SUDA Covent Garden
23 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9AB
020 7240 8010
SUDA has been open for just over a year and is a sister outlet to the already well-established Soho restaurant Patara. Handily positioned off Longacre in Covent Garden, my guest and I went on a busy Wednesday lunchtime and were intrigued to see if the self-styled Thai Cafe Restaurant could deliver the authentic flavours that she,as someone whose early years were spent in Bangkok, finds so irresistible.
One of the reasons for going to SUDA at this time is for their Oyster Festival. They are serving 4 Maldon Oysters with dressings including a spicy Thai vinaigrette, Crisp shallots, Lemongrass and Lemon for £6 with an additional £4 for a glass of champagne . This is not only great value but a delicious way to start the meal. The oysters were creamy and full flavoured and well matched by the glass of Bernard Remy Champagne which had notes of honey and yeast.
SUDA does an Express lunch (£7.50) which features a choice of three curries with spring rolls, rice and mixed vegetables. But an Express lunch doesn’t really fit in to the Hedonist’s world view and went for a more languorous jaunt through the fairly lengthy menu.
We started with Vegetable Spring rolls (£4.50) which were served piping hot with a sweet chilli sauce. They were crisp on the outside but the vegetables still had plenty of crunch as they should.
Our other starter was Tofu and fresh leaves in a rice noodle wrap (£4.50).Thai cuisine is a magpie culture taking influences from many others and this dish with its use of coriander and a chilli and vinegar dip showed a clear Vietnamese influence. I love the interplay between the herbs, the tofu and the softness of the noodle.
For our drinks my guest ordered the Lemongrass iced tea which tasted like authentic Thai ice tea with the zing of the lemongrass cutting through the sweetness. I had a Lemongrass Bellini which worked really well with the main courses and was perfect in context.
For mains we had the Sizzling Sea bass in kaffir lime leaf red curry sauce (£10.50)-three fillets came in a red curry and coconut milk sauce. There was enough heat from the curry with the coconut giving the dish a natural sweetness. With this dish we ordered Coconut rice (£2.75) and Pak Choy in oyster sauce (£5.50). The rice was delicious and blended well with the curry. The greens in oyster sauce were fine but the sauce was a bit watery for my liking.
Prawn Pad Thai (£9.50) (which translates as Thai Fry) is one of the dishes that is found on every Thai menu in the UK and on none in Thailand. The Thais would buy a similar dish from a vendor choosing their noodle style, whether to have it wet as a soup or dry and selecting from a range of toppings. We chose to have the thin white rice noodles and the dish was a really good blend of the seafood, vegetable, nut and noodle elements that make it up.
Suda offers a strong range of desserts. Coconut ice cream with sticky rice (£3.95) came with a topping of unsalted peanuts and slivers of coconut. In Bangkok this kind of dessert would be sold by the local ice cream vendor who would turn up on a bicycle-you would choose your toppings and the resulting concoction would be served in a bread roll.
Mango with sticky rice (£5.95) came with slightly salted sticky rice and mangoes flown in from Thailand which are fantastic. A great mix of salt and sweet flavours.
I really enjoyed my meal at SUDA. The food was delicious and the service charming. The Kitchen staff are Thai and you don’t feel that what is on your plate has been made more accessible for the western palate. If you can’t get out to Thailand to eat in the wonderful outdoor cafes SUDA really does give you a sense of that type of experience.
The Hedonist and his guest were eating at SUDA by invitation from the restaurant.