review by Janine Pulford
If you’re looking for authentic Thai flavours, a must-visit restaurant is Tiien, which means candle in Thai.
The latest eatery in the string of Tiien restaurants has recently opened at 65 Seabourne Road, Bournemouth.
Ben and I visited midweek. Having battled through lashing rain to get there, it took us completely by surprise to find the restaurant full and people also eating in the bar area, which was where our table was.
Ning welcomed us with prawn crackers and hot chilli sauce. She manages the restaurant and makes working front of house look effortless.
The interior has an organic feel with green walls, woven lampshades, polished wood and exposed brickwork. This relaxing setting prepares you for some of the most naturally fragrant and delicate flavours from Thailand.
A comprehensive menu is clearly presented and there are set menu options, for a minimum of two people.
Deep-fried sweetcorn cake and tempura mixed vegetables, with sweet chilli sauce got us off to a great start. We shared. Crunchy vegetables were delicately coated with light and crispy tempura batter. In contrast, the sweetcorn cakes had density, were crunchy on the outside and the creamy filling contained pieces of corn. We could also dip into cucumber and chilli relish and a thicker peanut sauce. I loved the contrasting flavour of the garnish, which included large sprigs of parsley.
Ning thought we might like to try crispy seaweed, and it took our starters to the next level with its umami flavour, salty tang, vibrant green colour and crisp texture. It’s also super healthy being nutrient-rich. What we didn’t finish, we held over for our mains.
I chose the wonderfully named Fish Choo Chee. The sea bass fillet was deep-fried with a crispy skin and coated in a rich sauce containing coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, tamarind juice and chillis. The sublime flavour combination paired well with the generous portion and delicious white flesh of the perfectly cooked fish and I also had a bowl of jasmine rice.
Ben ordered a hot Chicken Phad Kee Mao: stir-fried rice noodles with chillies, tomatoes, onions and basil leaves. It was very spicy and full of flavour pops including peppercorns, red and green chillis. The chicken and vegetables added texture to the soft noodles.
We felt comfortably full, so to round off the evening, we shared vanilla ice cream, knowing how sweet and filling some of the Thai desserts can be.
This latest Tiien restaurant with its unique flavours has firmly established a corner of Thailand in Bournemouth and has proved its success within weeks of opening. Booking is highly recommended and essential at weekends.
If you like to park right outside a restaurant, this could be an issue. We managed to get a decent spot on Seabourne Road and the short walk didn’t phase us. To be honest, I found a bit of exercise was a bonus after a thoroughly good Thai meal.