There was a time more than a decade (and the rest) ago when Thai Orchid in Preston's Cannon Street was my restaurant of choice practically every other week.
My taste buds yearned for the tastes of my travels across the Asian continent and as I put in the hours as a much younger journalist, it was the go-to for my friends and I when we wanted a reliable, tasty, nosh-up to boost our regular diet of instant noodles, takeaway curry and beer.
It was our big treat
Spice plus wine, what more could a recovering student and backpacker possibly want?
Thai Orchid also boasted the advantage of a Preston city centre location and a reasonable price point.
And as a nut allergy sufferer I always found as they cooked their food fresh and as long as I stuck to the stir-fries, I was as safe as I would get eating out.
It’s always a bit of a lottery, but that’s a story for another day.
But house moves, jobs moves, and the general intervention of life has meant that it has been a long, long, time since I’ve rocked up for a Gai Pad Krapow - it couldn’t possibly be on the menu after all the this time, surely?
In fact , if I’m honest, I didn’t even realise the family-run Thai Orchid was still open until my partner, unfamiliar with the good old days of yore, asked me if I wanted to try it - he was very pleased with his discovery.
So we booked in a table for four, my two friends also astonished to find Thai Orchid was indeed still going despite the intervention of time and in their case, two children.
Safe to say and to use an over-used phrase, it is a hidden gem.
Tucked away down Preston’s Cannon Street, just down from the main artery of Fishergate and just a few steps from Winckley Square, it is important to note that unlike the good old days Thai Orchid is now only open on Fridays and Saturdays, though you can also order food to take away on those days and pop to pick it up.
The decor is old-school traditional high-level kitsch, sporting pops of pink and red and the obligatory dragons.
Frankly, it’s a nice retreat from the overly trendy modern Asian restaurants so popular today.
And I’d much rather the management’s attention was firmly on the food.
This, of course, was why I was there and as soon as I opened the menu I realised the choices, as well as the decor and to my surprise the prices, haven’t changed much at all.
Yet it was with some trepidation I ordered my old favourites, Pobpia Pug Tord (£6.95)- vegetable spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce to start and of course a Gai Pad Krapow - a spicy stir-fried chicken with Thai hot basil, chilli, spring onions and oyster sauce (£10.95). I accompanied this with Kow Pad Kai, a Thai egg-fried rice. (£3.45)
There was a chance it was be shadow of my memories but no - it was a taste-sensation triumph.
Light and yet incredibly satisfying, they were the dishes my taste buds remembered well.
Large, delicious, portions were a theme for all of us .
The others enjoyed Tord Mun, chicken or fish cakes blended with Thai spices (£6.85), Gai Soi Song - chicken balls blended with Thai spices and See Krong Moo (6.95)- a massive portion of Thai-style spare ribs marinated in honey, pepper and garlic.
All were delicious but the latter not advisable for messy souls wearing white.
My friends main courses were an equal hit, consisting of Gang ped Gai, a fragrant Thai red curry (£11.45), Nuea pad Krapow, a spicy stir-fried beef with chilli and basil (£11.95) and Ped Ohn Num Peung, a beautiful looking (and tasting) roast duck marinated in honey and sweet spices in sauce served on a bed of Thai leaves. (£13.95)
All of the above was accompanied by a mix of both the egg-fried and traditional Thai fragrant steamed rice -Kao Plaow - the latter at £3.25 a aportion.
A perfectly acceptable wine-list saw us enjoying a glass of two with our dishes and plentiful water was provided for those who accidentally ate a chilli hotter than anticipated. Which was all of us as we sampled each other dishes.
Thai Orchid remains a little oasis for Thai-food lovers.
You don’t get a modern a nd trendy setting but a traditional-feel , small, restaurant with the emphasis on freshly-cooked, reliably delicious food at very decent prices and with a friendly service.
And you are just a hop and skip from Preston’s main bars.
All of our reviews are paid for and undertaken anonymously.
You can visit the Thai Orchid website HERE