Zaap, Nottingham’s latest Thai Street-Food style restaurant offering has appeared on Bromley Place next to Oaks. I ate there a few weeks ago, so sorry for the delay in getting this post up…..
I am not sure what to make of Bromley Place yet, it is a nice little open space, but what do you do with it, right next to the busy and unrelenting traffic of Maid Marian Way? are the restaurants going to have tables out there? (which they would have in any other European country without a doubt). Anyway, it is currently a bit of an odd space.
Zaap is bold and brash (in a good way) and when we arrived for lunch, pretty busy (you can’t book in advance). Like, Thaikhun, another Thai Street Food place recently opened in the newly developing Victoria Centre food court, Zaap is styled to put you in mind of the busy, colourful streets of Bangkok and it does it pretty well, I think. It is a huge space, probably with slightly fewer more intimate areas to eat in than Thaikhun, but on the other hand there are a number of colourful Tuk Tuks kitted out as eating spaces which give a sense of private/party space. It is amazing what a bit of imagination can do to a rather uninspiring (on the outside) building. Like Thaikhun, Zaap has an open kitchen, I love an open kitchen….(great bit of extraction there as well, as no smoke or fumes despite all the activity!).
My lunch companion went for the Chicken Satay to start, which was, surprisingly in fact, proper chicken (not the reformed stuff that is so ubiquitous in this dish) and I, possibly emboldened by the superb squid at Thaikkun, went for the battered squid. The Satay was good, the Squid was, I’m afraid, a little bit of a disappointment, slightly chewy – didn’t finish it. Such a shame, maybe I was just unlucky?
For mains, I went for a pork panaeng curry with lime leaves, which was actually pretty good. Rich and flavoursome, with tender slivers of pork and some really good Jasmine rice, and my companion went for Pad Pak Kanar/Moo Krob – stir fried Spring Greens with oyster sauce, garlic and chilli with an addition of crispy belly pork, which she declared to be “really good”. Can’t fault our mains, really delicious, and made up for the slight disappointment of my squid.
We decided to share a dessert and, living on the edge – as we do – went for something neither of us had tried before – Sa La Pao Sang Ka Ya, Plain steamed buns with home-made pandanus custard. To be fair, we had no idea what we had ordered, but our server kindly explained that “pandanus” is a plant, the leaves of which are crushed to extract a sweet vanilla-like juice. We went with it…
This was a first for us both, and I think we liked it. As I persevered, it did grow on me. How can I describe it – a sort of hot, sweet, very thick, very green, blancmange, served with steamed buns that have a slightly “memory-foam” type consistency on the outside and a light, white bread interior. These steamed buns are the ‘go to’ bun for street-food it seems at the moment, and they are intriguing if you haven’t come across them before. The custard didn’t taste of vanilla, it was more earthy, slightly woody (in a good way) but actually, I really rather liked it. Thank you Zaap, for offering something I had never tasted before.
Zaap is only recently opened and there were a couple of glitches – my bottle of beer arrived with no glass, for example……now I am not one to needlessly stand on ceremony, and I can get with the street-food vibe, but still I don’t want to drink out of a bottle when I am enjoying a leisurely lunch. I requested a glass and got one, but unfortunately the previous customer’s lipstick was still on it….. we also had to chase up our mains after an hour, as the “ticket had been lost” and we were offered some complimentary prawn crackers to nibble on while we waited. To be fair, I guess these things happen, and Zaap have been very keen to take the feedback on and make amends, so fair enough, I think.
Overall, we enjoyed our lunch, and I am sure the service glitches were just that. I think the offer is slightly different from Thaikhun’s and that is a good thing. There is, I am sure, room for both in Nottingham and Zaap seems like it will be great fun in the evenings. We had two starters, two mains, 1 dessert and 4 beers for around £50, I don’t reckon that is too bad. I would go back, but I’d hold on the squid.