48 Dean St, London W1D 5BF
ROSA'S IN SOHO
9 December 2013
Before I left for Paris I visited Rosa's, the relaxed cafe in Soho which has a reputation for good, fast, cheap Thai food. I'd only ever walked past before because it's always full. With a couple of tables outside, it's one of those places in summer with a little cluster of people out on the pavement - here drinking Chang beers - waiting for a table, so I decided to actually book ahead and see if it deserves to be on my list of London's best Asian restaurants along with Blue Elephant and Wabi.
The informal space strikes a balance between cosy and crowded and upon entering we were wedged in between a table of American jocks and a bunch of screeching girls. Hmm. I don't know if it was the acoustics, but everyone was rather loud and it was difficult to maintain a conversation without venturing into yelling territory. Still, that's not the restaurant's fault.
The food, however, was great. The menu has all the classics and old favourites you'd expect and modern takes on traditional dishes, along with some unusual plates. After the obligatory tom kha gai soup (I can't go to a restaurant which serves it and not have it) - which was flawless - and some crispy, fried soft shell crab to share, I chose something I hadn't had before - seafood mousse baked in a whole butternut squash, highlighted in red on the menu as one of their specialities.
It was like a fish stew, mixed with creamy coconut milk, tender vegetables and chopped hot chillies. Delicious and perfect warming food after a wintry day's Christmas shopping in the West End - in fact, it might be even better for lunch when the crowd might be a bit less rowdy. Either way, I'll be back as the food was good and inexpensive - give it a go if you haven't already.