On the eighth day, God created brunch. And He saw that it was good. And He loosened his belt, and He rested. Brunch is on the rise, it seems. Neither breakfast, nor lunch, it caters for those like me – the interminably picky. What better way to start the weekend than with an assortment of breakfast/lunch items that really should never be seen together on a plate. But whilst everyone’s at it, brunch always leaves me wanting more. Metaphorically. Could Alan Yau‘s Naamyaa Cafe (of Wagamama/Hakkasan/Yautacha/etc fame) sate the insatiable?
A self-labelled ‘cosmopolitan Bangkok cafe’, at Naamyaa East meets West with a focus on both Thai dishes and more British home comforts. The restaurant itself is similarly a modern fusion of green, gold and wood. Think Buddhist temple-cum-penthouse suite. It’s an Alan Yau venture, after all. The space has been utilised beautifully, and the view overlooking St John Street provides ample entertainment. It’s a comfortable, brunchable place. So good so far. Again, in the Yau-style, service is fantastic, as to be expected.
But how about the food? The menu is difficult. The last thing one wants on a Saturday morning, head sore and mouth dry from the previous boozy evening, is a confusing pictorial menu spread out over five pages: hot breakfasts, thai breakfasts, oven eggs, fruits and grains, rice sets, noodle sets, salads, small plates, grills, burgers and hot dogs, and snacks. Where to start? With much relief, we allowed the kitchen to choose a selection of dishes for us.
A refreshing start was the Rice Cake Salad (£3.80), a good kick of coriander, spring onion, chilli and crunchy rice cakes (but more crunch please!). Next, Chicken Laksa (£8.50), a generous portion of braised chicken, fine noodles, and bean sprouts in a flavoursome coconut-based curry was authentic as any I’ve had in Malaysia, my only complaint being its greasiness. Naamyaa Goong (£9.50), their signature dish of fiery seafood curry with noodles was excellently spiced, but unfortunately the broth was lukewarm and the noodles overcooked. Pan-fried Turnip Cake (£6.50) – sticky, spicy and savoury with fried egg, bean sprouts and spring onions – was pleasant, and strangely addictive, however, the turnip had been reduced to a cloying, soggy mush. Kudos throughout this, however, to the kitchen’s ability to cater to my companion’s nut allergy – not an easy thing to do with Asian cuisine. It’s difficult to go wrong with Chocolate brownie with yoghurt ice cream (£4.50), but I’d especially recommend the Mascarpone ice cream with strawberry coulis and Thai basil (£4.50) to end a meal. Both provided some relief from the umami onslaught of the previous dishes.
Naamyaa Cafe is a fun venue and is sure to be a hit. I expect more will be rolled out over most of London soon, but whilst it might be a convenient, well-priced pit-stop, it will probably never be a destination. Never mind; as the Buddha said, ‘it is better to travel well, than to arrive’. And so the search for brunch continues…
Naamyaa Cafe, St John Street
Food; 6 Service; 9 Ambience; 9
edgeandspoon was a guest of the launch of Naamyaa’s Weekend Brunch