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43a Commercial Street
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.
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. Previously a no-bookings joint, Som Saa thankfully now takes bookings for parties of any size.
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43a Commercial Street
Aldgate East Tube Station 219m
Aldgate Tube Station 398m
Tues-Fri 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sun 6-10.30pm (Sun -10pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
What Som Saa did well was they have proper cooking skills and a very good palate for flavours. Som Saa embraced the whole Thai essence from quite carefully thought out teas, beers and cocktails to fancy tableware to the street food style plasticware. It is still early days for the new Som Saa restaurant but they are well beyond their their pop up and residential days.
When it came to food, we had one aim: to have everything they have on the menu. Unanimously, we also agreed to avoid the not so sharing-friendly dishes such as the soups and only picked a couple of salads. Like I said, it was not just another Thai restaurant where there is a generic curry with the choice of your protein. Som Saa offered a handful salads that you might as well just have all of, curries that are just so different from each other, deep fried fish that looks like it was frozen in it's swimming action, simple wok dishes that you know need the force of fierce some fire and desserts appropriately Asian.
Dishes were served as when ready. My favourites were:
grilled pork neck with a 'jaew' chilli dipping sauce
whole deep fried seabass with roasted rice and isaan herbs
'panang' curry of braised salted beef cheeks and thai basil.
stir-fried clams with turmeric, chillies and holy basil
thai style grilled chicken leg with tamarind dipping sauce
stir-fried chicken and long aubergines with yellow beans and thai basil
som tam isaan
grilled chicken, banana flower, and chilli jam salad
burmese style pork belly and shoulder curry with pickled garlic and fresh ginger
jungle curry with thai aubergines, grilled fish and holy basil
palm sugar ice-cream grilled banana
seasonal English /Asian fruit plate
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