Situated in the heart of Leeds, Zaap brings the streets of Thailand right to your doorstep in a unique Yorkshire dining experience.
Immersive, exciting and fresh, Zaap Thai Street food ticks all the right boxes if a new taste is what you are searching for. Bringing the streets of Bangkok to Leeds, the highly regarded menu includes some of Thailand’s most sought-after dishes.
It is not just the expertly prepared, authentic Thai food which is catching the attention of customers, however. Zaap has gone the extra mile, designing an interior concept where you are made to feel like you are right amongst Bangkok’s hectic streets. The forward-thinking restaurant, situated in the Grand Arcade, Leeds brings all the wonderful experiences of a Bangkok street market to the UK, perfectly executed with creative decorations.
Opened in 2015, over time the restaurant has grown in stature and implemented itself as one of the best street food experiences in Leeds. With this May marking the fourth year of Zaap’s inception, we were lucky enough to catch up with Marketing Manager Greg Callaghan. After seeing the impressive venue in the flesh, Wine & Dine Yorkshire was keen to ask Greg how the unique concept came around, before it was opened to the public.
“The design of the restaurant was inspired by the Thai street food markets of Bangkok. We knew that we wanted the concept of the restaurant to be based around Thai street food and we wanted to make it as close to reality as we could. We did our research and used our experience and we came up with designs and decorations that when combined create the authentic Thai street food market feel we were after.
“The tuk tuks, the signage, the open kitchen and even the marble tables are all a part of the Thai culture and they contributed in creating our unique interior.”
In what will be Zaap’s fifth anniversary next year; up to this point the restaurant has only received positive reviews and accolades, a testament to the hard-working team. The staff have built up a healthy reputation for their helpful service and attention to detail, all contributing towards making the venue a friendly environment to dine in.
Offering reasonable prices across the menu, the team are inviting and ensure they are as efficient as possible whilst working – something that has not gone unnoticed. Aside of the venue’s staff, the tuk tuk tables have become very popular, with the well thought-out theme being a big hit with customers! Zaap also prides itself on working with one another, which Greg says goes a long way in satisfying paying customers.
“The main idea was Ban’s (Zaap owner and head chef), but the end result was a team effort. Everyone contributed with ideas and we tried different combinations before we ended up with the result.
“Luckily people love it. Customers visit us and ask to sit in the tuk tuks. People love watching the kitchen work and be able to view their food being cooked. Kids of all ages love to visit us too, they leave their tables to go and play in the tuk tuk. These things are what make us think that all this effort was worth it. Happy customers are what is most important!”
Located in Leeds, being just ‘one of many’ overseas restaurants was not something that appealed to the team at Zaap. Customers are spoilt for choice in the city when it comes to dining out, so back in 2015 prior to its opening, making a restaurant which customers would want to come back to was of paramount importance.
With Indian and Chinese food being very popular in the UK, prior to Zaap’s opening the taste of Thailand had not fully caught the imagination of the paying British public. However, since Zaap opened, that pattern has slowly reversed with the venue being very popular in the area. Situated in an ideal central location, Zaap is known to get very busy with customers being appreciative of the theme and expertly prepared authentic dishes!
Greg explains that since the opening, the popularity of Thai food in Leeds has seen a sharp increase, with locals enjoying the dishes!
“When we opened Zaap, Thai food was not as popular in Leeds as it now is. It was a great opportunity for us to spread Thai culture and cuisine to the people of Leeds and beyond. We had queues from the day we opened and still do to this day. The authenticity of our food, matched with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere is the reason our customers keep coming back. We owe our success to the people of Leeds and will continue to operate for as long as the people of Leeds want us around! Obviously it goes without saying, but the public makes this place a great space to be around and work in every night, so we appreciate everyone that calls in!
“We have got so many popular dishes, our menu is vast and varied and people seem to love it and be keen to come back. One of our top-selling dishes is definitely our Bangkok Platter, which is a mixed sharing platter of our most popular starters: chicken satay skewers, gyoza, Thai fishcakes, prawn and pork dumplings and chicken and prawn wontons – a great combination of starters for newcomers, but for our regulars this offers great value as well. As a main dish I would say that the Pad Thai is an all-time customer favourite. It consists of stir-fried rice noodles with egg and peanuts and a choice of meat. Our customers love it and visit us over and over again just for our Pad Thai.”
The restaurant’s success has been admirable in all departments, from the exciting Thai dishes to the refreshing, friendly atmosphere. Bringing the streets of Bangkok to Yorkshire was never going to be an easy feat, however, Zaap seems to have made a seamless transition, capturing the hearts of those in Leeds. The restaurant recently celebrate its New Year festival Songkran, another cultural experience that one day the UK may get involved in!
“We recently celebrated Songkran, which is Thai New Year. It is relatively uncelebrated in the UK, however in Thailand, the whole country comes to a standstill for three days of city-wide water fights and big feasts. We celebrated Songkran in Zaap, with all our staff dressed up in colourful clothes and in great spirits for the whole of the three days.”
For further details on Zaap, visit their website: www.zaapthai.co.uk to look at the latest deals, offers and menu.