A vibrant addition to Oxford’s George Street, Rosa’s Thai has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a market stall in London’s East End. Fifteen years on from its founding as a restaurant group by Saiphin and Alex Moore in 2008, Rosa’s is bringing fresh, authentic Thai taste to the Oxford City Centre, using Thai produce including curry pastes from the Huai Yod district and pad Thai noodles from a 3rd generation family business. This was certainly reflected in the freshness of the ingredients served, which gave the food a much richer taste than its takeaway counterparts.
The evening started with a drink – a boozy lemongrass and pandan iced tea, which as with many drinks on Rosa’s menu also came as a non-alcoholic alternative for non-drinkers. An incredibly fruity drink the alcohol gave it a septic edge, reminiscent of the apples contained in a Mcdonalds’ happy meal, an unexpectedly nostalgic taste.
To sample as large a selection as possible I chose the Classic Sharing Platter, which included four of the six starters on offer, with prawn crackers. Intended for 2 people it came in at a very reasonable price of £18 (only £1 more than its vegetarian counterpart) and had plenty to go around. Both the pork and the chicken were well cooked, the former sweet, the latter saturated with the flavour of lemongrass though both were certainly largely improved by their sauces tamarind and peanut respectively. The remaining elements – calamari, spring rolls and prawn crackers – were light and savoury, and worked well with any of the sauces that came on the platter.
The Pad Thai is best described as incredibly filling, which when following a starter and a drink would allow it to be comfortably shared, though had a more-ish quality which more than justified the quantity served. The star ingredient was undoubtedly the peanuts which lent an earthy flavour to the noodles, complemented by the sharp citrus of fresh squeezed lime provided to the side of the plate allowing the meal to be adjusted to taste.
For dessert I tried both the Thai Churros and the Mango & Sticky Rice – both listed as Thai classics. Having never tried churros with condensed milk before I was pleased to find that it was sweet but not overwhelmingly so, providing a light finish to a hearty menu. The Mango & sticky rice was the same if a little heavier though this was offset by the sweet freshness of the mango.
Rosa’s markets itself as a home of “signature Thai hospitality”, a characteristic definitely attributable to this newest addition to the Oxford dining scene. Welcoming staff and comforting food produced a homely atmosphere, giving the whole restaurant an air of ease and familiarity and rapid service allowed the food to be enjoyed at a comfortable pace. Though the price range may make it an only occasional treat for our student readers, I would highly recommend Rosa’s to anyone looking for a fun evening out with family, college or otherwise.