Tales from Behind the Whites: ‘Som Saa’ Pop-Up at Climpson’s Arch, London Fields.

Som SaaLast week Andy Oliver hit the streets of London again with his second-to-none Thai grill. Together with Tom George, ‘Som Saa’ has been launched; currently a Thai pop-up restaurant with a passion and taste for authenticity, soon to be (hopefully) a restaurant somewhere in the London area.

So, things have come a long way since the bar story days of the summer. From Peckham to Hackney, crowds of people to swarms, three chefs to four, two days of prep to a week (well for Andy anyway), we also coincidentally found ourselves cooking underneath the railway arches again. In every way this event marked the beginning of something spectacular, if you like Thai food in London, stick Som Saa in your diary because as the Skinny  bib says, “when ‘Som Saa‘ opens it will be the go-to place in London for Thai”.

It was great to get back behind the grill again with Andy and his A classAndy preparing for a busy service team. There is never a dull day in the pop-up world, I always find it exciting to meet in a new location and (in this case) throw a couple of jumpers on and get ready to serve large amounts of great Thai food to people. Climpson’s Arch was an ideal location for this event with its large inside dining area (where they also roast their own coffee beans) and outside fire pit, the food was flying. Although we had four fully grown chefs cooking a complex menu in a space no larger than an elevator, we had an awesome time. With the Thai hip-hop on full blast and the apple wood ovens roaring nobody left unsatisfied (well! Up until we ran out of food that is).

Fresh Kaffir LimesAndy, once again went all out with the new menu, from ‘him moo’ (crispy pigs ears with burned chilli sauce), to ‘mok paa’ (Lao style trout in banana leaf). The ‘gai yang’ (grilled chicken with two dipping sauces), ‘som tam’ (green papaya salad) and the ‘nam prik nuum’ (grilled chilli relish with duck egg & pork scratchings) made an appearance again, no surprise after their previous popularity at bar story. With a fresh batch of kaffir limes and leaves sent over from Spain specifically for the event, the dishes were fresher than ever. Its funny to think how such a common ingredient in Thailand, is such a fuss to get hold of in London. Still, it’s great to see that every effort to make things properly was taken.

a few dishes

Photographs taken from @Wilkes888

The menu was impressive to cook and thoroughly enjoyed from the other side. We were joined by @feasttotheworld @wilkes888 and @Clerkenwell_Boy, all of which enjoyed their experience, check their spaces for more information. It was nice to see that the mystery remains when reading through the menu, the same thing happened at bar story. Every time I saw a menu it was packed full of new surprises, ‘Som Saa‘ at Climpson’s was ox tongue prepno different. I saw a few of the experimental ingredients in the weeks coming up to the event and knew to expect the unexpected (the picture gives a hint at what some of the ingredients may have been). This was the first time I have cooked, or eaten pigs ears and I have to say I was impressed. They are however what I like to call a ‘working progress’ ingredient; preparing a piece of meat by scraping the crap off of it with a wire brush is certainly a first for me. Despite this, the crispy pigs ears dish on the menu shows with a little creativity and knowledge they can taste amazing, and that they did.

  • pigs ears with burnt chilli sauce
  • deep fried seabream with green mango salad
  • grilled aubergine with nuoc mam
  • northern style pork sausage
  • lao style fish in banana leaf
  • isaan style fresh bamboo salad
  • grilled chicken leg, with two dipping sauces
  • green papaya salad Bangkok style
  • grilled ‘Turkish’ chilli relish with duck egg, pork scratching’s and vegetables
  • Thai – Muslim beef shank soup
  • sticky rice
some of the dishes

Photos taken by @clerkenwell_boy

Just a short one from me today but keep up to date with ‘Som Saa’ by following them on Twitter, or get in touch with Andy or Tom, keep your eyes on any of these spaces and don’t miss their next event in the new year. Location and time still unknown but you can be sure that the Thai grill will be up and booming again in no time, I will see you there.


Sebby Holmes

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