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Talking about food: SOM SAA, Climpson Arches

Food is best enjoyed when eaten with your hands. Sauce sucked off finger tips, feeling your way around the textures of the food, mopping up jus, being at one with it all. Therefore I introduce to you – Som Saa's prawns. Packed with salt and chilli they are a revelation in flavour. Well, maybe that's over the top, the combination of salt and chilli is hardly new, but, they are covered and coated in both, and yet not over powering the prawn-y-ness. Prawns are only ever meant to be eaten with your hands, and Som Saa's prawn's soft flesh pops out of the shell, squishy and firm, in equal measures, between your fingers. Dip in sauce, pop in mouth, tongue tries to cover every surface so as not to miss a morsal of taste, lick fingers for salt and chilli. In the words of Heather “fuck me gently with a chainsaw”, it's so good.

I'm Malaysian, so I will eat rice with my hands, use it to mop up sauce, pick up meat and vegetables to create a mouthful of food. Rice can be used as edible utensils, when executed correctly. And I sorely wanted to do that with the gorgeous (endless) sticky rice. But I restrained. Not sure East London was ready for me to go that East.

We started with cocktails. Deliciously put together with asian ingredients. And then a couple of glasses of Riesling. I love a Riesling, and with spicy, asian food I couldn't think of anything better. They are also sourcing special wines that aren't usually sold by the glass, that they have personally matched with the food. Great idea, a bit sad, due to delivery issues, it wasn't available that night, but – I'll be back! What I also enjoy about the drinks list was that it was small. A small menu (drinks or food) feels thoughtful, matched to what we should be experiencing – it makes the evening feel curated. I like choice, but sometimes I just like to do told what to do, it makes the evening feel controlled, a journey, an event. Som Saa balanced this nicely. A small food and drinks menu, and an easy atmosphere, so that I could marvel at the food, but not spend too long umm-ing and ahhh-ing and could actually catch up with my friend (in between the moments of “oh my fuck – that is delicious”, of course).

We also devoured a pork stew, and gorgeous aubergine with soft boiled egg, and chicken wings. More finger food, of sticky deliciousness. I couldn't fault anything, except maybe the fact that two portions of rice I ate was probably too much – I just couldn't stop.

The big question – after Climpson Arch, where will they go next!? Don't leave me...


We ate here on Thursday 20 Novemeber, 2014.

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