Fourth time lucky.

Originally posted 24th August 2019

I am back. Apologies. No excuses really.

A few things which have changed since my last post god-knows-when:

  • I am slimmer (by definition this means that when I hold in my gut, my belly goes flat.  This is a first).
  • I am safe and sound in the UK.  This has dual-meaning as it refers both to me still enjoying life back home after Dubai, and that the perfect storm of Brexit-related chaos, knife crime and overcrowding on the Tube hasn’t reduced me to a twitching wreck just yet, but I will keep you posted.
  • I am a first time Director of Human Resources.  This was a goal of mine that I banged on about a lot in my early years on my blog.  Mission accomplished, but it basically means that I have a lot more work to do, in less time…
  • …as I am also studying for my level seven human resources qualification.  Why I didn’t do this in the land of brunch, sun and permatan (Dubai, not Essex), I will never know.
  • I am eating a lot less meat.  That’s not to say I have gone veggie or vegan like half the country, but I am certainly trying to curb my carnivorism – especially in the week – partly due to it being a great way to lose the flab, but also it enables me to do my (admittedly small) bit to ensure I can retire breathing oxygen, not carbon dioxide;
  • I have yet another new blog.  This is due to the first one being still online, but being locked out from it, the second one being shut down as I didn’t control spamming on the comment boxes and the third one simply disappearing.  Luckily I saved the posts from all three and will re-upload here slowly but surely.

So yes, I am back.  Ready to talk about food in my roundabout, rambling way.  I have backronymed the name ‘TFT’ from ‘The Funky Truth’ to ‘The Food Thing’.  It just makes so much more sense and seeing there is a band called ‘The Funky Truth’ with forty-three followers on Facebook, I wouldn’t want to tread on their toes.  So, where shall we begin?

Well, how about here, with an experience that ticks all the boxes of change above.  To start with one amazing thing hasn’t changed.  The European is still on the scene, and we are happily living in the southest and eastest of South-East London.  The other weekend, after the gym (‘slimmer’ change: check), she needed to get some work done at her hotel, in Kensington.  I offered was forced to come along to keep her company, on the promise that she knew a really ripping place to get food afterwards. She also wanted me to experience her hellish commute, as travelling from SE18 to Kensington on a daily basis is – ahem – not great (tube overcrowding: check).  Once at Kensington, I parked up in the hotel’s lobby, had a chat with a old colleague who was now working there, about the upcoming employee engagement survey results (first-time Director of Human Resources: check) and, once he headed off, took out my coursework (studying: check), and settled down to some reading about learning interventions until The European had finished working in the office above.

After an excruciatingly long time, she appeared, flounced around the lobby chatting to colleagues before doing her tried-and-tested “well COME ON THEN” routine, making it seem like I was the one wasting time. I obediently acquiesced, and off we trotted, her leading me to Siam Secret, just off Hogarth Road, super-near Earl’s Court Station.

Siam Secret is one of those wonderfully mysterious Asian restaurants – the ones with no website – but an abundance of diners who hail from the same country as the cuisine.  In this case, it’s Thai, but despite The European virtually guaranteeing to me on the walk there that it’s usually jam-packed with Thai diners, when we arrived the restaurant was virtually empty save for a table of two posh middle-aged white males getting heavily refreshed on wine and not much food at all in the restaurant’s quaint little courtyard, tucked well-away off the street.  Hence the name ‘secret’, I guess.

The two men seemed happy in their own company and made a meal out of explaining to us that it was going to rain any minute and that we should dine inside (translate that to “leave us alone out here while we get to work on our fifth bottle of Chardonnay”) so we headed inside, as it did indeed look like the heavens were going to open.  Once inside, and subjected to the deafening silence of a large, empty restaurant, we decided to take our chances with the drunks and weather and headed back out to a table in the courtyard.

It was a bit of a flying lunch so we didn’t deep-dive into Siam Secret’s menu, but we loved what we had.  Calamari with chilli was probably the best squid I have eaten for a long while – huge, tender chunks, battered and slathered in a sticky and spicy dressing – disguising this starter as a meal in itself.  Edamame were delicately seasoned and plentiful.  Afterwards, The European took a chicken red curry with egg rice, with a heat so smoky and rich that even yours-truly – a lightweight – could happily eat it.  The chicken was soft; not at all overdone and the egg rice, while not scintillating, was on point and very complimentary.  I had noodles with minced beef – a rare foray into meat for me these days, but it was worth it; surprisingly light and refreshing for what was basically a ton of mince and noodles.  Everything we ate did seem to be lovingly prepared and very obviously ‘proper’ Thai as opposed to a diluted British version of my favour Asian cuisine.

The scrumptious food was washed down with Singha beer, obviously, all delivered by a single server-cum-hostess who was running the show on this quiet Sunday afternoon. As the meal progressed, we really felt for her as she was attracting the unwanted attention of the drunks, until they mercifully staggered off as we were settling up.

Siam Secret is not the cheapest quaint little Asian you will find in the city.  If you’re thinking its style is like Mien Tay or Sông Quê on Kingsland Road then you’re a million miles away, not just in terms of distance and cuisine, but in ruggedness too.  Siam Secret’s dining room, restrained menu offering and service are all greatly refined, but still comforting, traditional and easy-going.  Well-recommended for a classy Asian lunch or dinner.  Less so for middle-aged Eton alumni using the place as an upmarket version of Wetherspoons.

Siam Secret is literally across the road from Earl’s Court Station.  Two starters, two mains and four beers came to around £fifty five.

  • Comfort factor: 8/10
  • Returnability factor: 8/10
  • Taste factor: 7/10
  • Screaming kid factor: 3/10
  • Wow factor: 5/10

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