Londonist recently got an invite to check out Thai restaurant Benja’s updated menu under new executive chef, Chef McDang. According to the folks at Benja, the updates hint at “what is promised early next year when McDang will create a brand new a la carte menu for Benja.” If that’s the case, then we hope they’ll invite us back to try his a la carte creations. Indeed, we savoured just about every bite on our visit. For starters, the grilled New Zealand mussels with chilli and lime dressing had us hankering for another order, as did the tod mun khao pod (deep fried corn cakes with squid and prawns). Char-grilled duck breast topped with tamarind sauce was a luscious main, and the mussamum curry with lamb was worth remembering for next time. We didn’t have room for dessert (but maybe that had more to do with the cocktails than the meal).
Londonist used the invitation as an excuse to play catch up with an old friend we hadn’t seen for ages. We appreciated having Benja’s cocktail menu to enjoy while we convened. Our particular favourites were the Scotch Teaser (Havana Seven Years Old Rum, butterscotch Schnapps, lime juice and sugar finished with a cinnamon and brown sugar coated rim) and the Green Dragon (Plymouth Gin, Absinthe, crème de menth muddled with fresh pear). But the Thaikiri (Thai rum shaken with fresh lime juice and mango) and the Benja Aguave (Sauza Hornitos Tequila, lime juice, sugar passion fruit juice) were real nice too.
Located at 17 Beak Street just off Regents Street, Benja is an intimate and attractive space. Its subtle lighting, calming stone Buddha and minimalistic approach to the Southeast Asian aesthetic sets a delightful tone. Open Monday to Saturday (lunch served noon-3pm and dinner from 6pm-11pm), Benja offers a set lunch menu priced at £12.95 for three courses and a four course dinner menu (including a glass of Champagne) for £30. Service on our visit was ridiculously speedy and very friendly.