Being able to transport oneself to an enchanting realm is no mean feat. I didn’t actually use a portal to travel to a far away land, but I did visit Sabai Thai which raises the bar in Thai cuisine and offers a contemporary retreat for dining.

Nestled in the heart of Christchurch, Sabai Thai offers an eclectic mix of traditional Thai dishes, with a fresh, modern approach. Since first opening its doors in November 2007, Sabai Thai has become synonymous with quality Thai cuisine and has gained a fine reputation.

On our visit we were greeted by friendly staff who showed us to our table. Booking is not essential, but it was apparent a flurry of diners was set to descend on this popular eatery for a Friday evening out.

In Thai, Sabai means ‘to relax’ – precisely the way you will feel when you dine here. With a clean, fresh and comfortable setting it was indeed easy to settle in for an evening meal.

The atmosphere was relaxed with music softly playing in the background.

Whilst we perused the menu we enjoyed a basket of fresh prawn crackers accompanied with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, and sipped a chilled bottle of Rioja Rivallana Blanco, 2012, £15.50. It was a fine wine boasting delicious light, fruity notes – it is fermented in stainless steel tanks without the use of oak to retain its youthful freshness. Our waitress also delivered some water to the table.

The menu offers a wonderful array of traditional Thai dishes including Sabai Thai platters, £5.95 per person, Por Pea Tord – Spring rolls, £5.25, plus a section of soups, seafood, meat and poultry, noodles, rice, vegetarian options and set menus from £20.95. Dishes are made with fresh, authentic ingredients that match the stylish Thai surroundings which ooze a contemporary edge. Art adorns the walls, and candles and flowers, scattered throughout the restaurant, add a stylish, warming touch.

Our gastronomic journey began with individual starters. I opted for satay chicken (five pieces) – marinated chicken served with a tasty peanut sauce, £5.95. My husband devoured the freshly made Thai fish cakes which were topped with ground peanuts and sliced cucumber, served with chilli sauce, £5.95.

Both packed a flavoursome punch and were well-cooked. Delicious!

Our waitress brought us warm plates in preparation for the arrival of our mains.

We each selected a dish off the menu and a couple of sides.

I chose a seafood dish – prawns marinated and stir fried with cashew nuts, sliced onion and peppers, £11.95.

My husband plumped for roast duck – sliced and cooked in red curry paste with coconut milk, pineapple and vegetables, £9.95. This colourful Thai dish was served in a bowl atop a candle food warmer so it kept its heat – a nice touch. It included a tasty medley of vegetables, the sauce was sweet and creamy and very aromatic. The red curry paste was just perfect – not too overpowering, yet it provided a rich spicy tang that hit the right notes.

To accompany our mains we enjoyed a side dish of Pad Thai – rice noodles stir fried with chicken, ground peanuts, tofu, egg, chives and bean sprouts, £6.45; plus traditional style egg fried rice, £3.95, which was just the right amount for us and perfectly cooked.

Each and every mouth-watering dish was fresh, authentic and full of flavour – traditional dishes with a modern twist that I would go back for.

From Pad Thai to coconut curries, Sabai Thai offers the best of Southeast Asian cuisine.

l Sabai Thai, 8 Castle Street, Christchurch, 01202 486671. Takeaway is also available