Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Reply From Rosa's

I don't often get feedback from restaurants so I was genuinely surprised to receive an e-mail from Alex Moore of Rosa's. Truth be told, I was a bit apprehensive given that I'd written a less than glowing review of the Soho branch of Rosa's. Anyway, it was with some relief that the e-mail was a lunch invitation to discuss my comments about their calamari and pad Thai dishes with Alex and his wife, Saiphin.

I accepted the invitation; after all, you don't often get the opportunity to offer feedback to restaurant owners in the flesh. I thought I was just going to have a chat so it came as a bit of a surprise when Saiphin told me that she had been working on ideas on how to improve both dishes.

Thai calamari - well what's left of a full portion...
First up was the Thai calamari that in my opinion was underseasoned. To rectify this, Saiphin added a ground mix of salt, white pepper, coriander root, lemongrass, and palm sugar to the batter. This definitely gave the calamari more zing, which was amplified when tossed in a wok fried mix of diced onion, red and green peppers, deep-fried chillies, lime leaves and lemongrass. The plum sauce also complemented this dish well, and all told it was a big improvement.

Pad Thai with king prawns
Next up was the pad Thai, which I thought was too sweet. Saiphin didn't necessarily agree with my point of view, although how sweet something tastes is very much a subjective opinion. This time round, the pad Thai was better balanced but still a bit too sweet for my taste.

Lamb satay
Beef green curry - I forgot to take a photo before it was nearly gone
I also sampled lamb satay and beef green curry to get a better feel for Rosa's menu. Both were above par, in particular the green curry that was pepped up with lesser galangal and a mix of other ingredients that remain a secret. It was one of the best Thai curries I've tasted in a long time.

During lunch, I also gained an insight into the challenges of running a Thai restaurant in Britain. The main difficulty seems to be getting the right ingredients as Saiphin explained that it was so much easier to get supplies in Hong Kong – where she used to run a restaurant – compared to London. For example, she'd like to use fresh rice noodles in the pad Thai but so far has been unable to find a supplier that meets their requirements.

I feel mildly embarrassed that Alex and Saiphin went to so much trouble over my comments about Rosa's. That they did shows how much they care about their restaurant. Now I appreciate that being invited to lunch by the owners of the restaurant isn't entirely representative of what a paying customer might expect. Having said that, I will be giving Rosa's another chance probably with an order of Thai calamari and a green curry.

PS: Such is the small world we live in, Saiphin bumped into this gangly blogger on a recent visit to Hong Kong. Rather scarily she remembered that his regular order used to be green curry.


  1. So I'm going to tell a story I haven't told on my blog. I think American in London might be the only person that knows it. I got food poisoning from Rosa's. BAD. Like four-days-couldn't-get-out-of-bed-freezing-cold-BAD-had-to-go-on-electrolytes-bad. I originally typed out the entire story here but it's way too long. Anyhow, I e-mailed them the next day and told them what I suspected. I expected either no response or a shift of the blame. They wrote me back with the most lovely email and asked for my address so they could SEND ME FLOWERS. Amazingly lovely.

  2. Haha - it really is a small world and these guys really do have the customer service (especially in light of Krista's comments as well).

    Good on them, and you for going, a win win really!

    You should have asked them when they are opening in HK.

  3. It is great to hear that Rosa's took your feedback in a constructive manner, I hope that this will translate in tastier squid for everyone else, so thanks Mr Noodles!

    I've been to their Spitafield's branch a couple of times (prior to blogging) and thought their food tasted delicious, I should go back there.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  4. So impressed with Rosa's at making this effort and interested to read Krista's comment as she had always been very secretive about where she got her food poisoning from - sending flowers really does show they care!

  5. The guys at Rosa's are pretty amazing. I've always had good service there and online and I've not ever had a comp'd meal there (so I'm not just saying they are nice!). I have to say I do like the pad thai :)

  6. Krista - what a great story.

    Tom - they did tell me about plans for a HK restaurant but I forgot the specifics - sorry!

    LF/GC/Catty - I'm still flabbergasted that they went to so much trouble.

  7. I eat Rosa's green curry (with pork) at least twice a month for lunch (at the Spitalfields location). It's consistently tasty. Less consistent is their pad thai, which (at least twice that I've seen) uses noodles that aren't even rice sticks, and the prawns have always looked small and suspciously-not-fresh-looking.

    Anyway, the pad thai you photographed in this post looks *miles* better than anything I've ever seen served to my friends/colleagues at lunch.

    I agree with everyone else's comments, though, about what a show of great customer service it was that the owners wanted to speak with you.

  8. A-in-L - I think curry is the way to go here. Of all the dishes I tried, with the possible exception of the calamari, the green curry was the best. It had much more of a zing than many of the watery curries out there.