It’s been seven years since som saa launched its first permanent site to great acclaim on Commercial Street in Spitalfields. And now the founding duo of Mark Dobbie and Andy Oliver have just opened their follow up, on the doorstep of another famous London market, this time pitching up south of the river at Borough Market with new spot Kolae.
Kolae is in a lovely old building next to Neal’s Yard Dairy, with plenty of exposed brick and original features. There’s a big open kitchen with counter seating and a few other tables on the ground floor and then two extra dining rooms on the two floors above. We were on the middle floor looking out over Borough Market, packed into a busy room on a cold November night – a great place to be but it was so loud in there, so maybe not one to take the parents.
Your parents would probably shy away from the spice levels too, which are particularly mouth-burning on a few particular dishes – but that’s fine by us. Much of the menu focuses on on grilled dishes and kolae (also known as Golae, Galae and Gaw Lae), a cooking technique found in the south of Thailand where ingredients are soaked in a curry-like coconut marinade before hitting the grill. Excellent cases in point from that department can be found in the must-order mussel skewer snack (get two each) and the chicken bamboo skewer from the selection of ‘larger plates’.
Other winning dishes for us included the crispy fried prawn heads with turmeric and garlic, and the red kabocha squash with ajaad relish, which ended up being our favourite of the bigger dishes. We also enjoyed the prawn, snake fruit and shrimp paste relish with fresh crunchy vegetables, and the sour mango salad with roasted coconut and dry fish – though if you’re less of a fan of chilli, then you might want to steer away from those last two as they pack a serious punch. The southern gati curry of wild sea bass is a gentler, but still very good place to go.
Kolae is an excellent addition to both Borough Market and to London’s ever-advancing line up of standout Thai restaurants, which now offer a great variety of styles and specialisms. som saa was always going to be a tough act to follow but Kolae is another winner for the team, and well worth checking out.
6 Park Street, London, SE1 9AB