Inspire Me

Rosa’s blooms in first restaurant outside London

Rosa’s Thai Cafe makes its highly-anticipated opening at the Dock on February 25.

Rosa's London

What made you pick Liverpool for your first restaurant outside London? And, more specifically, why the Dock?

Liverpool has many historic connections with Asia as imported spices would pass through the port of Liverpool, which we think is a fantastic tie to the city. We love the idea of ‘East meets West’, so what better place to represent this outside of London? I believe there’s a real connection and sense of pride with Thai people and Liverpool.

The Albert Dock is a fantastic location as we have the Dock on our doorstep. The first time we visited I fell in love with the architecture and the view as it reminded me of London’s St Katharine’s Dock, where I used to live.

Your restaurants are known for having their own sense of identity. How will the Royal Albert Dock differ from your others?

When we opened our first site in Brick Lane we took over an old English cafe called Rosa’s, hence the name. Now when we open a new Rosa’s we look for buildings with history and character, just like our first site had. For us it’s all about adapting, and this is especially true of the Albert Dock as it’s a Grade I listed building, so we can’t make any changes to its exterior. Rosa’s Liverpool is one of our larger sites and it’s the first one with a mezzanine, which will definitely add a new element to the restaurant that we’ve not seen before.

Rosa's Thai Cafe Food
Rosa's Thai Cafe Food

The Docks have a reputation for bringing new food and flavours to Liverpool – and you’ve lived in different countries around the world. What are the influences that inspire you?

My family inspires my cooking. My auntie is a big inspiration for me as she would often ask me to help her cook, so I learnt so much from her, from cooking rice to making my own curry pastes. I also lived in Hong Kong on and off for 28 years, and was inspired by the array of fresh ingredients you could find at the markets. Everything was freshly prepared in front of you – even the chickens!

Born in the East, raised in the East End

Saiphin Moore grew up on a mountain farm in Khao Kho, northern Thailand, where she learned to cook with ingredients that were brought straight from field to wok

What was it that led you to start cooking? Do you still get the same thrill from it now that you did when you started it?

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have time to cook for me and my siblings as they worked long hours on the farm in Khao Kho, northern Thailand. My hometown has a colder climate so it’s possible to grow all sorts of vegetables including broccoli, cabbage and carrots, so I learnt from a young age how to cook with fresh produce straight from the farm.

I live to cook. I definitely still enjoy cooking just as much, if not more than when I started. When I’m not working my favourite thing to do is cook for my friends and family. Every time I cook it takes me back to cooking for my family when I was younger.

Rosa's Thai Cafe Food
Rosa's Thai Cafe Food

What’s your favourite dish on your menu?

My favourite dish has to be stir-fried chilli and basil with minced chicken (Pad Kra Pow). It’s a comfort food and so delicious, especially as I add a lot of extra chillies to mine.

If you’re not eating Thai or Lao food, what’s your favourite cuisine?

Italian! Seafood spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, squid, prawns and mussels is my absolute favourite. Italian food is all about fresh, good quality ingredients, which is why I love it. I also add dried chilli to my pasta – I can’t live without it!

Your dishes are exotic, but you’re well known for being committed to sustainability. How do you juggle the two?

We cut out the middleman and get all of our curry pastes, rice, noodles and coconut milk direct from the farmers in Thailand, so we know we’re directly supporting local communities. Our curry pastes are made by a family in Trang, with everything tasted and approved by me. We also make sure to work with companies that share our passion for sustainability, such as Belu and Karma Cola.

Rosa’s is open from February 25, with a mouthwatering menu of Thai favourites, alongside some more unusual, unique dishes, inspired by Saiphin’s childhood. Make sure you pay it a visit!

Rosa's Thai Cafe food
Rosa's Thai Cafe food