Restaurant review: Naamyaa Cafe, EC1
- Credit: Archant
»There’s a lot of Thai restaurants in London, so it must be quite hard for a new place to make an impression.
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.
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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.
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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.