Where To Go When You Can’t Get Into Singburi

Excellent options to fill the gap as you look forward to your Singburi booking in three month's time.
A spread of dishes from Dilara.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

London’s best restaurant is also the hardest to book. Shocking, isn’t it? Singburi is refreshingly old-school and wonderfully inflexible when it comes to making a booking. None of that online stuff, thank you very much. These days, you can only book on a Wednesday. And that involves calling, DMing, and praying to at least two divine powers for an answer. But until that comes off—and you should never give up, trust us—there are a few restaurants that can scratch a not dissimilar itch for great Thai food or Singburi's frenetic, glasses-clinking, big-group-gathering energy.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:LunchDining SoloCasual Weeknight Dinner
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With its Barbie-pink walls and unforgiving gaeng som, 101 Thai Kitchen is a restaurant you can easily fall for. The Hammersmith canteen has the feel of an old-school haunt and the west London favourite is somewhere friends and families pile in to devour crisp hat yai fried chicken under the approving eyes of Thai nobility depicted in gold-framed portraits hanging on the wall. The menu dots around north eastern Thai cuisine—the homemade Isaan sausage is essential—and, like all the best Thai restaurants, is best enjoyed as part of a hungry crowd.

photo credit: Koray Firat

Some people like to fantasise about popping bottles in a club, but we prefer cracking open a screw top of savvy b with a pile of expertly grilled adana kofte in front of us. Mangal 1 is one of London’s go-to BYOB institutions, but this Dalston Turkish classic has so much more to it than non-existent corkage. The smells from the ocakbaşı grill out front waft into the dining room that’s rarely anything less than lively. Friday nights, 20-something birthdays, an unexpectedly raucous third date—you name it, and Mangal 1 can host it. Just be warned that on weekends it’s guaranteed to be heaving, so call ahead.

Like at Singburi, your table at Dilara should barely be visible. It should be peeking out from underneath enormous servings of big plate chicken, glossy legmen noodles, and piles of cumin-rubbed lamb skewers. And there should definitely be a few stains on it by the end. The Uyghur restaurant in Finsbury Park is a reliable big group spot—not just because it can easily fit a small army, but because its mix of Turkish, Sichuan, and Uyghur cuisine will please any palate. For midweek get-togethers you’re almost guaranteed to be fine to walk in, unless Arsenal are playing.

People go out of their way to get to Taste Of Pakistan. Piles of friends, families emerging from gleaming 4x4s in the driveway, and pretty much anyone who wants to eat some of London’s best Pashtun food. Much of this restaurant’s energy comes from Naseer—the guv’nor—who is Hounslow’s answer to both Phil Mitchell and Stanley Tucci. He moves around the gleaming white room checking in on your chapli kebab (crispy, juicy), asking if your Peshwari naan is big enough (billowing), and ladling kabli pulao (outstanding) for you. Lunch is a breeze but if you want to have a big blowout dinner, then booking is essential.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

What Dr.Noodle lacks in size it makes up for in broth. Specifically, its speciality beef noodle soup. There isn’t a great deal of seating in this Chinese noodle specialist in New Cross, and its walk-in only policy means that you might need to crack a beer outside before you can get a table, but it’s worth it. And, unlike turning up at Singburi hoping for a last-minute cancellation, you’ll get in. The two-person operation makes some of London’s best noodle soups alongside moreish frankfurter tian jing crepes, as well several exciting vegetable side dishes. True to its name, the unremarkable white-walled space feels like the waiting room of a broth-reliant GP. But if you’re after flavour, Dr.Noodle should be high up your list.

If Tayyabs is Whitechapel’s most famous BYOB party restaurant, then Lahore Kebab House is its less ostentatious relative. This modest Pakistani canteen is a go-to for friends, families, and London chefs alike, thanks in part to sizzling, gnawable lamb chops, but more for the relaxed atmosphere where everyone can feel comfortable. These aren’t the most perfectly cooked karahis in the world—though everything off the grill still hits the spot—but with cricket playing on screens in the background and conference-sized groups of people, Lahore Kebab House never falters being a restaurant for everyone.

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Suggested Reading

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The 13 Best Thai Restaurants In London

Otherwise known as the moo krob KO guide. These are the best places to eat Thai food in London.


BYOB restaurants that are actually good.

The candle-lit interior of 107 Wine Shop & Bar packed with people at a long table

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.

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