Review: Bohemian neighbourhood den Southam Street

Southam Street interior

Funky little sister of much-appraised 108 Garage, one of my standout restaurants of last year, Southam Street is just a short tootle along from the pastel-flushed frontages of Portobello Road. Bringing tropical boho vibes to this vintage-inspired pocket of Portobello in London, the surrounding influences have clearly imbued the bohemian setting of Southam Street, gloriously wallpapered in tropical palms to within a glamorous inch of its life.

Swishing upstairs, we head to the exotic den that comprises the Southam bar and lounge, adjacent to the raw bar where the sushi masters prep their immaculate offerings. We reach the top floor, home to the velveteen-clad tequila and mezcal parlour that leads to a shady terrace where we are seated.

Korean chicken bao

Trying a few dishes from the raw, robata grill and sushi sections of the menu was a great way to experience the Asian-meets-West-meets-south-America fusion concept. The steamed bao bun with Korean fried chicken was a rather gourmet take on your humble high street KFC. Adding a spicy edge, the crunch of the double-fried chicken contrasted against the soft, steamed bao bun for added texture.

Soft shell crab harumaki

Reminiscent of the fantastically fresh summer rolls we found in Vietnam, soft shell crab harumaki had all the right fresh and sour notes. With an accompanying hot, sour nuoc cham dipping sauce, these were moreish morsels on the small plates assortment of the menu.

Sae-woo pops

Sae-woo pops definitely lived up to their name and popped out of the menu as an intriguing signature dish. These hot little pops were king prawn and lobster cakes, with fiery ochujang mayonnaise and shredded seaweed, alongside some expertly mixed cocktails fresh from the bar.

Wagyu burger & dirty fries

Dirty fries in general would not be my first choice on the order if I’m being honest, however these fulfilled the husband’s hunger pangs more than adequately. A Southam Street favourite, so we were told, these indulgent fries were topped with curry sauce and of lashings of melted cheese. Dirty fries indeed. Likewise, the wagyu beef slider burger with melted emmental was another crowd pleaser, with tangy pickled onion taking off the edge.

Tuna tartare fusion

Perched on seaweed crisps, the yellowtail tuna from the tartare fusion raw section was perfection with the citrusy yuzu truffle sauce.

Chimichurri sirloin steak

Chef’s choice on the grill section came as a charred sirloin with a smorgasbord of delightful sauces. I could detect shiso leaf in the herby chimichurri sauce, adding a Japanese edge to the flavourful cuts of sirloin, while yakiniki had caramelised teriyaki richness.

Smoked churo-turo tuna

Recommended to us for its theatrical leanings, the smoked churo-toro tuna from the raw section of the menu had our neighbours drooling with envy! Being the kind sports we are, we happily shared with our neighbouring diners – which seemed typical of the friendly, local feel of this neighbourhood venue. Smoky embers lingered long after the cloche had lifted. The drizzle of panca soy, and the Nikkei fusion of this Peruvian-Japanese dish really worked, with the smokiness of the spicy chimichurri salsa fusing.

Truffle yellowtail sushi

Sushi rolls were another foray into fusion territory. Being a truffle maniac, I was most enamoured by this creation, with the achingly fresh yellowtail sushi topped with addictive yuzu truffle sauce. Alongside, we tried some of the mellow sake which was the ideal accompanying palate-cleanser.

Strawberry chawan mushi

Looking like a botanical celebration strewn with pansies and fresh summer berries, the fresh strawberry chawan mushi was a sight to behold. Underneath lay a rich and creamy riff on a Japanese-style panna cotta, recommended by knowledgeable host Marco.

Chocolate fondant

Molten and bursting with cocoa, the chocolate mouelleux was the epitome of fondant-oozing perfection. Cooling house-made matcha green tea ice cream perfected the combination with an Asian touch.

Inspired by the sprawling culinary influences of Asia and South America, Southam Street is clearly a distinctive execution in comparison to 108 Garage, making its own mark already with locals swooning over the unique, sharing-style theatrical fusion concept. And those from further afield should be more than willing to visit this destination restaurant to keep the locals company.

Southam Street

36 Golborne Road, London, W10 5PR

About Lili Levi

When not gorging her face in London restaurants, Lili can be found prowling street feast markets and cooking up a storm for ‘Come Dine with Me’ parties. A few of her favourite restaurants currently are L’Autre Pied, Typing Room and sketch Lecture Room. She enjoys a good bake-off but the weirdest cake she ever made was a green marshmallow grasshopper pie.

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