Pacata is a fusion restaurant in central London, located just a few minutes’ walk from Leicester Square station. I have been meaning to try it for FOREVER because I was extremely intrigued by some of the items on their menu and the deed is finally, finally done!
Inside it’s quite small but it’s really warm and cosy, and the staff are extremely friendly and attentive. I didn’t get a picture but they serve their tap water in Kilner/mason jars, which I’m pointing out only because I know that’s something that gets some of you guys really eggcited. Hahaha. To each his own, I suppose.
Their menu was apparently designed by Michelin-starred chef Yasuji Morazumi. It’s interesting, though, that there’s nothing really complex about it – provided the Asian terms don’t confuzzle you, of course – despite the amount of fusion that goes into each dish.
Off the bar snacks menu, I got the popcorn chicken and calamari because it was a FRY-DAY hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!! (Not that I ever need a reason to eat fried food, or that I don’t actually eat fried food everyday…)
I wanted to get this because it reminds me of the tomyum chicken that KFC in Singapore does from time to time. It’s not spicy but it has the requisite tang and flavour of tom yum. I would have loved for the flavours to be a lot more assertive but it was still good, not least because the chicken meat itself was marinated with ginger and garlic.
Larb is a sort of Thai salad that I really like because I find it very tasty – way tastier than any Western salad. The larb powder isn’t immediately perceptible here but it gives a little something to make the otherwise ordinary calamari quite yummy.
Then it was time for our mains!
Common fusion pastas that I’ve had are green curry pasta, kimchi pasta, teriyaki pasta, mentaiko pasta…
But here we have pad thai pasta! I don’t think it gets more fusion than this!
I wasn’t actually expecting to like this as much as I did, seeing as 1) I’m not the biggest fan of pad thai – I know, I know, but there’s a lot of better Thai dishes out there, and 2) I had just had a lot of pasta the day before this visit. It’s interesting because it actually had that ‘wok hei’ aroma (if you’re Asian and eat a lot of street food, you’ll know what this means) of fried noodles, especially the prawns (and yes, I love eating prawn shells). Flavor-wise, it had all the flavours of pad thai, and thankfully wasn’t too sweet, which is something I dislike about some versions of pad thai. And like good pasta, it also wasn’t soggy or wet.
And what else do you order on a Fry-day besides pasta?? A burger, of course!
So there’s nothing incredibly inventive about soft shell crab rolls, but I ordered this anyway because I do really love soft shell crab, and I have had some good soft shell crab rolls in my lifetime. To be honest though, this was quite a letdown. Perhaps the burger bun was too much and overwhelmed the crab a bit, because i found myself wishing for more crab. Hmm. Maybe soft shell crabs are just best in temaki/hand roll form.
The sweet potato fries were good though! Perhaps a little under-salted, though that was easily remedied by the dips provided. I would ask to have them tossed in either the tom yum or larb powder in future though! For the best sweet potato fries in London – which I know is a bold statement to make, but do give it a try yourself – check out Hache (see post here and here).
This next dish I ordered based on previous recommendations from friends. It was a very strange combination of Japanese beef yakiniku and Indian naan bread.
The beef yakiniku was good, tasty and tender, if a bit salty. I particularly liked the sweet, melty onions mmmmm. The naan wasn’t as oily, fluffy or aromatic as I would’ve liked. I may ask to switch out the naan for rice in future if I get it again. I’m terrible at this fusion thing, aren’t I?? But naan really isn’t the right vehicle for something as saucy as beef yakiniku.
Our final dish was a last minute addition to our order because we were still hungry! It’s apparently a popular choice here.
In case you were wondering, this is the basic formula for classic Asian comfort food – fluffy white rice, some sort of meat, and the perfect sunny side-up with crispy edges and runny yolk. It was very tasty but I wouldn’t say it’s something I couldn’t make myself. If you’re not a proficient Asian cook, though, I think you would like this.
Then it was dessert time!!!!!!!!! I was extremely disappointed because I’d heard such a lot about the green tea brownie with green tea ice-cream but they no longer serve it. TRAGEDY OF TITANIC PROPORTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the only thing on the menu was ice-cream, so we got the ‘Ice Cream Assortment’, which was 4 scoops of ice-cream for £8. We got 2 scoops of green tea and 1 each of the Thai milk tea and peanut. Given how disappointed I was that there was no green tea brownie, it had to be some pretty damn good ice-cream in order to cheer me up…
Thankfully it was.
All homemade, my least favourite was the peanut because, strangely enough, peanut ice-creams always have this doughy taste to me? I don’t know why. Having said that, it was still good and I would eat it again, so no serious complaint here. The vermillion-colored scoop was the Thai milk tea ice-cream, which I really liked as well! It definitely tasted like Thai milk tea, which, if you have never tried before, tastes kind of like… sweetened Chinese tea with condensed milk added?? Yes, that is EXACTLY how I would describe the taste. Despite the little shard of ice you can see in the photo, the ice-creams were all desirably creamy and not at all icy, I promise!
My favourite though? The green tea ice-cream. I love a good green tea ice-cream but it’s not something I would ever rave about, not least in London. Even some of my favourite gelato places here serve only passably good matcha gelato. This, however, was very good. The green tea flavour was a lot stronger than it is in most other green tea ice-creams…
So this is what it’s come to. Recommending ice-cream. But I insist the green tea ice-cream here really is some good stuff!
Truth be told, there’s been some really mixed reviews about the place – people either really liked it or really hated it – but I always believe you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it for yourself, and HATERZGONHATE!!!!! Anyway I’m really glad I gave it a shot, because I definitely belong to the former group of people. Either way, I think it depends on how receptive you are to the sort of food they serve here. Don’t take my word for it though! I urge you to try it for yourself.
4 New Row Street,
Monday to Sunday: 11AM to 11PM