Having been away from London for a while I missed the frenzy that was when Som Saa opened a few months ago. Maybe that was a blessing to a foodie like me since we didn’t have to face the long queues. On a weekday evening we got there around 6.30 and were seated in about 5-10 minutes. We almost felt a little worried, were we at the right place? The large bar area, at that point, was rather empty but the restaurant opens up to a bustling dining room and by 7 the place was packed.
We tried to order dishes from across the menu to taste a range of flavours. Aubergine is probably my favourite vegetable, however the Yum Makeua Yao is not something I’d normally order in a restaurant but adamant to order a salad other than Som Tam we decided on this. The smokey and silky slithers of aubergine are intriguingly matched with herbs such as mint. The egg also surprisingly brings the dish together, for a comforting warm salad; an interesting dish though an acquired taste. The prawn floss could, however, have been more pronounced for a meatier bite.
The Gai Yaang is well grilled, the chicken still quite tender and not chewy. Flavours could have packed more punch but overall this was a faithful rendition of Gai Yaang. The tamarind dipping sauce could have been stronger, maybe a little tangier. It was a capable dish but a little ordinary.
I believe Som Saa’s skills lie in their curries and sauces. The Gaeng Panang Neua Kem is one of the best Thai curries I’ve had. The beef cheek was well cooked, tender but with a bite to it; I wonder if this would have been even better by using ox tail? The flavours of the curry are authentic and the added nuts give it an extra bite. Though for a panang curry maybe it could have been thicker and creamier.
I make an effort to leave room for dessert whenever I go to a new restaurant. Som Saa’s dessert menu reads three long but my knowledge and intrigue of Thai desserts stretches only as far as mango sticky rice! So we opted for the most unusual the Kanom Mor Gaeng Kanom Ma-leet. Shallots and desserts seem like two opposing things but they worked really well together. It’s akin to a sweet scallion pancake. The jackfruit gave even more interesting flavours and textures to the dish whilst the coconut cream married everything together. If you are looking for an alternative dessert, this is it!
I don’t remember the name of this but it was my perfect drink with coconut milk, mango and a slight hint of chili to give it a refreshing kick. On the whole service was friendly and informative though at times a little inattentive, mostly because of how busy they became.
It’s becoming easier to find decent Thai food in London, most restaurants will have the staple menu but few will offer more local specialties or variations of it, Som Saa is one of the most successful in doing so. This could very well be the best Thai in London.
Address: 43A Commercial Street, London, E1 6BD
Telephone: 0207 324 7790
Mind The Gap:
Mon – Sat: 6pm – 10.30pm (Lunch Tue – Fri: 12pm – 2.30pm)
Sun: 6pm – 10pm