SquareMeal Review of
Andy Oliver might be best known from the 2009 series of Masterchef, but he worked with David Thompson at Nahm – still the best Thai restaurant London has ever had – as well as spending two years at Bangkok’s even more highly rated Bo.Lan. Last year Oliver had a smash-hit pop-up in Hackney’s Climpson’s Arch; now, he’s found a permanent home in an industrial-chic former fabric warehouse near Spitalfields Market, after a crowdfunding campaign raised £700,000 in three days. Oliver’s calling card is authentic northern Thai cooking, producing flavours unfamiliar to most Londoners. Lon gapi relish of shrimp paste with wild ginger and coconut cream was oily-rich, and satisfyingly dripped off crunchy crudités. Tamarind dipping sauce for a plump grilled chicken leg was worlds away from the usual sweet gloop, simultaneously sharp, sweet and sour. Burmese-style pork belly and shoulder curry arrived as a comforting pot of melty meat, but there was no hiding from the slap-in-the-face sour heat of som tam Isaan, a green papaya salad with snake beans, tomatoes and fermented fish sauce. Too full for dessert (palm-sugar ice cream with grilled banana, say), we opted for a Dragon’s Milk cocktail (a heady combination of sticky-rice rum, Kahlúa, coconut cream, condensed milk, salt and sesame) from a list boasting interesting takes on the classics. Dispiritingly, Som Saa takes no bookings for tables of fewer than four, but the bar is no bad place to wait at one of 2016’s hottest openings.