Monday 18 May 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Som Saa at Climpson's Arch

Last week I was in Hackney to see Hot Chip at Oval Space and decided it was the perfect opportunity to check out the Som Saa residency at Climpson's Arch. I didn't have my DSLR with me so thought I'd trail the camera on my new iPhone 6, so far I'm impressed but that's largely in part to the abundance of light in the dinning room. Anyway, I digress.

Som Saa specialises in northern Thai cuisine and uses seasonal ingredients along with Climpson's wood fired oven to produce authentic Thai flavours in a semi industrial part of Hackney, underneath the railway arches. The dining room is lovely and cosy, full of trinkets and fairy lights. You're sat around sharing tables but in typical London fashion no one appears to talk to their neighbours. I arrived at 6pm on the dot and whilst I waited for Steve with a portion of deliciously moorish Thai seasoned cashew nuts the dinning room quickly filled up.

The menu is designed for sharing so we ordered a few dishes from each section to taste the different sweet, savoury and spicy flavours. We ordered a few Chang beer cans, one of the few beers I actually enjoy drinking and eagerly awaited for our food to arrive whilst delicious, fragrant smells wafted through the dining room.

neua yang - the grilled onglet was wonderfully tender and rich in flavour, combined with the hot chilli paste the overall taste was a deeply rich heat.

yum pla meuk yak - the octopus was perfected cooked whilst retaining a slight char from the grill. This dish was hotter than I was anticipating but the abundance of fresh herbs and tangy marinade brought out the fragrant flavours.

lon gapi - the shrimp paste and coconut cream curry was rich in flavour and unlike any Thai curry I've tasted before. The smoked trout added to the richness whilst the assortment of vegetables added a lightness to the dish. This was one of the stand out plates for me, absolutely stunning.

geng hung lay - the pork belly curry was full of garlic and ginger flavours. The meat was wonderfully succulent and fell away easily from the bone. The sauce was moorish and rich without being too spicy.

som tam - the green papaya salad added a much needed sweetness to the rich flavours present in the rest of the meal. Whilst still packing heat from the chillies, the salad was fresh and juicy.

kluey yang 'ice cteam' nam dan beep - there's only one dessert on the menu and it's the perfect finishing plate. The salted palm sugar ice cream is very similar to salted caramel and the sweet and salty flavours, combined with the cold are the perfect end to a meal of hot and deeply rich curries. The grilled banana wasn't much to my liking but I've never like the fruit anyway. I don't think I could have asked for a more pleasant finish.

Som Saa was an unforgettable meal, don't forget to order yourself some sticky rice and plenty of beers and you're really in for a treat. I've not had Thai food like this since I was there myself, and back in 2010 I was very much on the backpacker trail so this probably beats anything I tried anyway. Will I be back? Absolutely, I can't wait!

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