Be it Chinese, Thai or Indian; I have always enjoyed a good takeaway or sit down meal. Standard Friday night behaviour whereby we would nip down to the local Chinese (Wok This Way… best name ever), order a chicken chow mein with side order of sweet and sour balls and wash it down with a couple of pints of some uninspired lager.
You can imagine my excitement when I heard about Oaka at The Mansion House. Not only have they created an infinitely more refined version of the above scenario but they are using award-winning ales. Awesome beer and Asian food… why didn’t I think of that!
Having begun this journey of pairing real ales and pan-Asian cuisine back in 1998, Paul Hook and Patcharee Shaweewan have brought this to London having been successful in Peterborough and Birmingham. The award-winning ales are from the Oakham Ale brewery in Peterborough; an exciting brewery creating ales with names such as Inferno, Asylum and my favourite Hare and Hedgehog.
At the table our waiter suggested we do a mini ale tasting to start. We tried five different ales ranging from the light JHB ale (3.8%) through to the Bishops Farewell (4.6%). They also have the rather aggressive Attila ale at 7.5% which we didn’t get to try. However, I am keen to return to give this one a whirl.
Onto the food where we started off with a selection of small, tasty starters known as Gap Glam (apparently Thai for beer food). Steamed dragon scallops with fresh ginger were flavoursome if a tiny bit overcooked. The Heavenly Beef and the Sai oua (spicy Thai sausage) lived up to their names admirably, both were completely delicious and more-ish although a word of caution if you cannot handle your spice as the sausages were certainly fiery. I always think you can tell how good a pan-Asian restaurant is by the saltiness of the edamame, and these were fairly salty! The tuna tartare was the only slight disappointment, too lumpy and more punch needed.
We moved on to the main event, a Thai green curry and a Japanese hot pot, the restaurant’s signature dish of slow-cooked chicken thighs in shoyu, sake, mirin and leeks. The green curry was extremely good, tasty and a good-sized portion with a plentiful number of baby aubergines. The Japanese hot-pot was decent enough with the key flavours shining through and running together well but, for me, the curry was better.
The restaurant had a good buzz for a Tuesday night, and got very lively after about 8.30pm. This is great news for a new restaurant in Kennington, an area of London which is undergoing a bit of a revival in recent years.
The integration of excellent ales with creative pan-Asian cuisine is certainly one that has impressed me and aside from the excellent food it is also really fun comparing the different ales and then being amazed at how well they compliment the Asian flavours on the plate. Definitely worth a visit.
Oaka at The Mansion House
48 Kennington Park Road
Tel: 020 7582 5599