Cast your mind back to early 2002, when Leeds was a very different place to the city it is today. Back then, the cool kids went shopping at the Corn Exchange, clubbers headed to Majestyk and Townhouse, and diners flocked to the likes of Cuban Heels and Maxi’s Chinese Restaurant for a taste of global cuisine.
There were very few Thai restaurants in the UK at that time, never mind Leeds, but one woman seized the opportunity to fill the gap and hasn’t looked back since. Ban Kaewkraikhot opened her very first Sukhothai restaurant (named after the small-town north of Bangkok where she was raised) in Chapel Allerton in April 2002, bringing with her a lifetime passion for Thai cuisine which began at an early age with her mother’s cooking in rural Thailand.
Paired with first-class service and a sumptuous setting, Sukhothai proved to be both exotic and irresistible, and word of mouth spread across Yorkshire like wildfire. The people of Leeds were instantly hooked, an iconic brand was born and the rest as they say, is history.
Fast forward to 2022 and Ban and her team have opened two more Sukhothai restaurants, including central Leeds and Harrogate, launched a successful casual-dining brand (Zaap Thai, due to open their sixth site in Sheffield this May), won countless awards and survived a global pandemic. It’s been quite the journey.
Sukhothai is celebrating its milestone birthday by doing what they do best, cooking up exceptionally good Thai cuisine that’s meticulously authentic. And loyal customers who’ve been there since the beginning are in for a special treat, as the Chapel Allerton restaurant is marking the occasion with a special menu that includes a selection of bestselling specials from their very first menu.
Classic Sukhothai specials
The limited-edition menu will be available for 20 days between 26th April and 15th May, allowing guests to step back in time to enjoy some classic Sukhothai specials that have since been discontinued.
Dishes making a comeback include the Gae Kiew Wan Gata Lon, succulent lamb stir-fried with green curry paste, sweet basil, lime leaves, green beans and chilli, served on a sizzling hot plate. The Som Tum Supparod Pla Tod consists of crispy haddock served with a spicy Som Tum salad and fruity pineapple.
Also back is the Mee Krob, a simple yet delicious dish consisting of crispy noodles, bean sprouts, spring onion and coriander. Last but not least is the legendary Sukhothai Seafood Platter, which is a feast for all senses with its generous assortment of satay prawns, satay fish, crispy squid and mussels.
Of course, Sukhothai’s latest seasonal menu will also be available, boasting the perfect blend of classic and modern Thai cuisine that has become part of the brand's DNA for two decades.
Sukhothai Founder, Ban has become one of the city’s most respected restauranteurs, with employees, customers, and her peers all drawn to her magnetic personality and boundless enthusiasm for food and entertaining.
Speaking of the forthcoming birthday, Ban said: "Leeds has been my home for over 20 years now, and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved at Sukhothai since our humble beginnings back in 2002. Leeds is a fantastic city, full of warm and welcoming people, and one of the most diverse food scenes you’ll find in the world.
"I’m also lucky enough to call so many customers and team members my friends. I’ve been part of countless engagements, birthdays, graduations and seen children grow up into young adults.
"I’m eternally grateful to everyone that has supported me over the years and can’t wait to see our most loyal and longstanding customers enjoy our special birthday menu. Removing some of these classic specials from our menu wasn’t always an easy decision, but we always aim to evolve at Sukhothai, and our customers appreciate this.
"The Seafood Platter, in particular, will be welcomed back with open arms, I’ve had so many customers ask when it’s coming back. I look forward to seeing you all, to raise a glass to 20 years. Here’s to the next 20!"