Gem Hunter Review: Thaikun, Cambridge, England A couple of days before Ramadhan started this year, my friend suggested visiting a newly opened Thai restaurant – as expected I jumped at this offer! We had not booked a table as it was only the two of us and did not expect to wait long and…we didn’t (score!). We were directed to a table within five minutes despite the restaurant looking quite busy. Outside the restaurant was parked a cute and colourful rickshaw – perfect for the photo enthusiasts like myself. However my stomach’s sing song noises made me resist the urge to sit in it and take a picture. The decor was bright, colourful, quirky and had a happy feel to it. It had a street cafe/stall vibe which I think is what they were going for. On one wall there were old televisions stacked on top of each other, on another old newspaper cuttings and one another half a parasol with lights hanging from it. Everywhere I looked there were different and unique items/furnishing to see and I felt like I was somewhere abroad- I loved it! It made me grin from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. My friend has a talent for picking the right food that we both like on the menu so I sat back and took in the atmosphere of the restaurant while she chose. The atmosphere was lively, relaxed and happy. For drinks my friend chose a fruit juice cocktail and I picked the iced green tea (which was recommended by the waiter) – I was feeling adventurous. The iced green tea was in one word…horrible. Not sure what I was thinking because I don’t like green tea at the best of times and the ice cold version was even worse! My friend also did not like her juice as it was more water than juice so I was disappointed at the quality of the drinks and the lack of non-alcoholic drink options. A welcome and happy surprise I had not anticipated was all the meat being Halal. I was planning to tunnel my vision to the fish and veggie options but not today – thanks Thaikun! With Ramadhan around the corner, we decided to eat as much as we could – Why not?! For starters we went for the Gai Satay (grilled satay chicken on skewers), Tom Yum (chicken and vegetable soup) and Som Tum (raw papaya salad) and these arrived about ten minutes after we had ordered them. The soup arrived with a small burner at the bottom to keep it warm, which was a really thoughtful touch. The soup was flavoursome, plentiful and had a great kick of chilli- exactly what I expected. The skewers unusually also came with slices of bread but these came in handy once we had inhaled the chicken and had left over satay sauce; which can only be described as fresh, light and authentic. It was not heavy (as some satay sauces can be). The raw papaya salad was my favourite dish, it was fresh, dripping with flavour and had the perfect collision of sweet, chilli and sour flavours. It was the spiciest starter but very moreish, I could not stop eating it! The starters were served in plastic/metal plates, which again confirmed the street food/stall feel they were going for – so a huge thumbs up from me for the starters. We were struggling to breathe a little at this point after the flavour insult we had experienced but were excited and ready for the main course. For mains, my friend chose ‘Panang Goong’ (prawn curry) and ‘Phad Thai Gai’ with beef. We cheekily asked if we could change the chicken (advertised in the menu) to beef as we had already had chicken in the soup and have sticky rice instead of the jasmine rice advertised. The waitress was hesitant to do so at first but eventually asked the Chef who said it was fine, however we were charged a little extra for it. The mains were not as impressive as the starters but were still tasty and flavoursome. The curry was a little bland but tasted great with the sticky rice. The Pad Thai was again tasty, flavoursome and moreish – I loved the surprise peanuts I found, which really added an element of texture to the dish. We unashamedly and unsurprisingly practically licked the dishes clean. Verdict: I would definitely go again I loved the unique decor, atmosphere and the majority of food I had tasted and would definitely go again to sample some regional specials especially since it is halal – which is a great find for Cambridge. My only criticism were the drinks and maybe portion size: I wanted more! Food: 8.5/10 Ambience: lively Decor: unique, quirky and colourful Service: good and efficient Value for money: Yes – considering we ordered 5 dishes and 2 drinks Price: ££ About Gem Hunter Shifa Shifa has been interested in food for as long as she can remember. She enjoys finding new places to eat, either expensive and chic, homely or a hole in the wall that serves amazing grub. Nothing upsets her more than bad food and long nails.