A flamboyant taste of Thailand: What we thought of Royale Thai in Sunderland

As presentation goes, it doesn’t get much more colourful than the dish I ordered at Royale Thai.

Saturday, 9th November 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 9th November 2019, 8:00 am
Royale Thai, Mary Street, Sunderland
Royale Thai, Mary Street, Sunderland

On a rainy Friday night, my mains choice of pineapple fried rice with king prawns, served in a half a hollow pineapple, proved a totally tropical taste.

It’s been a couple of years since I last visited this Thai hot spot, which opened in the former Royal Mail parcel collection office in Mary Street – hence the Royale in the name.

We were one of only three tables with diners, but the cheery waiter said we’d just missed the Happy Hour rush, which runs from noon until 6.30pm and lures people in with its purse-pleasing three courses for £9.99 offer. Despite the jaunty Thai music and really friendly service, the atmosphere was a little lacklustre, but I imagine it’s better at peak times.

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Dim Sum starter at Royale Thai

Interior-wise, it’s a large site, much bigger than it looked when you used to queue for your parcels, and would be ideal for group and family outings. Decor is as you would expect from a Thai restaurant, all deep reds, mahogany and traditional scenes of Thailand.

The interiors may be a little unremarkable, but there’s a kaleidoscope of variety on the menu, which includes sections devoted to gluten-free and vegetarian, such as papaya salad, sweetcorn cakes and tofu and mixed vegetable soup.

I chose from the standard menu, also available as take away and delivery, which offers an impressive array of traditional dishes, such as jungle curry, steamed seabass, noodle soups, salads and more, created by Thai chefs.

I had the Dim Sum to start (£7.99), which was well presented in a traditional bamboo steamer with a lotus flower-shaped carved vegetable on the side. The five tightly-packed parcels were bursting with flavour and incredibly moreish as I dunked them in the accompanying, satisfyingly sticky, sauce – they were as good as I’ve eaten them in the Far East.

Pineapple and prawn stir-fried rice at Royale Thai

I also relished the fun presentation of my mains, in the aforementioned half a pineapple. At £16.99, it was pricier than the popular happy hour choices but I thoroughly enjoyed its medley of flavours.

The stir-fried rice wasn’t too greasy, as is often the case, and was punctuated with plenty of king prawns, chicken, peas, onions, mixed peppers and yellow curry powdered cashew nuts. I avoid pineapple on pizza like the plague, but warm pineapple here added an extra kick of flavour.

Providing you’re not planning to kiss anyone that night, make sure to order the side of lip-tingling salt and chilli chips (£4), which really pack a punch and lingers long after you leave the restaurant. Another hats off for the service too, which was some of the friendliest in the city.

Parking is an ongoing problem for city centre restaurants, but this one has a limited number of spots at the back, which are free after 6pm.