Ekachai at Flat Iron Square
It’s almost impossible to really judge Ekachai without taking its surrounding into consideration. Situated in Flat Iron Square, an industrial space that’s been reclaimed and put to better use, it’s the epitome of the South London transformation that’s in full swing right now. All bare woods and walls, handwritten chalk boards, reclaimed furniture, intimate music venue, atmospheric bar. Think Shoreditch long before it reached saturation point.
In that context, Ekachai and the surrounding facilities form a pretty organic relationship. You might head there to get a bite to eat before seeing a great band upstairs, finishing the night off with a stonebaked pizza or a drink at the bar. With its great pricing, tasty dishes and generous portions, the restaurant is certainly a winner when it comes to that front. The question is, would you come here just for the food?
That’s where things get a little more tricky. A plate of Nasi goreng is both sizeable and delicious, perfectly cooked rice spiked with tender prawn and chilli. The accompanying sambal is great too, a solid kick of umami. Four plump prawn and scallop Siu Mai, seasoned with a touch of fish roe, are incredibly moreish, bursting with the salty flavour of the sea. Chicken satay is lusciously thick and rich, sweet but not sickly. Wash it all down with fresh coconut water and you’re onto a winner. With chefs that know the cuisine well, and a string of other successful branches under its belt, Ekachai clearly knows its stuff.
As ideal as this all might sound, there is most definitely a catch. The spicing here has definitely been toned down considerably from what you might expect. It’s not anglicised as such, but there is a clear attempt at mass appeal. It’s hard to really fault them for that, after all they want to cater to as many people coming through the door as possible. Lots of those dining in Flat Iron Square will be doing so as part of a round of activities, so having seriously hot food would be a pretty big risk.
Still, it doesn’t quite sit right with us. The satay, in particular, needs that kick to elevate it to the next level, requiring that heat chasing the sweetness to really make the dish work. For the price point and the size of the servings, Ekachai still represents great value for money, but if you really want to get the best out of its Southeast Asian streetfood, ask for everything hot.
Photos: Silvia Sternardi
To book a table at Ekachai, 68 Union Street, Borough, SE1 1TDF, visit here.