REGULAR readers of this column may remember my last review of Yummy Thai restaurant in Wantage.

It was not only the first Thai restaurant I ever went to, it was my favourite Thai restaurant in Oxfordshire.

My first love, and my one true love.

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This was partly down to the exquisite and delicious food, all soaked in sweet and salty sauces, partly down to the ambience and decor, which was at once cosy and exotic, and partly down to the proprietors, who tripped over themselves to be warm, enthusiastic hosts.

As a result, the place was usually packed out on weekend evenings with staff rushing around frantically but always cheerily.

So, I was greatly saddened when I learnt last year that they were leaving to go back to Thailand for family reasons, though they immediately pledged to return to the UK as soon as they could.

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Yummy Thai is situated next to the Peeking Dynasty in Wantage's Asia town. Picture: Google Maps

In the meantime, last month a new Thai couple took over the reigns and reopened Yummy Thai with a very quiet relaunch.

The first I heard about the new business was when I opened a copy of the Wantage Herald and a glossy takeaway menu fell out into my lap.

A quick perusal instantly revealed that my three favourite Yummy dishes - pad see ew noodles, pineapple rice and fish with three sauces - had all been axed.

It was the bad omen, but I had to see for myself.

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I rounded up a posse and booked a table for the next available night.

On arrival, it was immediately clear the changes had indeed been drastic.

Where once the walls had been cluttered with colourful Thai fabrics, sculptures and paintings, as well as large colour photographs of the Royal family, now the walls were bare and white.

The starkness was only emphasised by the fact the place was practically empty, though in fairness to them this was a Tuesday night.

Aside from lacking my three favourites, the menu did have plenty of dishes which were new to me and enticing: tamarind fish, lamb rendang and oyster sauce scallops among them.

For a starter, four of us decided to put ourselves in chef's hands and ordered the mixed hors d'oeuvres (£8.50 per person).

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When it arrived it certainly looked the part and was beautifully presented.

Others started tucking in before I got a chance and immediately a chorus of indecent moans and grunts started drifting across the table.

There were several 'oh my god's and someone even said it was the best prawn toast they had ever had.

I closed my eyes, took a bite, and reader, I was not disappointed.

The prawn toast was indeed crunchy, chewy and tasted like real prawn (not always a guarantee).

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The fishcakes and satay sticks were equally satisfying, and we were provided with a selection of sauces - sweet, sticky soy; sweet chilli; satay and something clear and unidentified - to excite the palate.

The weirdest thing on the platter was an amuse bouche I have never seen before - vermicelli noodles in a massive sticky and sugary bird's nest in the middle of the plate that tasted exactly like a rice crispy square.

It sounds weird, but in small doses it was a perfect counterpoint to the chewy accompaniments.

Katie, meanwhile, had gone for a Som Turn spicy Thai salad with papaya and shrimp (£8.50), which turned out to be fiercely hot but so delicious that we wrestled to drink the last of the fiery sauce.

For my main, I went for the Pla Tod Lad Prik - deep fried seabass with sweet chilli and pickle garlic sauce (£16.90) and a bowl of coconut rice (£3.50).

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This food is certainly not cheap, but I would say they just about got away with it: the fish was fried in a crispy batter and had to be ripped apart carnivorously.

The sauce was hot and sweet and the fragrant sticky rice a perfect complement.

I also got to sample a scallop in oyster sauce which was firm and perfectly cooked, and a bit of the tamarind fish which was also delectable.

Oxford Mail:

I wondered afterwards whether the the stark decor was intended to provide a blank canvas to make the scintillating cuisine sparkle all the brighter. If so, it worked.

The new Yummy Thai had a lot to live up to in this reviewer's book, but they may have just pulled it off.

Still, there's only one way to tell for sure – I'll have to go back and give it another go.

Yummy Thai, 8 Newbury Street, Wantage 01235 768222