As I get older and arguably more mature, I have the “we have food at home” debate with myself on a regular basis. But the problem with living in the gastronomic city that is London is the amazing choice of restaurants on my doorstep. And on this particular day, the older and more mature version of me was losing said debate. I was dressed up and ready to get Thai’d up.
Tonight’s venue is Som Saa, sexy, buzzy restaurant in Spitalfields. It’s where London meets Bangkok, an east London hotspot that has achieved something close to cult status among foodies.
After starting out as a humble pop-up in a rough and ready railway arch, Som Saa successfully crowdfunded its way to their first bricks and mortar restaurant in 2016. They didn’t just reach their £550,000 target. No sirree. They smashed their original target by £150,000 – in less than three days. It takes that long to fold one load of laundry.
Surprisingly for an east London hotspot, Som Saa takes reservations for all party sizes. We arrive early for ours and took a seat at the bar. The restaurant is a former fabric warehouse and they have a moody, industrial vibe going on. We order cocktails from a gorgeous zoomer – a Rak Tong Ham (chilli, cucumber, basil and lime leaf infused tequila, elderflower and lime) and a Siam Sling (gin, thai basil, makrut lime, basil seeds, sencha rose tea and lime). My initial thoughts? “Wow! There’s alcohol in that? I’ll be able to drink several of those.” Learn from my mistakes.
A little while later we are shown to a corner table. Dishes come out as soon as they are ready which makes it the perfect food sharing experience. We (over) order an extensive selection of Thai nibbles.
To start there are crispy chicken skin served with sriracha sauce and a southern style grilled chicken skewer with a tamarind jaew. This is followed by Pad Pak, a stir fry of flourish farm greens and Asian mushrooms with garlic and oyster sauce, and Mu Parlow, a delicious five spice soy braised pork with fermented chilli sauce and a soy cured egg.
The showstopper is the Nahm Dtok Pla Thort, deep fried seabass with Isaan herbs and roasted rice powder. Add a bowl or two of impossibly fluffy jasmine rice and life is complete. It’s noteworthy to mention that Som Saa’s jasmine rice is supplied by Paddi and each bowl funds projects that empower small holder farmers through direct trade and sustainable practices.
The dessert menu is small but mighty and the salted palm sugar ice cream with grilled bananas is all kinds of amazing. Unconventionally delicious, the palm sugar brings a caramelly sweetness to this ice cream dessert.
For a restaurant sitting proudly on Commercial Street, Som Saa is surprisingly affordable. Cocktails are all around £10 and most dishes on the main menu hover around the £15 mark. There is also a “Tem Toh” option which is a tasting menu which won’t break the bank – making my excuse not to cook almost financially responsible.
43A Commercial Street, E1 6BD / 020 7324 7790