Naamyaa Cafe

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what the critics say


Zoe Williams - 2/5

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - The squid wasn't too chewy, but it didn't have that beautiful texture that one associates with true freshness – where it feels very resistant on first bite, then gives way deliciously as you chew it. These tasted more like a starter from a moderately good Thai takeaway...Clearly, Naamyaa (the word means pot) is trying for an informal, all-day eating experience. But I wonder why Alan Yau wants to add to a market so crowded by his own creations (Wagamama, Busaba Eathai) without something more exciting to bring to the table.

The Independent

John Walsh - 7/15

Saturday, March 09, 2013 - It was a weird meal. The first half was so promising, the second so disastrous – as if the chap who understands about cooking simply took off at 2pm. There's something slapdash about the food that's at odds with the smartness of the décor and the service. There'll soon be a Naamyaa Café in a street near you, apparently. Try it by all means, for the spectacle – but it might be wise to leave soon after the ribs.

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I went to Naamyaa yesterday, hoping that the David Thompson connection would deliver the sort of punchy, authentic Thai food that's hard to find in London, and to be honest, it's all kind of underwhelming. If you like the food at Busaba, you'll probably like Naamyaa - but equally you may well prefer the food at Busaba. So I'm struggling to see why Yau and Thompson bothered with opening this particular chain, ready-packed for rolling out. Authencity isn't really a strong-point, with burgers, hot dogs and european salads cluttering up the menu. It's not like the Thai menu is long - so why not concentrate on a larger and better selection of Thai dishes? When you see the number of dishes a Bangkok street restaurant with a couple of woks can bang out, it puts this lot to shame. But then maybe London is crying out for Thai/Italian/burger fusion.

Aaanyway, having picked two starters and two mains from the short Thai menu it was all ok, quite well-flavoured and spiced, only the Thai calamari was odd (recipe was something like squid + utility madras curry powder, underfried = Thai calamari obviously). A standard slice of chocolate tart was fine. Drinks seem well overpriced, service a bit too attentive, but there's a lot of people wandering around looking for something to do before the place fills up, £60 for two excluding service. Overall, to compare it to its stablemates, better than a trip to Wagamama, not as good as Busaba. I don't think I'll be rushing back.
Comment on this reader review

Overall rating 7 stars
Food 6 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 5
Friday, January 18, 2013

My boyfriend and I had dinner here a couple of weeks ago. When we arrived we thought it was pretty busy but when we left, about 8.30pm on a Friday night, there was a queue around the block! I don't think the food is good enough to queue up in the cold for, but it was pretty good.

Drinks - dry January so no booze. I like the fact that they give you complimentary water BUT it took ages for it to arrive! I also ordered a carrot and coconut juice which was excellent.

We were greedy and had three starters between us to begin with... The spring rolls were excellent and had a really nice filling. The dip was also delicious. The sashimi was....weird. The fish was very fresh but there was not enough of the 'pesto' on it so tasted just as it would in a Japanese restaurant. We also had chicken satay - the sauce was nice but my boyfriend didn't really enjoy the chicken itself.

Mains - We both love spicy food. On recommendation I had the vegetarian naamyaa set. It was very nice and had a nice kick to it but I wasn't keen in on the inclusion of did specify that it contained this so I only have myself to blame! My boyfriend had the laksa - that was gorgeous and was the better out of the two. Next time I will go for this.

Service - this is where Naamyaa really fell down. There were lots of servers but no one seemed to know what they were doing! We waited an hour for our main meals and finally flagged one of them down who was surprised we hadn't received them. It seemed our food had been given to someone else. It also took ages to receive our drinks. Very haphazard!

We paid around £40 (without booze), but it could be cheaper if you are not as greedy as us.

Overall it was an enjoyable evening but arrive early if you do not wish to queue.
Comment on this reader review

Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 7
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Went last night with high expectations give the Hakkasan connection etc. Service was very friendly but it all went down hill from there. If you are going to put pictures of your dishes on the menu (tacky in my opinion) then at least make sure what you serve looks as good. It didn't. The salmon sushi was thrown on the plate and looked tired. The chicken noodle soup was greasy and bland. The prawn dish we had (so unmemorable I can't remember what it was) was just about okay but came with a pile of greasy chillies and other veg. Chicken satay was average. the atmosphere was okay but the trendy venue hides very very average food. We'd go to Wagamama before we went back here.
Comment on this reader review

Overall rating 6 stars
Food 3 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 4
Saturday, January 05, 2013

The bad news is that this restaurant isn't really that good, which is odd because the owner, Alan Yau, is quite famous for opening very good restauarants....and for founding Wagamama.

I say this deskpite regularly going to Cha Cha Moon, Yauatcha and Princi and sometimes going to Hakasan (if someone else is paying) and Busaba Eathai. I think the flaw is the concept: an italian/burger/thai fusion restaurant with pictures on the menu - if it wasn't an Alan Yau restaurant you wouldn't even walk through the door.

The professional reviews you read talk about the length of the menu, actually its quite short, just looking long because every dish is pictured. Since the menu is split into thai, Italian and burger/hotdog sections, the thai is not too long at all.

It looks nice and the staff are obviously trying hard. When you do get your food its okay, the ingredients are obviously fresh and the food does taste of something. Unfortunately we didn't find that something very enjoyable or flavoursome in the five dishes we had (we only tried the thai dishes).

I also personally think that the choice of naamyaa as a signature dish for the thai part of the menu is flawed, as you essentially get a set of assemble yourself dishes which doesn't look particularly appetising. My wife's rice dish of mince beef , basil and chilli was actually the best dish with the nice touch of a fried egg on top (although she complained it was too salty). We also had a couple of starters and a salad. The starters were okay-ish and although the salad had better quality and fresher ingredients than you would expect in a thai restaurant but I found the taste rather unappetising.

The bill was okay, but its very difficult to be enthusiastic about a restaurant where the food simply isn't that enjoyable.

I wouldn't venture to Islington to try this restaurant and if you are in the mood for Asian in Islington both Yipin (chinese) around the corner and Banana Tree (another Asian fusion place) across the road actually serve better food.
Comment on this reader review

Overall rating 4 stars
Food 1 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 1
Friday, December 28, 2012

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