Years back when pop-up restaurants literally “popped up”, we awarded our fictitious ‘Elldrew Loves’ restaurant crown to Dishoom, who brought the old Irani cafe style and flavours of Bombay to London with their first restaurant opening in 2010. Dishoom came to Elldrew’s attention with their pop-up at The Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar on the Southbank during the summer of 2011. That day was imprinted on us as we sat Thames side eating in silence, eyes nearly popping out of our heads, as we experienced the flavours of India in a way never experienced before. Their creative cooking and mastery of ingredients has not only tantilised our taste buds since but, to this day, has remained our favourite Indian restaurant…what these guys achieve, serving up traditional food in a modern era, is pure artistry. So whilst Dishoom holds onto the crown for Indian cuisine, we feel it’s time to branch out and add another restaurant to the ‘Elldrew Loves’ Club, Som Saa Thai.
Located at Climpson’s Arch in Hackney, East London, Som Saa restaurant and bar focuses on ‘lesser-known dishes from the Northern and North-Eastern provinces of Thailand’ and with a lunch menu consisting of only 7 dishes, you automatically know it’s going to be good (psst it’s fantastic).
The menu has been designed around the traditional Thai way of shared eating and Som Saa utilise the venues 3-tonne, dual-cavity wood fired ovens and kitchen to create amazing dishes; quality ingredients come to life whilst maintaining authentic cooking techniques. We ordered every dish, including the special (we were a group of 12, not just the two of us being piggish!) and were blown away by everything that passed our lips…this is Thai food at its very very best. Washed down with a bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling (with a name like that how could you not?) our food from heaven consisted of:
Yum makeua yao: smoky aubergine salad with egg, prawn floss, coriander and mint.
Som tam: green papaya salad.
Bo la lot: lemongrass beef in betel leaf with peanuts, pickles and herbs.
Gai yang: grilled chicken leg with ‘jaew’ dipping sauce.
Geng hung lay: pork belly curry with pickled garlic and ginger.
Nam dtok pla thort: deep fried seabass with isaan herbs and roasted rice.
Som tam moo vipob: spicy green papaya salad with crispy pork.
Favourite dishes? ALL OF THEM!
We are not sure how long Som Saa will be around at Climpson’s Arch, or where they will go from there, but we know their 2014 winter ‘residency’ was extended over the 2015 summer so get their quickly as it would be a travesty for Som Saa to disappear from the London restaurant scene.
Final shout out must also go to Climpson’s Arch owner, Ian Burgess, who back in 2012 had a vision to utilise the railway arch space (originally, and still, a place to house their coffee roaster for Climpson and Sons growing coffee outlet; and we actually sat inside next to said roaster), creating a venue for young chefs and ‘rising stars of the food world’ to come, cook and show off their talents. With all that keeps getting thrown at us daily in this crazy world there is one constant that still brings friends and family together, food. When it’s this good everything seems aligned, if even only for an hour.
They don’t take bookings, first in first served.
Address: Arch 374 Helmsley Place, Hackney, London E8 3SB