Salivation: Som Saa

A flash of bright light. The sound of rain pounding the pavement outside followed by the deep bellowing of thunder.

Why had I agreed to go out tonight? I wondered. Then I realised the only reason I could actually get a table is because there was the back end of Hurricane Lorenzo battering the UK & Londoners are a fragile bunch when it comes to inclement weather. I’d decided to walk the ten minutes from the Tower of London as I had a massive brolly and was wearing trainers. Som Saa is handily located amongst a plethora of tube stations a short walk from Spitalfields market. As I stepped inside the former fabric warehouse from the wet street, I shook off my umbrella & placed it in the handy brolly bin beside the front door. I noticed the incense to my right swirling beside the heavy condensation on the windows, welcoming diners with the faint aroma. I sat at the bar whilst I waited for my companion & not wanting to get too ahead of myself, ordered a Som Saa limeade and OH MY GOD. I was expecting a jazzy Sprite but what I got was a revelation. It tasted cold, aromatic, it was like lemongrass & calamansi had a love child and it was the second coming. There was a sweetness & creaminess to it that was reminiscent of rice milk & a barely detectable savouriness that my companion said reminded him of a Thai green curry. The faint tang of sweet lime was oh so delicate & upon quizzing the barman I was informed that they had recently tinkered with the recipe and this was the outcome. BRAVO SOM SAA.

We were led through the high ceiling-ed industrial space which was cut through the middle by the bar and taken to the more spacious back area. Booths along one wall, a kitchen along the back, flames LEAPING out of the pans like frisky bonfires. You could feel the heat. Despite the space, the room was warm, with lots of aged wood everywhere, chalkboards with scrawled new lamb dishes on them and buzzy chatter all around. We were seated at a big, old table in the middle & advised by our waitress to order two dishes each so OBVIOUSLY we ordered five & two bowls of rice.

The Pad Grappao Gai (minced chicken with garlic) was the first to arrive alongside the Ma Yaang (grilled pork shoulder with chilli) and my god, these dishes were spectacular. The chicken: Oil slicked & tossed amongst mild red chilli & al dente green veg, it was GORGEOUS. However I stupidly tasted the pork first which was achingly tender & ready to burn your tastebuds OFF with the mountain of finely sliced Thai chillies it was laden with. But BOY was that dish worth it. If I was to return there’s no question I’d order those two dishes again.

Then came the beef curry (kinda massaman-ey), prawn stir fry (bit fiddly taking the skins off), & the chicken leg which was BBQ sweet glazed (in a good way, I despise BBQ ordinarily).

We were too stuffed to eat pudding so we rounded off the meal with drinks from the dessert menu instead. My companion ordered a Dragons milk with was reminded me of Baileys but with a rum-ey twist. I ordered the Chenin Blanc and MY WORD!!! What a STUNNING wine that was; honey, white balsamic, the flavours danced around my scorched tongue and gave me LIFE. One of the best dessert wines I’ve ever had.

This Thai gem is difficult to get a table at for good reason. Relaxed atmosphere, great food & even better drinks. The fact that the only bad thing I have to say about the place is ‘please provide a finger bowl for my sticky hands after tackling the fiddly prawns’ speaks VOLUMES. I look forward to the next batch of disgusting English weather battling away the crowds for me.

£115.02 for 2 including drinks & service

Nearest tube: Aldgate East

Som Saa

43A Commercial Street

Whitechapel

London

E1 6 BD

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