While the City is dead on the weekends, the masses of workers who linger in the area for Friday drinks can make places around Liverpool Street pretty festive. Jon and I, being lightweights and slightly anti-social, always break off from drinks at some point to find food, and so we were thrilled yesterday to find good, cheap Thai food at Rosa’s, near Spitalfields Market.
Of course, we didn’t stumble upon Rosa’s randomly. Guy Diamond over at TimeOut was enthusiastic about it a few weeks ago, and I liked this description: “Although the dishes are (mostly) the familiar roll call, there is a freshness and honesty about the cooking.” That sentence sums up our experience, too. Lamb satay was tender and the peanut sauce wasn’t the muddy glop you normally get at cheap (and even expensive) Thai places. Rather, it was sweet, tangy and slightly spicy. Actually, now that I think about it, all the dishes we tried had the heat and balance of four flavors (sour, sweet, creamy, salty) prized in Thai cooking.
Softshell crab starter was juicy and fresh; my pork green curry was filled with bamboo shoots and the most tender pork imaginable (no boiled meat-in-curry here); and Jon’s pad see eu was hot out of the wok and not greasy.
Our only disappointments were (1) the downstairs seating (You want to be upstairs where it’s warm and cozy, though some of the tables are communal. The basement feels like – um – a basement); and (2) the overcooked and overpriced side dish of vegetables. For £6 a careless side dish, you should probably just get another main course that happens to have vegetables in it.
Because the prices are low (most mains are £7-9) and the decor is inviting, Rosa’s is already drawing big groups out to celebrate, so I could see that getting annoying if all you want is a quick, quiet dinner. But overall, it’s nice to know Rosa’s is in the area next time I’m craving good-quality, inexpensive Thai food.
Our tab for two starters, two mains, a side dish and two beers was £46 with service.
Rosa’s, 12 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR, 0207 247 1093; closest tube station: Liverpool Street