Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Restaurant Review: Nahm, London

Ma Hor

Last week I made it to Nahm in London's Belgravia to celebrate a friend's birthday. I first heard of Nahm's Michelin starred Thai food before I left for Australia. It was somewhere I nearly visited for a farewell meal but, alas, didn't make it.

They may no longer have a Michelin star, but reading Trina's recent report on her visit to Nahm's Bangkok outpost reminded me that it was somewhere I wanted to visit. I booked a table in a flash.

It may be four years since I first hoped to visit, but the wait has done me good. Having spent a short time living in Thailand, meeting the chef David Thompson in Sydney and taking the Sailors Thai cookery course I now feel I appreciate Thai food a lot more. Nahm's traditional Thai recipes would have been lost on me before.

Located in a smart London hotel the dining room has a swish feel. The restaurant was smaller then I expected with lots of bare wood and every food bloggers nightmare: mood (aka read dark) lighting.

We ordered the set menu and dived in. We had our favourite dishes, but all of the food was excellent. Authentic Thai flavours, incredible knife skills, well balanced flavours, some new tastes and a few English ingredients thrown in too.

It was a grazing menu with series of appetisers and starters, before hitting three main courses and climaxing with desert.

Ma Hor - minced prawns and chicken simmered in palm sugar, with deep fried shallots, garlic and peanuts served on pineapple and mandarin - was our first appetiser. The prawn and chicken mix was sweet, mild and chewy. The fruit added a welcome burst of acidity to cut through the sweetness. I preferred the mandarin with it's explosion of juice in your mouth.

Kanom krok gung wiset

Next came a plate which contained a trio of three more substantial appetisers. We first tried the Kanom krok gung wiset - coconut cupcakes with red curry of langoustine. The fragrant red curry paste had a delayed kick of chilli and hid small pieces of langoustine. The coconut baskets reminded me of Sri Lankan hoppers.

Kanom muang gai kem

Middle of the trio was kanom muang gai kem - wafers of salted chicken with lemongrass and basil. The wafers tasted of palm sugar and were crisp in places and soft in others. A clear taste of lemongrass came through. I didn't detect much Thai basil and the chicken wasn't overly salty.

Miang

Our final taster was my favourite of the appetisers. The miang - roasted peanuts and salak with caramel dressing served on betel leaves - were a winner. The distinctive betel leaf flavour was a constant flavour throughout and not over powered by the spices. The roasted peanuts tasted like the essence of Thai food. There was a lasting heat that I was tasting for minutes afterwards.

Yam king gap gung mangkorn

Appetisers over the 'starter' arrived. The yam king gap gung mangkorn - salad of lobster with rambutans, lemongrass and young ginger - was accompanied by an excellent soup.

The sweet lobster was accompanied by a delicate balance of lime fish sauce and coriander. The mouthfuls which contained rambutan and fried shallots had an extra dimension. The salad had a mile lip tingling chilli.

Geng jeut fak

I enjoyed the geng jeut fak - clear soup of green melon, chanterelles, egg and crab - much more than I was expecting. The clear chicken broth had a clean flavour that really highlighted the spring onion and crab. I didn't find any green melon, but detected some cucumber? By the end of the soup there was a slightly numbing and drying sensation.

Geng sap nok

Next up was a trio of main courses. The red curry was one of the hottest dishes of the night and brought a glistening perspiration to my forehead. The geng sap nok - minced quail with ginger, green beans and Thai basil - was rich and spicy.

Whoever prepared the curry has some seriously impressive knife skills. Precisely and minutely julienned lemongrass, lime leaf and basil were generously folded through the curry. The flavour of the quail was over powered by the red curry sauce. Not listed on the menu we found some diced green apple in the sauce.

Neua pat gung haeng sai makreue pak

Venison is definitely not a meat I'd associated with Thailand. The neua pat gung haeng sai makreue pak - stir fried venison with dried prawns and apple aubergines - was perhaps the only disappointment of the evening. The spices were almost indistinguishable as the venison was left to be the star of the dish.

We both enjoyed the venison more when we added some of the incredibly fiery dipping sauce that was brought out with the lobster salad. Scud chillies, fish sauce and I'm suspecting some tamarind too was awesome, but I had to administer it with a pipet so that it didn't take my head off!

Shrimp paste simmered with coconut milk

Our final main course was described as a shrimp paste served with double braised mackerel rather than the other way round. The shrimp paste simmered with coconut milk was another of the top dishes of the evening. Made with fresh prawns, it only had a mild flavour of shrimp paste.

Lon gapi

The double braised mackerel had a slightly sweetness. It came served with a salad of Thai basil, cucumber, star fruit, green mango and a couple of other leaves I don't know the names of.

Kanom babin ga som chum

We were able to select desserts from the a la carte menu. I chose the kanom babin ga som chum. A wonderfully fresh coconut came came served with a bowl of pandan ice, green mango, rambutan and sweetcorn. The pandan ice was another of my favourites.

Kanom mor geng peuak ga kao mao bot

Our final dish of the evening was the kanom mor geng peuak ga kao mao bot. The taro and coconut cake was a new flavour for me and with the taro dominating. The deep friend taro crisps were sweet and crunchy. The cake was served with three white ancestor biscuits. Made young coconut they were light and soft. A real high to end on.

I thoroughly enjoyed Nahm. The service and food were impecable. I left the restaurant replete with a warming fire burning in the pit of my stomach.

I enjoyed it so much I've added Nahm to my Top Eats page.

Nahm
Halkin Hotel
5 Halkin St
London
SW1X 7DJ
Nahm on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. i'll need to add to my wish list now if i'm ever back in London way :-)

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  2. Looks delicious Richard and definitely brings back memories of Nahm in Bangkok. One difference I did note was the abundance of expensive crustaceans in your meal compared to mine - lobsters, langoustines.. I'm jealous!

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