Khao Soi by Chariya, Alton

I have known Chariya for a number of years, and her MasterChef UK 2023 win was richly deserved. Her drive, enthusiasm and expertise has always been amazing, plus she is annoyingly likeable for someone so gifted.

When I learned Chariya was opening her own restaurant in Alton (also home to her coffee shop Coffee Cherry), I was extremely excited and booked a slot as soon as I could.

A few weeks ago (two after opening), me and H arrived promptly for a 6pm Saturday seating, after a sour beer or two at the Ten Tun Tap House.

It is an attractive space with lots of careful little touches like a scroll-style food menu and a plethora of Birds of Paradise flowers. The menu is contemporary Asian fusion, and has a really interesting array of dishes to choose from.

As an aspiring but flawed vegetarian, I passed on the delicious meat options (Korean Fried Chicken Bao Bun anyone??), and instead H and I shared a starter of Japanese Cheese Korokke. Crispy fried cheesy potato cakes is the best description I can muster – totally up my street, with a tomato dip to liven things up.

We both chose Thai Iced Tea to drink and it met all my milky sweet expectations. As well as some unique soft drinks, there is a small range of wines and beers to choose from.

For mains we both had Khao Soi, a favourite of ours from visits to Thailand. Luckily there was a vegetarian option with crispy tofu, and while I am not a fan of tofu generally, this was crunchy and puffy and made an excellent sponge for the sauce. As with, I think, pretty much everything, the noodles are made from scratch, and were excellent in both their crispy and boiled incarnations. The soupy sauce was full of flavour and just the right amount of heat, and was topped with a scattering of spring onion, beansprouts, coriander and a beautiful lotus flower-style wafer cookie.

Sadly all this deliciousness meant I was too full for dessert which was devastating, as options included Thai Tea Tiramisu and Yuzu Mascarpone Cheesecake. There is a lunch menu offering some smaller/lighter options as well as desserts, which sounds like the perfect excuse to return.

As with all my posts, this is not so much a review as a public service announcement. I’ll definitely be back!

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