Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published December 14th 2013
What's Your Style?
Sama Asian Kitchen
Only two weeks old, Sama is a healthy fast food restaurant inspired by the markets of southeast Asia. Located on Wimbledon Broadway, directly opposite the Odeon, Sama's bold black and hot pink logo had been intriguing me for weeks. Every time I walked by, I would stop to see what was going on. From signs saying 'we're hiring' to 'coming soon', patience was eventually rewarded with a stylish looking place to eat. It is what I like to call a DIY restaurant, where you get to create your own fusion of flavours. Not only is is a fusion of food, but a fusion of design too: Traditional Chinese lanterns hang from the ceiling, chic pink plates hang on the walls, and cork board creates an industrious look.
I often think modern designs can be quite cold, but stepping into Sama made me feel warm and all aglow, despite the fact that it was raining and the front door was wide open.
As with most fast food restaurants, you place your order at the counter. Unlike most fast food restaurants, the atmosphere is calm, quiet, relaxed, and the food is healthy. The price is pretty good too. You start off with a set price of £7.45, and then can extras for 50p-£1.
First you choose your base: rice (brown or jasmine), noodles (hot or chilled), soup (rice or noodle), or Asian salad.
Next pick your protein: (chicken, duck, meatballs, vegetarian dumplings). The option of vegetables include roasted sweetcorn, green beans, mushrooms, or sweet potato.
Add sauce: green curry, red curry, katsu sauce, or their speciality Sama sauce. If you don't know which one to pick, they pour you a small cup to taste.
Choose your crunch: papaya slaw, pickle, or soup mix. And finally you can have a garnish of peanuts, Thai herbs,crispy garlic, or crispy shallots.
I went for hot noodles with duck, sweetcorn, mushrooms, shallots, and herbs. For the sauce, I asked what katsu was, and was told it tasted like sweet carrots. The waiter gave me a sample, and I thought it was very nice, but what something a bit hotter, so chose red curry. I was quite surprised when she dished it out, because it was actually more of a yellow colour. My dad chose a very similar dish, except swapping my veggies for green beans and sweet potato, and adding some extra slaw. We also decided to share some prawn crackers, which are £2.50, and comes with a sweet chilli sauce.
The drinks menu is very limited; there is only one type of wine (Shiraz), beer (Asian), and soft drink, and no option of tea and coffee. You can, however, have a fresh young coconut with an optional vodka shot.
Prawn crackers aren't served in a bowl.
Sama Asian Kitchen is very geared towards people getting a takeaway. Even if you decide to eat in, you are given plastic cutlery, and the prawn crackers are in a paper bag rather than a bowl.
Dad went a little heavy with the wasabi.
There were lots of condiments on the table to choose from: soy sauce, chilli sauce, hoisin sauce, chilli flakes, and wasabi flakes. Dad asked me what this was, and I told him it was Japanese mustard. I then saw him liberally sprinkle the wasabi all over his dish before I had a chance to warn him how hot it is. A few seconds later, he was having a right old cough.
Once he'd learnt his lesson, we both avoided that shaker. We were frequent users of the hoisin though, which complimented the duck beautifully. Dad thought that there needed to be more duck, and while I was happy with my portion, I was a little disappointed that it came in a kind of minced form, rather than in slices.
After a hot meal, we would both have liked an ice cream to cool our palate, but unfortunately Sama do not do desserts. We had gone out for dinner, but because of its limited menu, I think it is best suited to lunchtime. Their lunchtime offer is very good value for money; up until 4pm, you can have any bowl for £5.
Since Sama is a new restaurant, our meals were accompanied by feedback forms, asking for our opinions. I gave my suggestions for improvements, and only time will tell if they are followed through. In the mean time, however, I would be quite happy to go back and try a new fusion.