Gamma Gamma, Soho

Gamma Gamma, so good they named it twice…even if it sounds more like Peter Parker’s favourite soda fountain than a sophisticated Soho restaurant. 

Twice is also the number of times I’ve visited Gamma Gamma since it opened last month – once on a double date when I paid, once at the behest of its PR company when I didn’t. It’s the kind of place that requires everyone to shut up and concentrate on the menu for a good five minutes, because it’s filled with mysterious things that I am neither knowledgeable nor worldly enough to recognise: furikake popcorn, “otak-otak”, and, slightly alarmingly, chowchow. (Fortunately this last one was in a dish marked as vegetarian, but I’m afraid that’s all I can tell you, officer.) That’s what I get for never going on a gap year, I suppose.

The cuisine is described as ‘Asian fusion’, which here means ‘Literally whatever the hell we fancy’, with zero regard for authenticity. This is totally cool with me because I’ll always choose tastiness over accuracy, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the menu is batshit mental. You’ll find South American ceviche alongside Japanese sushi, Italian ‘burratta’ (sic), Thai som tam and Filipino-style kangaroo. No, never mind that there are no kangaroos in the Philippines. Every dish is listed in such an unwieldy jumble of unfamiliar words, and with such a ballistic approach to grammar, that we found the quickest and most efficient way of choosing our dinner was to simply stab at the menu with our forks and hope for the best.

(The one exception is a most excellent example of chicken satay (£8.90), listed simply as ‘chicken satay: spicy peanut sauce’, weird colon notwithstanding.)

The result was a bit of a mixed bag but overall generally positive. Interesting, at least. The smoked burrata salad (£10.90) came with a whole chorus of nature’s bounty: honey-roasted kabucha pumpkin, avocado, mulled nashi pear, thai basil pesto, tofu chips and pumpkin seeds, which smacked of the kind of Friday lunch you might treat yourself to after a really, really shit week. It was actually one of my favourite dishes; big blobs of soft, voluptuous smoky burrata languishing on a bed of colourful veggies, like something out of a Botticelli painting.

The Zebra loin steak (£12.90), which came with a similarly lengthy string of adjectives and ingredients, was a plate of niceness in which none of the myriad ingredients had a chance to properly introduce themselves. Everything just sort of shouted over everything else, and although I was having fun eating it, I didn’t really know how or what. Or why. It was like my gob had gone rogue and disappeared off to some sort of gobs only rave without the rest of me, and all I know is that a good time was had.

But if the zebra was an all-night rave, then the Thai prawn taco with ‘spicy minced prawns and fish cake, tamarind ketchup’ (£9.90) was some sort of dilapidated seaside bingo hall: sad and stale with only the faintest whiff of the ocean about it, and only appealing to people whose diet otherwise consists entirely of prunes. The taco itself was tough and chewy, and one had to hunt quite hard to find the promised prawns, fish cake or, indeed, any spice. Unless you count the chilli pepper artistically impaled on the skewer keeping the whole mess together, which I don’t. Also, PSA to all restaurants: ONE TACO IS NOT A SHARING PLATE. It is a taco. Para uno.

Curries are comically small for their price range – around the £12 mark – but if you must have one choose the langka sa gata, a fiery jackfruit vegan curry (£12.00) that really showcases what a great boon to vegan cuisine the jackfruit is. (If you haven’t already encountered it, jackfruit is an Indian fruit of unusually meaty flesh. You can make quite convincing vegan burritos and pulled pork from it and it’s reasonably easy to work with. You can find it in the ethnic foods aisle, it’s a couple of quid a can.) There’s a Thai jungle curry containing ostrich too, ambitiously priced at £12.90, but any nuance of its naturally lean, beefy flavour is lost in the sauce.

One of my favourite dishes of all was an Asian twist on ceviche (£8.90) – the traditional ‘tiger’s milk’ of lime juice, onions and chilis given a Thai twist with coconut, kaffir lime and coriander. I adore ceviche and there’s so much of it in London now, so I am very much here for fun variations, especially when they include gigantic, juicy king prawns.

It’s a funny old restaurant, similar to Fitzrovia’s venerable Archipelago but without the kitsch and the whimsy. And, it must be said, the sense of humour, because one does get the impression that Gamma Gamma does take itself a bit too seriously. At the time of writing there are no puddings, but there are cute little amuse-bouches and some wicked cocktails (the Smokey Eyes (£12.00) in particular is a real treat for anyone who loves peaty whiskys or Old Fashioneds). The whole experience is a bit bonkers, but on London’s crowded restaurant scene it’s something a little different. And it’s right next door to two of my favourite Soho watering holes, 68 & Boston (known for its vast selection of £20 bottles of wine) and The Vault, an underground bar hidden behind a whisky shop bookshelf.

Gamma Gamma, 6 Greek St, Soho, London, W1D 4DE

 

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.