49A Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DY
0131 220 6846 www.dusit.co.uk
Dusit Banquet £29.50 pp
A la carte
Appetisers £5.50 - £10.50 | Mains £11.95 - £22.00
Cooking 6.5/10 | Service 4.5/5 | Flavour 4/5 | Value 4.5/5
You are in heaven in Thailand. A masked lady from Bangkok leads you down a stone spiral staircase. What should you be thinking? Well, there's the question of the dress code. Are you wearing appropriate attire? And how long will this take? Is there a danger that the elephant will get a parking ticket or be clamped?
Back to reality, boys and girls. Dusit is the Thai word for heaven (the fourth of the six levels of Buddhist heaven if you want to be precise). The stair takes you down to a little private dining room, and the ever smiling Doond, the lady behind the mask, is our lovely waitress who looks after us all night.
It's a reunion. The Grumpy Old Surgeon and His Gorgeous Wife have gone to live down south and are in town for a week. GOS and Kid Sister were contemporaries at Uni, so we all meet up, L and Professor J making up the party. This is a great space for a small group as you can shout across the table without fear of annoying others. It's a long time since I was here. A Thai meal, like Chinese, isn't ideal for two, as you want a good range of dishes to share. One of my best dining experiences was here years ago with the three offspring. We simply told the cheerful Dusit brigade that we were hungry, and would they please feed us lots. Which they did, to very good effect.
The thing about a reunion is that you want to chat as opposed to spending hours on the ten page menu. So we copped out and went for the banquet menu, a real steal at £29.50 per elephant. With hindsight, I guess the people who are so unimaginative as to go for the set meal are probably also the more conservative diners, rather than those who take risks in Bangkok cellars.
There were a lot of starters, many of them a tribute to the (exemplary) deep fryer's art, served with a lot of sauces. So there were duck and veggie versions of spring rolls, prawns done a couple of ways, and some chicken satay. Steamed dumplings were very good indeed, packed with a pork and prawn stuffing. The odd one out, as it were, came in the form of a warm beef salad with a lime, chilli and garlic dressing. Probably the most interesting of the magnificent seven.
Then a selection of mains, five in all. Good solid classics in generous portions. Duck with vegetables and ginger, for example, and prawns stir fried with cashew nuts. Chicken two ways, crispy with a lime sauce and in a green curry. Finally, stir fried beef with crushed chilli and sweet basil. It was all good and everyone was happy. We got what the timid orderers of set banquets probably want. What was absent was much heat. Thai cuisine is among the spiciest in the world. Even though a couple of our choices had the warning chilli symbols, there wasn't much of a tingle on the tonsils. I'll come back and go for the burn next time, a challenge being set down by the Seau Rong Hai, otherwise Tiger Cry, so called because it's hot enough to bring tears to a tiger's eye.
You can judge a place only on the basis of what you ordered. By that criterion this is very fine indeed. You can see why it's been a fixture of Thistle Street for nearly two decades.