Jino’s was not set up to cater for students fresh from the South East Asia Silk Road, but a trip to this quaint Thai café in Headingley is enough to leave anyone yearning for the bedlam of Bangkok.
“Come to Jino’s!” said my real-life Leeds-resident friend on Thursday night, in reply to my complaints of abject hunger. “Thai?” I responded. “Really? Rice noodles will not satisfy this week-long meal deficit.” When I had suggested dinner in Headingley to celebrate the receiving of our student loans after seven days of baked beans and stale bread, I had meant something cheap involving chips and real ale and winter veg. Not Thai. Nonetheless, desperation took hold, and I was persuaded.
I’d never been to Jino’s before, although I’d come across the place almost every morning on the number 95 bus that used to run between my halls (the now-obsolete Bodington) and university. Although I was running late for our 9pm reservation, I’d been informed that a quick detour to the supermarket is part of the full experience. Jino’s has a bring-your-own-booze policy, so I made a dash for a bottle of Sainsbury’s finest (own-brand) red.
It seemed not to matter that we didn’t sit down at our table until 9.20; our apologies were greeted with smiles. The casually-dressed staff remained friendly throughout the evening. On the advice of my friend, who has visited Jino’s so many times she can practically speak Thai, I opted for Dao Hu Tod (deep fried tofu pieces, £3.95) as a shared-starter, and Pad Nam Man Hoy (stir fried veg, £8.65) for the main course. As the rest of the food was brought out, all my fears of small-portion-sizes immediately dissipated. I also sampled Pad Siew with tiger prawns (a noodle dish, £8.75) and GaengPa with chicken (a curry, £9.65). Everything tasted fresh, despite the fact that it only took about ten minutes to come out. We whiled away an hour and a half in Jino’s, reveling in its lively atmosphere and the sangria one of our seven strong party had brought along. Enjoyably decoration is kept to a low at Jino’s; unlike many other Thai restaurants, the walls of this place are not adorned with tacky elephants and irrelevant oriental symbols. Jino’s also offers an excellent value-for-money lunch menu, and everything is available to take-away.
The only negative feedback I can offer is that the restaurant was quite humid and hot for most of the evening. But then again, perhaps this was an attempt to recreate the conditions of Bangkok.
You can find Jino’s Thai Cafe at 46a Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds. LS6 2AL.
Average meal including service and BYOB from Sainsbury’s – £15.
Visit http://www.jinosthaicafe.co.uk/ for more information.
Photo: Property of Yelp