Jaguar Fungsa savours in exotic food for the budget-conscious Fresher
Must-try: Massaman curry, Drunken fried rice
Good for: Lunch with friends after lectures
Your first experience of food at UCL will likely be underwhelming to say the least. The Refectory, a newly opened canteen (replacing the much loved Jeremy Bentham room) is a poor excuse for lunch. While serving affordable food (with plates ranging from £3 to £5) to the cash-strapped fresher is commendable, you can find similarly priced food off-campus that doesn’t sacrifice quality for price.
That’s where Thai Metro comes in, a restaurant just 10 minutes away from the main UCL Bloomsbury campus. It is located on Charlotte Street, a road known for its wide array of international cuisine and is a favourite spot for UCL students; so popular infact we have reviewed another restaurant just across the road.
Turning left on the corner between Charlotte and Mortimer Street will bring you to a Georgian building with a colourful green façade. This is Thai Metro. Walking in through the front door you’ll be greeted by beautiful wooden décors and dimly lit rooms. Service is usually quick, with the server bringing you two menus: the lunch and the all-day menu. The lunch menu is the best value option, with the one course meal costing just £6.50, while the two and three course options are £8.50 and £10.50 respectively. I would recommend the two course meal since it also comes with an appetiser. However, if you’re not that hungry, or are trying to cut back on expenses, then the one course meal should suffice.
In terms of the authenticity of the food, the restaurant fulfills the main criteria of what Thai food should be i.e. the balance of four major flavours: sweet, salty, spicy and sour. The ingredients and vegetables taste fresh and crunchy in what is my opinion the restaurant’s premier dish, the Massaman curry, eaten with either steamed or coconut rice. The dish is similar to the more well known Red Curry. However, what differentiates it is the use of peanuts , cinnamon and star anise, ingredients which are more commonly found in Middle-Eastern cuisines. This makes it distinctively unique from other curries which tend to use galangal and lemongrass.
The other outstanding dishes found on the menu include the Drunken Fried Rice (fried-rice with basil, egg and a meat of your choice), the perennial favourite Pad-Thai noodle, and the bite-sized Fish cakes which are offered as an appetiser with the two and three course meals.
Many dishes come with a vegetarian option, just ask them for tofu instead of chicken/beef in your Green curry. Luckily, I had a chance to try the Tofu Pad Thai and it was definitely on par with the pork version. Their dessert menu is a little lacking, with few options to choose from, ranging from the quintessential Mango Sorbet to the deep-fried Banana fritters .
All in all, what makes this establishment so popular is the combination of taste, variety, and the cost of the food, making it one of the best places near UCL to have lunch after an exhausting morning lecture.
38 Charlotte St
London W1T 2NN