appetising dessert after the dishes he had experienced.
But my choice was doubly delicious. I love coconut ice cream, which I first tasted in Tobago. Since then there’s only been a couple of coconut ice creams that have lived up to my Tobago Ice Cream experience – but Rosa’s does. It brought back memories of two trips spent on my favourite island.
Rosa’s Thai Café has a wonderful atmosphere and serves authentic Thai food, full of flavour prepared from her family’s recipes giving guests a true taste of Thailand. It’s a place that can be whatever you want it to be. Ideal for a girlie lunch on a shopping trip, a romantic dinner for two, a family meal – there’s special menus for the little ones or a celebration meal with their special feasting menus
Rosa’s Thai Café, Upper Dining Terrace, Trinity Leeds. Open Monday to Sunday 11.30am – 10.00pm. Tel 0113 834 3173 – rosathaicafe.com.