Test Driving Som Saa - London's much-loved Thai masterpiece

crispyporkPad pak bung mu krob - stir fried morning glory with crispy pork

So why are you visiting Som Saa now?

Yes, yes, we're a little late (OK, VERY late) to the party when it comes to visiting Som Saa. But we have a very good reason - we're completely queue-phobic. But now you can book weekday lunches - huzzah! So if you've ever been put off trying them for that reason - now's your chance to rectify it.

So - let's assume we don't know about Som Saa...

Yes, let's. So here's a quick primer. They originally started out as a residency in Climpson's Arch, a place which now seems like a finishing school for some of the soon-to-be huge new restaurants in town (see Kitty Fisher's and Leandro Carreira's upcoming place). The Som Saa team are chefs  Andy Oliver and Mark Dobbie alongside manager Tom George and have earned huge plaudits since they opened. Giles Coren calls it "freaking awesome" and Jay Rayner says the food is "blisteringly good". 

Here you should be expecting some of the best Thai food in town. 

aubergineYum makeua yao - grilled aubergine salad with egg and prawn floss

And we hear it's a little on the hot side?

We heard that too and - all cards on the table here - that was something that gave us pause too. There's a big market for burn-your-face-off food, but we're not really that target market. So we approached the menu with trepidation. And it turned out, on our visit, to not be an issue at all. We visited at lunch and proved that it was possible to order a truly excellent meal, without it being fiery hot, particularly when waiters will happily warn you when a dish is super spicy. 

So what were the highlights?

It was nothing BUT highlights - so here's all that we had...

  • Gung golae - grilled prawns in a southern style coconut marinade - a new, finger-licking dish for the lunch menu
  • Pad pak bung mu krob - stir fried morning glory with crispy pork - the best way to eat your greens you'll find
  • Yum makeua yao - grilled aubergine salad with egg and prawn floss, all funky and multi-layered in terms of flavour
  • Mu parlow - Five spice soy braised pork belly with chilli vinegar sauce
  • Kluey thort nahm dan beep - salted palm sugar ice cream with turmeric grilled banana

This was lunch, so you might fit more in at dinner but it filled us up nicely. Plus as much rice as you want for £2.50 a head. 

bananaKluey thort nahm dan beep - salted palm sugar ice cream with turmeric grilled banana

Anything else we should really consider?

The nahm dtok pla thort (£16.50) is the whole deep fried seabass with roasted rice and isaan herbs. It's one of their signature dishes. 

How about drinks?

We mainly steered clear of alcohol at lunch, but didn't feel too hard done by when the popcorn iced tea (sticky rice oolong, pandan syrup, lime, popcorn) was one of the best soft drinks we've tried from a menu this year. 


So yes, we're late to the Som Saa party but we can clearly see why it's been heralded as one of the biggest openings of 2016. So if you've yet to take a trip there, like us, you should rectify that straight away. We won't tell anyone, honest.

Som Saa is at 43A Commercial St, London E1 6BD. Find out more about Som Saa

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