We had booked to see a production at Saddlers Wells and thought we would grab a bite to eat at this close by restaurant as it was on our ‘to do’ list. Naamyaa is the new restaurant in the group owned by Wagammma founder, Alan Yau who also has the popular Busabai Eathai under his belt. Knowing this you will get a sense for what this place stands for; quick, hearty, authentic dishes from Asia – this time Bangkok. Naamyaa is inspired by the Bangkok cafes; however having been to Bangkok I would say this is far more Westernised than any café or traditional restaurant I was in Bangkok (and cleaner too.)
The restaurant sits on the main road junction of Long Street and St John St and has a few nice wrought iron table and chairs for people to sit outside and drink if the weather is nice. There is a small little tuk tuk outside as a half hearted attempt at proving its cuisine of choice.
We walked in through the rather long and stark hall that leads you U shaped back into the restaurant and to the receptionist. We hadn’t booked but as we were early (and I haven’t seen this placed packed when I go by occasionally) we were seated immediately. We liked the fact that the waitress asked us if we would like the table right next to the window – which I would argue is one of the nicest spots in the restaurant -as I find many waiters often do not offer the best seats so freely. The window makes up the entire front facing wall so that diners can look out on to the Angel hustle and bustle. There are screens that separate this area from the rest of the restaurant but these are separated sparsely so does not feel claustrophobic.
The restaurant is rectangular with a square kitchen plonked right in the centre. This unusual set up actually works nicely as it allows you to the chefs at work as well as adding the authenticity of the Bangkok cafes.
We were quickly served by a friendly waitress and ordered the whitebait, chilli dquid and the fishcakes. These were small dishes and we aimed to share these. The whitebait came out first along with our red wine as we wanted to have something to nibble on as it was still early. These came out on a small white bowl and were light and crispy; not greasy at all but slightly overcooked as dry.
We slowly drank our first glass of wine and then our starters came out. The waitress seemed to understand we wanted this set up unlike when all the dishes come out at one in these high pace restaurants such as Waggamama’s and Bunsabai. On that note this pace did feel less like a ‘eat and go’ restaurant with a high turnover and fast pace service and this went in its favour. Our starters came out and were equally satisfying. The squid was perfectly cooked and was sitting in its own cooking liquor of chilli and garlic; very intense flavours that replicated that of Bangkok. The three mini crab cakes were served on a banana leaf and although a terrible cliché (the banana leaf that is) they were well presented and tasted delicious. They were meaty, crisp and fluffy al at the same time and a real joy to nibble on.
Our dishes were taken away at a leisurely speed – again I was pleased that the rushed impersonal service of the other joints in the group has not rubbed off here – and we were then served our main course although already pretty full after the above.
My friend was torn between the two chicken dishes; the Nammyaa chicken or the chicken curry dish and the waitress asked her preferences and confidently suggested the Nammyaa because of the spices and mix of vegetables. I ordered the soft-shell crab curry which was served with rice and looked very impressive as it came out. The soft shell crab was in a tempura batter ad served in a mild aromatic sauce. This came out with a large bowl of white rice to share. The chicken was served with lemongrass, spring onions and bok choy and was full of flavour. We had asked for no garlic in this dish which was quickly acknowledged – unlike many a casual restaurant would do.
We wiped our mouths with our napkins satisfied and full. We had expected a ‘eat and go’ impersonal service however we were pleasantly surprised that we had a personal, relaxed service with deliciously authentic food although much more western in atmosphere (which is not a bad thing necessarily – especially in Angel.)
Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls will definitely be coming again when in the area. As a result we give this place:
Food Atmosphere Service