Family run Nay Thai opened in April 2013 in a busy shopping street in Surbiton. The menu was lengthy and a la carte, though there were also some set menu options, from £23.50 to £36.95. The dining room was compact but tables were quite large and not too tightly packed. Linen napkins were neatly folded into the shape of a waistcoat, which was an interesting touch.
There was a short wine list, which at least listed the growers and grapes if not the vintages. There were four whites, four reds, two rose wines and a couple of sparkling options. Prices ranged from £19 to £30. Vina Carrasco Merlot was £22 compared to its retail price of £7, by way of illustration. Singha beer was £4.25 a bottle.
Tom yum goong (£8.95) was the classic spicy Thai soup made with a stock of lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and mushrooms, laced with chilli oil and in this case with a few prawns. The prawns were cooked properly and were of reasonable quality and there was a distinct chilli kick, though the soup was not as complex a blend of flavours as the best of its breed (13/20). It was still better than Thai fishcakes (£7.95) with a chilli dressing dip, which were soggy and tasteless (barely 11/20), only the lively dipping sauce saving the dish to a degree. Som tam (£9.50) was raw green papaya salad with green beans, tomatoes, carrots chilli, garlic and ground peanuts. This was quite spicy and the papaya had reasonable texture (12/20).
Prawn gaeng Penang (£17.50) was a medium thick curry with a base of coconut milk as well as green beans and shredded kaffir lime leaves. The prawns were cooked well enough, and certainly were of decent quality, though again I found the sauce to be quite one dimensional, with a chilli kick but not much else in the way of spicy complexity (12/20). In this, just as in the soup, I was hoping to taste things like Thai basil or mint or other Thai flavours, but mostly I just tasted chilli. Pla makham (£17.50) had pieces of deep-fried sea bass with crispy shallots and tamarind sauce. The tamarind was a pleasant touch, but the sea bass had little flavour and was rather soggy in texture (11/20). Stir fried mixed green vegetables (£8.50) were cooked with garlic and soya sauce. This was actually well made, the green vegetables lightly cooked and nicely enlivened by the soy (13/20). Pad Thai (£11.50) was the traditional stir-fried rice noodle dish, with bean sprouts, egg, tamarind sauce and peanuts. The noodles had good texture and there was a pleasant mix of sweetness from the tamarind and a spicy kick of chilli (13/20). Egg fried rice was fine.
Service was very good indeed, the manageress being attentive and friendly, and dishes arrived at a steady pace. The bill came to £64 per person with beer to drink. Nay Thai was a pleasant enough neighbourhood restaurant, though the cooking was objectively nothing remarkable. If you live in the area then it would be a place to consider, but it is not a destination restaurant.