I have a soft spot for Sabai Sabai. Its a place that I have rekindled a gentle love again for with frequent revisits at a period in my life where I seldom eat at the same place twice. I can walk there, eat well for a modest amount and stumble back home. And I often do. The location in Moseley is small and comforting, with a waiting team who permanently look happy to be working there. They must be fed a lot of the food. Its serious cooking with its heart in the right part of the world and an eye on affordability. There are other places to find Thai food in Birmingham. None are as good Sabai Sabai.
I was invited to eat there to celebrate Loy Krathong, a festival that I am ignorant enough to know nothing about, which coincided with eating the planned Christmas menu, a festival I know a little too much of. I have previously written about the virtues of the cooking here, so I will spare you the minute details and say that once again every dish served sparkled with the core principals of Thai cuisine. A mixed platter started it off with the most handsome of chicken satay and unctuous pork spare ribs. There were crab cakes, spiked with heat and tasting of crustacean instead of mashed potato, which reminded me that that in the right hands they can be a killer starter. Best of all were perfectly timed scallops with garlic and peppers that had me emptying the last of the shells juices on to a prawn cracker.
Seabass is served in a similar sauce to the scallops and is just as remarkable. The delicate flakes of fish fold away from each other and more than hold there own against the gentle aromatics and more punchy hits of garlic and chilli. Its about as good as Thai food gets. Curls of monkfish hide green beans wrapped in aubergine. Its the yellow curry sauce that lifts the dish with high notes of ginger and the comfort of coconut milk.
I’m a sucker for duck meat. Show me crispy skin and I am yours. Honestly, you just try it. Here is no different, with sweet meat and skin that cracks on impact. Fried shallots and pak choi are there to provide both ends of the textural scale, with a tamarind sauce adding more sweet and sour interplay.
There was dessert, but I was too busy dreaming of the duck to take pictures or notes. No usual score out of ten this time, as I only gave them the major thumbs up five months ago. This time it just a major endorsement of what they have to offer. The Christmas menu is £25 for three courses, which is incredible value for what is a far more interesting prospect than some overcooked turkey in a chain pub. At this price it is not a question of if you should go, but when. I’m already booked up to go in December, and so should you.
I was invited on this occasion and did not see a bill