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Thursday, February 7, 2013
»There’s a lot of Thai restaurants in London, so it must be quite hard for a new place to make an impression.
Naamyaa Cafe, 407 St. John St, EC1V 4AB
Tel: 020 3122 0988
Mains: from £8
Wine: from £18
Disabled access: Yes
Children welcome: Yes
Naamyaa, the latest venture from the man behind the Wagamama empire, hopes a cool venue, slick cocktails and traditional favourites served with a bit of flair will grab diners’ attention.
And it’s a fair bet they will. The place has already created something of a buzz and the many tables were packed to the rafters on our midweek visit.
Decor-wise it’s part cafe, part Bangkok flower garden with lots of Siamese nic-nacks adorning the walls.
And there are plenty of staff knocking about – all very friendly, but it was almost a case of too many cooks; we were asked several times if each course was to our satisfaction, but a couple of our orders went missing. The menu is divided into noodle and pasta sets, salads, light bites and, weirdly, burgers and sandwiches.
Steering firmly clear of the American cuisine, we ordered some excellent tea-smoked ribs, with a sweet glaze and meat that dropped off the bone.
The golae prawns were as expected – blackened on the grill and zingy with chilli, but our chicken wings were a big disappointment; not much flavour and very oily.
Noodles are kind of a big deal in Naamyaa; lovingly hand-pulled from the freshest imported ingredients. We had the red curry set, which included a small parcel of them, along with a thick, rich red curry, a selection of pickles and an unexpected boiled egg.
These are all plated separately and the idea is you dish it up yourself – each mouthful according to your own taste – which is a pretty satisfying way of eating.
The stir-fried prawn was tasty, but not tasty enough to tackle the mountain of rice that came with it. An honourable mention for the cucumber and coriander dip, which was a revelation; a fresh and zesty contrast to the deep curry.
Unusually for a Thai place, the desert was much more than an afterthought; the ice cream was smooth frozen mascarpone with grated vanilla and the ginger and chocolate mouse was decadent and inviting.
Also worth a mention are the drinks; an extensive wine list is accompanied by brilliant cocktails. I can recommend the fruity Lucky Lady, the Cherry Sour and the incredible Sawee (a lychee contention with a head of fragrant lavender foam).
It’s a bustling, vibey sort of place that’s a lot of fun to visit.
Some of the food didn’t live up to the hype, but some of it was great, and it’s cheap enough to try a few dishes for yourself.