To me, there’s nothing quite as satisfying than sampling a variety of delicious Thai dishes, freshly cooked with plenty of flavour. New restaurant Giggling Squid ticks all the boxes: it packs a real punch with its beautiful décor and amazing food, serving up an array of more unique dishes alongside the old favourites (I love to try new things but will never tire of a Masaman Curry).
I was lucky enough to have the Giggling Squid experience last night, and have fallen utterly under its spell!
Top image: Duck Spring Rolls at Giggling Squid
Image: inside the Giggling Squid restaurant in Norwich
When you walk into the Giggling Squid, I challenge you not to just stand and stare for a moment, and take in the beautiful surroundings you’ve just found yourself in. Though the restaurant is housed in a gorgeous listed building with stained-glass windows looking out onto Tombland (right in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter), the interior remains a bit of an mystery until you step inside…
Dark wooden beams are wrapped in vines and other foliage, and there’s an amazing pagoda covered in delicate flowers; in fact the whole space is an amazing blend of the modern, with muted grey and white walls, and the rustic, with wooden flooring and bronze chandeliers bearing candlesticks. It all feels very light and airy despite the many beautiful accents and decorations dotted around… you almost feel like you’re in a Country Living-style forest!
Image: Thai G&T at Giggling Squid
Upon being seated, my attention was turned to the drinks menu, featuring wines, beers, bubbles and - my favourite part - a carefully-curated selection of cocktails. Between the two of us we sampled a Thai G&T (using Kaffir lime leaf and ginger infused London dry gin; refreshing but strong – one to really settle in for the evening with!) and a Hibiscus Spritz (a lovely summery cocktail of Hibiscus-infused vodka with strawberries and rosé wine, topped with soda). Both were delicious, different and, considering their quality, surprisingly reasonably-priced at £6.95 each.
Image: mixed Sharing Platter at Giggling Squid
Now, on to the food! Being unable to choose just one starter we plumped for the Sharing Platter, a generous mix of starter dishes including Thai fish cakes, vegetable spring rolls, salt and pepper squid and grilled pork. It was a truly tasty start to the meal, with the spring rolls and salt and pepper squid being my favourites (though it was a close contest). You know you’re onto something when the squid falls apart in your mouth – no toughness here!
We could have carried on eating the Sharing Platter forever, but there were also a mouth-watering selection of starters to pick from if you fancy something else, including Sesame King Prawns, Seared Scallops, Chicken Satay, Vegetable Tempura…
Image: Sea Bass Pad Cha at Giggling Squid
When speaking to our waiter, he mentioned that some of the dishes were a little more unusual, and might not be found as readily in other Thai restaurants. Taking this on board, we decided to go for one of the more ‘classic’ dishes, Red Duck Curry, and a slightly more unusual one – the Sea Bass Pad Cha, something I’d never heard of before despite doing a spot of travelling earlier that year round some of Thailand. They sounded intriguing, so we ordered both dishes along with sides of sticky rice and vegetable egg noodles.
The Red Duck Curry was an amazingly rich blend of creaminess and sweetness, with succulent Duck to really soak up the flavour. If you’ve tried this before elsewhere, but with chicken, duck or vegetables, give the duck a go instead and you’ll find that the dish is elevated to the next level! Giggling Squid serve this dish with a range of options: chicken, prawn, vegetable, duck and – something I will definitely be returning to try out – squid! With the sticky rice it was absolutely delicious and I can’t really imagine anyone not enjoying this!
The sea bass packed a real punch; the flavours were amazing and it had a touch of spiciness to it - just the right amount! The fish itself was perfectly cooked, with an edge of slightly smokey crispiness that added some crunch, and the blend of aromatic Thai spices and herbs in the sauce made this a really fresh dish that I hadn’t tried elsewhere.
This is where I wish that my already large appetite was even bigger (or perhaps that my stomach could extend even more than it did); there was just so many amazing dishes that I struggled to choose just one or two. Other dishes that really caught my eye included Sea Bream with Green Curry, Fishing Village (mixed seafood with spicy red curry), the classic Pad Thai, Ginger Soy Scallops and Cashew Nut Stir Fry – plus many more.
Image: lunchtime tapas-style dishes at Giggling Squid
If you think you’d face the same conundrum, and really want to try everything, then their lunch menu (not served in the evening) sounds like a perfect option! Following a tapas-style structure, the lunch menu offers a range of small plates – including Lamb Massaman Curry, Thai Pork Dumplings, Tom Yum Chicken and Sleeping Honey Duck, to name but a few – all ideal for sampling and trying new flavours. They also offer a great choice of ‘Tapas Sets’, each consisting of three dishes and a portion of Jasmine Rice to accompany them. The Starving Squid, for example, includes Chicken Red Curry, Thai Pork Dumplings, Thai Spring Rolls and Jasmine Rice, whilst the Vegetarian comes with Vegetable Green Curry, Stir Fried Vegetables with Ginger, Thai Spring Rolls and Jasmine Rice. There are six Tapas Sets to choose from in total, each looking equally delicious – it all depends what mood you’re in!
Image: Chocolate Feuillantine at Giggling Squid
Despite feeling super full, I opted for a dessert of course - who can resist something sweet to finish the meal off? Not me! They have some unusual and tasty looking ice cream and sorbet flavours including Black Sesame Flavour, Brighton Rose Yoghurt Ice Cream (a nod to their roots; the first Giggling Squid restaurant opened in Brighton in 2002), Lemongrass & Basil Sorbet and Banana & Honey Ice Cream – a very unique selection! However, I decided to opt for a more traditional dessert of Chocolate Feuillantine (I just couldn’t resist the chocolate at this point!) which is a divine chocolate mousse – definitely recommended! If you’d rather, you can finish your meal with a drink – there are plenty of choice including the usual suspects as well as other interesting options including handmade lotus flower and jasmine tea, Irish Coffee and Green Tea with Lemongrass.
It should also be noted that there are a great range of veggie dishes (there’s even a separate, vegetarian-only menu at lunch and dinner) as well as meat, fish and gluten-free options available – just ask your server and they’ll be able to advise. Plus, if you can't make it to the restaurant itself they offer an extensive takeaway menu to enjoy at home - view the takeaway menu online here - so everyone can enjoy a part of the Giggling Squid experience, even at home!
It’s not just the amazing food that makes Giggling Squid stand out; it’s the attentive service, lovely drinks and gorgeous décor which, altogether, make this the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner in. There’s a great atmosphere and plenty of space to cater larger parties in, too. Give it a go - you won’t be disappointed!