Flavour of the Week: Som Saa
Som Saa makes its long-awaited return, opening its first permanent site on Commercial Street. We tuck in to refreshingly authentic Thai eating packed with flavour
- By Lydia Winter -
What's the draw:
If you didn't get down to Andy Oliver's fiery Thai furnace underneath Climpson's Arch during Som Saa's year-long pop-up, your day just got a whole lot better with the news of its permanent opening on Commercial Street. You'll find a casual, welcoming bar for drinks and snacky things, and behind that there's a bustling dining area, with a view straight into the kitchen. The restaurant only takes reservations for large groups, so unless you get there obscenely early you'll have to queue with the masses, but we can promise you this one's certainly worth it.
What to drink:
From cocktails to wine and even proper Asian teas, there's a hell of a lot of fun to be had with Som Saa's drinks menu. We didn't sample the cocktails – something that will forever fill us with regret, because the krahang old fashioned and the Dragon's Milk (a concoction of sticky rice rum, Kahlúa, coconut cream and sesame) looked excellent. Instead, we kicked things off with a 2013 Von der Fels riesling from legendary German vineyard Keller – dry but well-balanced, with a touch of honeysuckle sweetness – before moving on to a big, blackberry-flavoured mourvèdre from the South African Swartland Winery.View on Instagram
What to eat:
We were told to choose five dishes to share between two, so we opted for seven – naturally – easing in with tender grilled pork neck, topped with a sour, tangy nahm jim dressing (chillies, ginger, palm sugar and lemon juice) and the som tam thai salad, a fresh-tasting medley of green papaya, dried shrimp and peanuts. Elsewhere, deep-fried whole sea bass topped with mint and lemongrass was superb; the face-numbingly hot soup of duck and its offal was like nothing we've ever tasted before; and the pork and beef curries were all melt-in-the-mouth meat and punchy flavours. We rounded things off with palm sugar ice cream, topped with a roasted banana and sesame – admittedly unnecessary, but bloody lovely all the same. A word of warning: we'd advise listening to your server, as things can get pretty hot, just as authentic Thai food should. That being said, there are less spicy options, so you're in safe hands however hot you like it.
Dinner and drinks for two, about £100. 43A Commercial Street, E1 6BD; somsaa.com