Original Thai concept restaurant set in the heart of Peckham

Original Thai concept restaurant set in the heart of Peckham

04.10.17

On any foggy morning in Chiang Mai, the creeping scent of spices and sugar from street vendor stalls mingles with the approach of orange clad monks, chanting while they carry their alms pots. The vessel –called a ‘begging bowl’ – is an important part of Thai culture hailing back to Buddhist traditions of making merit and the community spirit it inspires is fascinating to witness. 

It is this ethos that we hope to embody in our own corner of South London. To us, The Begging Bowl enshrines a sense of community, and of sharing, both with Peckham and the Thai friends and family which inspired our foundations. 


HISTORY

The Begging Bowl opened its doors in 2012, offering heady, authentic Thai flavours sourced directly from grocers in Bangkok coupled with fresh fish and meat from local suppliers. Sitting on a prime corner plot with a beautiful open terrace, The Begging Bowl has become part of the community in Peckham and we’re proud to have created a friendly, vibrant space where locals come regularly to enjoy great food and homely service.

The inspiration for our food comes from every province of Thailand. We explore all the wonderful regionality of Thai food, from the creamy curries of the Muslim south to the fiery grilled meats from Issan in the North East. 

We use specialist ingredients such as hog plum, rambutan, rose apple, banana blossoms and apple aubergines and source them fresh to retain their flavor, rather than waiting for them to go into storage like many ingredients imported from Asia. 
We’re extremely happy to source many of our Thai ingredients from fellow Nahm graduates, Bo.lan in Bangkok who are dedicated to finding the best produce in Thailand.

When you come to the restaurant you’ll experience the vibrant and complex tastes that balance the classic Thai flavour palate of hot, sour, sweet and salty. Every detail is thought of and every component is made from scratch in our kitchens. (The Begging Bowl inherited from Nahm what we think is still the only coconut press in the UK – we call it “Kuno” – and we use it to press all our fresh coconut cream.)

All our dishes come as small sharing plates, with unlimited glutinous and jasmine rice, so people can enjoy their food together just as friends and family do all over Thailand. 

Our drinks also reflect our passion for combining the East and West. Head bartender, David Hewitt-Dutton and our small team of talented barmen painstakingly create each of our cocktails from homemade ingredients such as lemongrass infused whisky, Thai basil bitters and barrel aged negroni – which can take up three months to produce. 

The menu includes a ‘Kaffir Sour’ featuring kaffir lime-infused gin made on site using lemongrass, lime and our own kaffir bitters and a ‘Thai Sabai’ with lime, sugar, basil, basil bitters (also made on-site) and Mekong Thai Spirit.


WHY WE ARE HERE

The Begging Bowl was borne from a passion to recreate the real flavours of Thailand in London, something Head Chef Jane Alty and business partner Jamie Younger felt was sorely lacking. 

Jane and Jamie share a strong passion for Thai food and great flavours: Jamie, formerly of Bibendum and The Wolseley, also owns and runs The Palmerston, itself a stalwart on the East Dulwich gastro-dining scene.

Jane had previously worked at some of the top restaurants in London but fell in love  with the complexity of Thai cuisine when she spent four years working with legendary Thai chef, David Thompson at the Michelin-starred London outpost of Thai restaurant Nahm ( #22 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and a regular #1 spot on Asia’s best restaurant lists). 

Jane is acknowledged in David’s seminal book ‘Thai Street Food’ and she has made regular trips to Thailand throughout most of her life.

While there she spends a lot of time with her extended Thai family, who live on the outskirts of Bangkok. From them she learned their favourite recipes such as pork balls with roasted rice, lime leaf and red curry paste served with fermented pork and crackling. It has given Jane invaluable insight into Thai culture and how to cook this deeply complex and demanding cuisine.


COMMUNITY

Every year the Begging Bowl sets aside a budget to support local and international charities. Through the months of September and October, we are actively supporting our chosen charity, Action Against Hunger (link to website).