Update Sept 2018: The Begging Bowl have sent photos of their disabled toilet and say wheelchair users have had no problems with it but they’ve
“had a few worries about advertising our toilet as a disabled facility and wondered if you could help me decide if it is. We have handle bars on either side of the toilet and a emergency cord with alarm. The only issue is that the space is quite small so when we have a guest wheelchair user we have to tell them that the internal door of that toilet may not close with the wheelchair inside however a staff member or friend can wait by the external door whilst in use. A wheelchair can be turned in the external area with the external door closed. We are thinking about putting another lock on this external door.”
They are refurbishing and we told them we would advise but good job for a small restaurant with a small space!! We told them it’s better to have this than nothing.
Since opening on Peckham’s trendy Bellenden Road in 2012, The Begging Bowl has earned a very good reputation locally for its seasonal and inventive take on regional Thai cuisine.
The restaurant’s concept is one of sharing and giving; in Buddhist tradition begging bowls are carried by monks to collect food or alms. It’s in this spirit that dishes are served as sharing plates, and each diner can order a limitless portion of sticky/jasmine rice for £3.
This sharing approach is fun, giving diners the opportunity to try a range of dishes. Some disabled diners may find the process of dishing up from multiple plates to be a faff, especially as the tables are narrow, and dishes are delivered at different times. However, some plates will feed one person and the enthusiastic floor staff are happy to recommend dishes according to your needs or preferences.
Most of The Begging Bowl team aren’t Thai – including head chef Jane Alty – but they clearly have a passion and respect for the regional nuances of Thai cuisine. Alty used to work at Nahm, the first Thai restaurant in Europe to earn a Michelin star (now closed in the UK and now in Bangkok). According to its website, The Begging Bowl aims to “balance the classic Thai flavour palate of hot, sour, sweet and salty”, while elevating seasonal British ingredients in dishes such as a fantastic jerusalem artichoke and peanut curry.
The menu changes with the seasons, but retains a focus on traditional Thai ingredients like fish, apple aubergines and fermented pork. On a recent visit, I particularly enjoyed the freshness of the fermented pork salad (£11) and a stir fry of hispi cabbage (£7), which cut through the complex richness of a braised pork rib soup with smoked mackerel (£11). The menu also features more traditional crowd-pleasers such as fishcakes, crispy squid with red turmeric and a sour chili dip (£8) and a classic Som Tam, or papaya salad (£8).
As with most “street food” outlets in London, The Begging Bowl is not priced as street food. However, food and wine are reasonably priced considering the quality of the ingredients. 5 dishes between two people with rice and a drink costs around £35 per person. The short dessert menu includes condensed milk ice cream (£6), a refreshing palate cleanser, and more indulgent banana fritters with peanut brittle and a turmeric custard (£8).
The Begging Bowl have provided BBS with this statement on accessibility:
‘The Begging Bowl is wheelchair friendly, with step free access, wide doors, clear exit routes and a disabled toilet. We usually only take bookings for parties of 6 or more, however if you are a wheelchair user we are happy to make an exception and take bookings of any size, as this way we can allocate one of the tables most suited for wheelchair use.’
‘The restaurant also has good adjustable lighting for our partially sighted guests.’
You can also find accessibility info on their homepage.
I would reiterate to potential customers that it’s worth calling ahead of your visit to ensure that you have the space and tables that you need to enjoy your meal comfortably. The Begging Bowl’s thoughtful response to our enquiries and eagerness to accommodate customers with a range of disabilities earns them 2.5 BBS Ticks.
The Begging Bowl, 168 Bellenden Road, SE15 4BW