East London Food & Culture


Singburi: UK’s 73rd best restaurant beats St John and The River Cafe

Leytonstone's a winner. And Stratford's excellent Allegra enters the Top 50

The annual Top 100 National Restaurant Awards took place last night and, of the dozen selected in East London, congrats to E11’s very own Singburi, who made it to an impressive #73 in the UK for the first time ever in its long history.

Let’s put that into context: Sessions Art Club (read my review here), one of the capital’s hottest openings in the last five years, only managed one position higher (at #72), and Singburi even beat Clerkenwell’s legendary St John (at #74) and seminal restaurant The River Cafe (at #76). Not to mention the multi-garlanded Quo Vadis (#83), Lyle’s (86) and The Frenchie (#94). Cripes.

“Chef Sirichai Kularbwong’s Thai restaurant has become a culinary cult classic,” declared the judges, who comprise a selection of chefs, restaurateurs, critics and general bigwigs. “In a first for this list the restaurant is fully BYO, with management only asking that guests take their empties away when they leave.”

The dining room: don’t be fooled, every table is booked. Photo: Stephen Emms

It’s also among “the most affordable restaurants to have ever graced this list,” they said. “Singburi has built a cult following for its bracingly-authentic Thai cooking.  The family-run restaurant, in more recent years, has started to make the transition from hidden local gem to a restaurant that people are willing to travel some distance for.”


It’s perhaps “best known for its blackboard, which lists dishes more adventurous dishes that one would be unlikely to come across in a common-or-garden UK Thai restaurant.”

And locals know how damn good the moo krob (crispy pork belly with chilli and basil) is, and the best-clams-ever (see pic below). We’re also fans of the rich creamy jungle prawn curry, and, as for the pea stalks in cashew milk and fermented tofu (pic below)? Well, that was arguably our best dish ever (for more evidence read this). And while you’re at it, you could tuck into our first ever Singburi review back in 2017 here, too.

A selection of dishes on a recent visit. Photo: SE

A downside, if there is one? “It’s worth checking opening hours before you visit as it’s only open a few nights a week and bookings are only taken by phone,” the judges warn.

And don’t we just know it. Although, it has to be said, we feel a little smug that we have a booking in a couple of weeks’ time: good luck getting through now, people.

The pistachio chicken liver parfait choux buns at Allegra. Photo: SE

Elsewhere in the list, it’s good to see another local restaurant, Stratford’s mighty Allegra, at a lofty #49, a deservedly high position: their excellent new daily tasting menu is undoubtedly a pay-day treat but, at £58 for 7 courses, far cheaper than many similar examples in this city (read my recent review of this here).

And finally, while some other personal faves include Cafe Cecilia, Brat and the French House, Bethnal Green’s relatively new Da Terra (in the Town Hall) is the highest scoring East London restaurant at #3. Another one to add to the bucket list, then. But first, it’s time to sweat it out on a sizzling Wanstead Flats.

Stephen Emms is founder of Leytonstoner and writes about food & travel for The Guardian, Sunday Times, Rough Guides and more (@stephenemms).

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