So So Som Saa: Far from the Best Thai Restaurant in London!

Our Rating

After some Oktoberfest action (beer drinking at Bierschenke) we debated where to go for dinner in Shoreditch. Sadly we are not in east London often enough and wanted something with a fun vibe and good food. We decided on Som Saa, the Thai restaurant that so many people rave about. We had gone for a Som Saa pop-up at Luiz Hara’s house and didn’t care for the food, but at the time we thought it was because it was not in their own kitchen, etc and wanted to try it properly, at the restaurant. By the way when Luiz cooks his own Nikkei food its the best supper club in London!

We didn’t have a booking so we were told the wait would be an hour. Not bad for a Saturday night so we settled at the bar with some yummy cocktails and some snacks. Sadly, at 8:20 on a Saturday they had already run out of laarb and the snack options were limited, albeit good if not too salty.

Tasty nibbles with cocktails at Som Saa London

Tasty nibbles with cocktails at Som Saa London

We were hoping to order some of the menu items with our drinks but that’s not allowed. Finally we were moved to our table and voraciously hungry at that point, we decided to order a lot and experiment. We all LOVE Thai food and have been to Thailand and maybe that’s why we weren’t too impressed.

The service was also very weak. When we didn’t like one of the cocktails, we were told they couldn’t remove it from the bill as it had been “sitting there” for a while which made it diluted. Yes, it had been, as we had told the other waitress and she ignored it and then we didn’t drink it.

What we ate:

Grilled banana leaf parcel of silver mullet with lemongrass, herbs and egg: a mushy mix of fishy mullet mixed with the rest. All you could taste was the very strong fish and it was visually unappealing and the taste was too strong. Thai tamale gone bad…

Grilled banana leaf parcel at Som Saa

Grilled banana leaf parcel at Som Saa

Bangkok style green papaya salad with snake beans, dried shrimp, peanuts and cherry tomatoes: Dorothy and I LOVE papaya salad but sadly not this one. The whole thing was so sharp that it almost burned your tongue. We left most of it behind. So disappointing.

Papaya salad at Som Saa Thai

Papaya salad at Som Saa Thai

‘Khua’ style red curry with mussels and pineapple: I liked this dish ok even though it could have used a higher seafood to sauce ratio. The sauce was nice and thick, and worked well when eaten with some sticky rice – which they also ran out of and we had to beg and implore till they scored us a bit more.

‘Khua’ style red curry with mussels and pineapple at Som Saa Thai

‘Khua’ style red curry with mussels and pineapple at Som Saa Thai

Dry red curry of crispy pork with kaffir lime leaf and snake beans: this was a fail. The pork was absurdly fatty and it was one big goopy dish where you couldn’t identify the various components.

Dry red curry at Som Saa Shoreditch

Dry red curry at Som Saa Shoreditch

Stir fried English and Asian vegetables: one of the best things we ate all night. A nice simple mix of cabbage and lots of mushrooms.

Stir fry veggies at Som Saa Shoreditch

Stir fry veggies at Som Saa Shoreditch

Whole deep fried seabass with roasted rice and Isaan herbs: this was the best fish of the evening. Fun presentation with the whole fish served crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and accompanied by a deliciously herby and fresh salad.

Signature fried fish at Som Saa London

Signature fried fish at Som Saa London

Chef Dorothy operating on the fried fish at Som Saa

Chef Dorothy operating on the fried fish at Som Saa

Salted palm sugar ice cream with turmeric grilled banana: the ice cream was creamy and good and the bananas were ok.

Salted palm sugar ice cream with turmeric grilled banana at Som Saa

Salted palm sugar ice cream with turmeric grilled banana at Som Saa

Duck egg and jackfruit seed custard with poached jackfruit and crispy shallots: Dorothy doesn’t eat dessert but as a chef, she thought we needed to order it to fulfill her curiosity. This was seriously the most disgusting dessert we ever tried. The custard had an odd not creamy texture and the shallots were just nasty. Even if this had been a savoury dish it would have been gross. The waiter told us: Do you know how hard it is to make a duck egg custard? Who cares, waste of time!

Most horrendous dessert ever at Som Saa London

Most horrendous dessert ever at Som Saa London

In sum: the meal was almost comical. They ran out of loads of things and the service was so disjointed. When we asked if it was a particularly bad evening as people probably didn’t show to work because the Thai King died and they were mourning they looked at us like we were aliens speaking gibberish. They had no clue the king died but why am I surprised, none of the staff seemed to be Thai, and since London doesn’t have great Thai food, probably that is why Som Saa gets raving reviews as people don’t know what to expect. I found the whole experience underwhelming and extremely salty.

43A Commercial St, London E1 6BD
Main dining room at Som Saa London

Main dining room at Som Saa London

Main dining room at Som Saa London

Main dining room at Som Saa London

Som Saa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

The Breakdown

4 Comments

  • Reply October 26, 2016

    Pastabites

    We were there last saturday too, a group of 4 and we all loved it. We have been to Thailand a few times and found the flavours very authentic. Had the papaya salad which we loved, equally the pork belly – it’s belly so it’s fatty, and expected, the sauce was delicious. We had the chicken legs too, very enjoyable and the fish curry, also very good. While the bar staff were not the most friendly (quite the opposite) our table service was absolutely fantastic. I sure wasn’t expecting a pad thai on the menu, and why so – when you can go to chains like busaba and have those. Shame your experience wasn’t as good as most punters!

    • Reply October 26, 2016

      Sam

      I agree. Was sad about it but maybe will give it another shot. Could have been an off night.

      • Reply October 27, 2016

        Pastabites

        It’s a shame when somewhere disappoints so much! We’ll go again, fingers crossed it will keep up 🙂

  • Reply November 16, 2016

    Harry

    Go to The Heron Pub in Paddington. There’s a thai restaurant in the basement serving honest to goodness (mostly northern influenced) Thai food. Don’t expect decor, silver service etc but it’s probably the most authentic Thai food you’ll find in London.

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