UNLIKE many of the new brand of uber modern, minimalistic Thai restaurants with their fancy fusion dishes, Isan Thai in Parkstone Road is the real deal.

You feel as if you have been welcomed into someone’s home when you arrive. It’s warm and cosy, even when we visited on a particularly bitterly cold winter’s evening, and adorned with traditional trinkets and table decorations.

The restaurant is run by husband and wife team, Phil Milton and his wife Pornthip, who is from north-east Thailand and clearly takes great pride in cooking authentic home-cooked Thai dishes that are the speciality of her region.

Phil is keen to stress that everything is made on the premises and can be cooked to order. There is certainly plenty of choice on the menu ranging from all the classics such as Thai green curries and Phad Thai dishes, to house specialities including Sai Grok Isan (£5.95), a local sausage of the region made with a mixture of pork, with garlic and rice.

We settled on a selection of starters - prawn sesame toasts and Isan sausages which were easily the equivalent of an Indian madras in terms of heat so not for the faint-hearted.

The prawn toasts (£5.50) were made with minced prawns blended with mixed herbs which had been spread on mini toasts and topped with sesame seeds.

We also had Thai fish cakes - marinated white crab meat mixed with minced pork and served with sweet chilli sauce (£6). Each dish looked and tasted homemade and was presented with painstakingly crafted garnishes such as carrots that had been sculpted into the shape of little butterflies.

For our main course I ordered a chicken Massaman curry (£7.95), which was just as it should be, mild in heat but big on flavour with rich coconut sweetness, a hint of lemon grass, tender potatoes, onions and a good smattering of peanuts adding extra texture.

My husband’s chicken Panang curry (£7.95) was medium in heat, and was rich and creamy but without being too heavy.

Apparently Pornthip has been cooking for friends and family since she was a young girl and many of the dishes here are typical of those you would find being sold by street food vendors in her native region of Udon Thani.

The couple opened the restaurant in July 2016 and you only have to look at the comments on TripAdvisor to see that it is already a firm favourite with many regulars.

Although Phil is originally from Poole, he has spent nearly 30 years in the north-east of England and enjoys good-humoured banter with his customers too.

This is definitely one of the best Thai restaurants in the area so if you like authentic Thai food served in a relaxed, informal setting, this place is well worth a visit.