Originally a gentleman’s club and then the Royal Conservatory of Music, the building that now houses the Thai restaurant Chaophraya sits across the street from St. George’s Tron along Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Scotland — a long pedestrian stretch of dining options, unlimited shopping, street performers of varying degrees of talent, and countless architectural wonders commonly referred to as the Style Mile.
Yet another day of sporadic drizzle in Scotland’s largest city canceled my idea of people-watching in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area. So I popped inside instead and was immediately impressed. Opened in 2012 as Europe’s largest Thai restaurant, Chaophraya (which takes its name from one of Thailand’s major rivers) features four separate dining areas as well as a VIP whisky bar, serving up more than 100 different brands. It simultaneously gives a respectful nod to the building’s past, with white marble busts of the greatest composers (Beethoven, Bach, etc.), and its present, with golden Thai deities standing in niches.
Upstairs, the smiling hostess seated me in the main dining area — the building’s original ballroom. I alternated my attention between the high, plaster-carved ceiling, tall windows, and small balcony, and the waitresses wearing long black skirts with a high side split and short silk orange aprons. Bangkok seemed to be calling, but so did my appetite, so I finally focused on the generous menu.
Try This: Order up an appetizer of deep-fried sweetcorn cakes blended with red curry paste served with sweet chili sauce, or try the cod and coley fish cakes blended with green beans, lime leaves, and red curry paste. For the main course, the chicken marinated with honey, lemongrass, and coriander root, grilled and topped with peanut sauce, served with egg noodles and vegetable relish, and sprinkled with black sesame seeds, is unbeatable, but just as tempting is the char-grilled sea bass fillets wrapped in banana leaves with coriander root, lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves, and served with fresh chili and lime sauce. End your meal with a traditional Thai dessert, either the bananas in sweet coconut milk, or the always popular Thai pancakes — the country’s real street food — with three different traditional fillings.