Friday, 12 February 2016

Laos Café by Saiphin: a pop up



You know what it's like when you reach the end of a long day at work, and things have gone pretty good that day – well, if you are anything like me, you want to do a little toast to yourself with an alcoholic beverage (or two). I WhatsApped my boyfriend because the last thing I wanted to do was perform my celebrations sat on the sofa in my pajamas (as per every other night...). Oh no, tonight was Friday night, my friends, and I was going to get myself down to the pub and dissect what a good job I'd done...!

The thing is, I've found once you are in your late 20s, you can't really just go drinking on a Friday night on an empty stomach. Especially not after you ate a salad for lunch in a passing effort to be healthy. So, I suggested a local pub to us, The Queen's Arms in Pimlico. As we approached, a group of ten (no exaggerations) people walked in in front of us. No room at the inn. I'd come this far, albeit a ten-minute walk from my flat, and I wasn't going to cave and get a pizza and G&T tinnies from Sainsburys, however tempting that might seem.
We decided to walk around a bit and 'do a recce'. It's slim pickings that close to Victoria station. You've got a Nandos and a Giraffe and a very suspect looking Mexican place, where they make you wear a sombrero.

Laos Cafe is a pop-up restaurant by Saiphin Moore of 'Rosa’s Thai Cafe', a small chain of restaurants, the original of which is in Spitalfields. I didn't actually know this until I got home and Googled it as the design in the restaurant is sparse, what with it being a pop up and all. There are three black and white photos looking down on you from the walls (maybe Saiphin's family members?), and that's about it.There's a small choice of four 'nibbles', around ten sharing dishes and then side dishes of sticky rice wrapped in palm leaves or rice vermicelli. Dessert is homemade coconut ice-cream, which is ordinarily my favourite but I was too full to try it. 

The best dish was the minced pork. Served on a huge iceberg lettuce leaf with an abundance of fresh mint and dill, the pork was bursting with lime, ginger, chilli, coconut and roasted peanuts. The minced duck was way too spicy for us, with dried chillies peppered over it   good for those that can handle their heat. We needed a few sips of the Chang beer to wash it down. The Pad Thai, a nod to Saiphin's Thai restaurants I'm guessing, was authentic, which prawns cooked to perfection, not rubbery in any way. The other highlight was the seared beef, which was tender, pink and well seasoned. The only thing I wasn't such a big fan of was the little sausages. They had a strange flavour and a tough skin. 

You are close enough to other tables to hear their conversations, so our neighbouring diners leant over to ask what dishes were good and what were spicy – they were up for the challenge! There's a really chilled atmosphere in the restaurant and the service is great. Food comes quickly and servers appear when you need them. While we were there, the place was full, and there was a stream of walk ins arriving to book for another day. Only sad thing is that it's not going to be there forever and I couldn't find any information about when the pop up ends. Better get there quick

Meal was £57 for two, including a couple of beers and a tip.

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