Mar 11 2013

Naamyaa Cafe


Naamyaa calls itself an all day dining modern Bangkok café and is located in Islington. I read about it in a magazine back in November when it first opened but what really made me want to go there is when one of my friends told me that one of the chefs (David Thomson) involved in Naamyaa used to work for Nahm, the Michelin star Thai restaurant, that recently closed down in London (he and his colleague Yau (creator of Wagamama) which are both behind Naamyaa also opened Busaba Eathai in 1999). Unfortunately when I finally made to Naamyaa David had left and was no longer running the kitchen and some critics say the food has deteriorated ever since.

When I first arrived there (note this is also one of those annoying no booking places but as the restaurant is so big I don’t think you will have to wait for long even if it is busy and when I went there for lunch on a weekday it was empty) I was a bit surprised as Naamyaa is different to your average Thai restaurant because it is so modern and so European and for me it almost feels too sterile. There are high ceilings in the restaurant and glass walls so the restaurant is very light and you can see all that is going on outside, and this is such a different atmosphere to your average cramped and dark Thai restaurant. The menu is also a bit confusing to me as you have a brunch menu that has Thai breakfast dishes but also European style dishes like granola and oat porridge, and the same thing can be seen in the lunch menu which has Thai classics (different rice and noodle dishes) as well as Japanese, Malaysian and Chinese dishes and interesting “Naamyaa sets” (which I will describe later) but also European burgers and hot dogs which I think does not fit the place at all and in some way reduces the authentic feel of this restaurant and its credibility. One of the signature dishes they have on the menu is their Jasmine tea-smoked baby back pork ribs, a Cantonese dish that has been inspired by the version at Hakkasan, where Yau worked before, but unfortunately I did not try it on this occasion.

I stayed away from all the European food and ordered “Green Papaya Salad” and spring rolls as a starter, and I very much enjoyed the papaya salad, the dressing was spicy and the salad felt very fresh but the spring rolls were just ok, don’t remember them as being anything out of the ordinary. As a main course I wanted a medium spicy dish that involved noodles and as I could not find any soup noodle dish that I fancied I decided to go for the Naamyaa set, and this included soft, thin rice noodles served at room temperature which were served with a curry (I chose the medium spicy fish curry) and it also had a side salad that included pickled morning glory, beansprouts, Chinese leaves, starfruit and sweet basil and you are supposed to mix all this together to vary the textures and flavours. I liked the noodles and the vegetables and the whole concept but I thought the curry was just ok. My lunch buddy Bernie chose the “stir fried green prawn curry” and I tasted a bit of it and also thought it was good but nothing special although I did like the size of the prawns, nice and big. We also ordered a desert and I went for the desert of coconut and pandanus, which I thought was tasty but the texture was a bit strange, as one layer was quite firm and the other soft so it was a bit strange to eat it. Bernie chose the coconut cream dotted with tapioca pearls and topped with toasted sesame seeds and pomegranate, and I liked it but once again it was good but not excellent.

I did enjoy Naamyaa, and I did find the Naamyaa set interesting and I also very much enjoyed the papaya salad, but overall I just found the food a bit average and to be honest I prefer the more authentic Thai restaurants as they have a bit more character.

Date: 11/03/13
Location: Angel
Price for 2 people, no alcohol: £65 (and I left £7 pounds service charge, like that this is a restaurant that does not just automatically add 12% service charge)

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Maija rated: 



Naamyaa Cafe
407 St John Street, EC1V 4AB
United Kingdom
Naamyaa Cafe Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3