Vying for the crown of London’s best Thai restaurant, “amazing” Som Saa continues to set pulses racing with its fiery regional food and lively warehouse setting. When we visited, the cavernous bare-brick interiors were heaving – packed out with second dates, City-boy outings and raucous thirty-something catch-ups all blissfully happy amid the noise and clatter.
With Andy Oliver (ex-MasterChef) and Mark Dobbie at the stoves, the cooking is also in-your-face: a riot of heat, sweet, sour and more heat that focuses on lesser-known Thai dishes. The duo set out their stall from the very start, whacking your taste buds with chilli-laden yum khamin khao (a prawn and peanut salad with fragrant white turmeric and ka-jorn flowers), followed by an equally spicy som tam salad zinging with lime and fresh tomatoes.
A dish of gai yang (grilled chicken leg with adroitly weighted sweet-sour tamarind dipping sauce) provides temporary respite from the heat, but it’s back to the fiery stuff for gutsy curries – perhaps a braised beef ‘yellow’ riff piqued with cucumber and chilli relish or sour stone bass with cha om omelette. For afters, squeeze in a grilled banana with salted palm-sugar ice cream if you have space.
To drink, cocktails classics are reimagined with hard-to-find Thai ingredients (imagine a ‘no-lime’ pisco sour mixed with betel leaf and cardamom foam), while an entire page of the wine list is given over to napalm-proof Rieslings. Note that Som Saa now takes bookings for parties of any size and has launched two new ‘tem toh’ (‘full table’) tasting menus for lunch and dinner.