Tiien Thai in Bournemouth - restaurant review

One of the dining areas

One of the dining areas - Credit: Archant

This Bournemouth restaurant excels at balancing the subtle flavours, aromatic spices and varying heat of authentic Thai cuisine, as John Billington discovers

One of Tiien's beautifully presented starters

One of Tiien's beautifully presented starters - Credit: Archant

I fear I’m old enough to remember the arrival of the first pop-up Thai restaurant in west London in the late Seventies. It was a traditional café during the day and served fabulous Thai food in the evening. After a couple of delirious reviews in the Evening Standard and a flurry of word of mouth recommendations it became the place to eat. Now Thai restaurants are rightly recognised as a major feature of the British dining experience and Bournemouth’s Tiien Thai is a splendid example of this fabulous cuisine.

This fine restaurant is the real deal and regular diners come from across the South to sample high quality authentic Thai cuisine. Charming waitresses in Thai national costume guide you to your table of choice. To the left is a busy bistro style dining area and to the right there is a more secluded feel, with intimate pods where drapes can be drawn, though larger groups may also be accommodated here. Medi, the vastly experienced owner, has complete understanding of different diners’ needs, be it for gluten free or a careful guide to the heat of the dishes.

I sipped a refreshing Long Island Iced Tea while choosing from the extensive menu and my wife Tracie sampled an Amazing Thai cocktail that was pretty, pink and packed a punch. It’s often the little things that make a difference and the accompanying prawn crackers were the best we’ve tasted. Although tempted by our old favourites of spicy aromatic duck or one of the indulgent sharing platters, we plumped for starters of a sweetcorn cake with a cucumber relish for Tracie and a spicy fisherman’s soup for me. I practised my very limited Thai by asking for it to be ‘my ped’, a handy phrase meaning not too hot, and the dish was a perfumed delight - perfectly cooked squid, mussels, bass and prawns had imbued the essence of holy basil and lemon grass.

We both drank Singhe, the real Thai beer, although the wine list does offer a good selection. The beer was perfect with our main courses, which included the justly iconic Thai green curry. It’s one of those dishes that many amateurs present with a nervous flourish, but this is where they should come for a master class. The precise balance of kaffir lime, chillies, basil and coconut milk gave great depth to the meltingly tender beef. We also went for a happy walk down memory lane with a classic sea bass with sweet and sour sauce and a bowl of fragrant jasmine rice.

A variety of ice creams is often the recommended end to a Thai meal and the seductively named Love Basket and Mishti Mango were tempting, but we chose the refreshing tropical fruit platter.

With complete commitment to presenting the very best Thai cuisine and with adaptability to all tastes, Tiien Thai is the ideal restaurant for all lovers of good food.

Tiien Thai, 105 St Michael’s Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5DU; 01202 299412; tiienthairestaurant.co.uk.

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• Vegetarian Yellow Curry with tofu and vegetables £8.95

• Phad Thai: Thai noodles with bean sprouts, spring onions and sweet turnips with choice of vegetable, tiger prawns, pork, beef or chicken from £8.95


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