Monday, 19 July 2010

Isarn review Islington Thai restaurant (revisited) - mango with black sticky rice still the highlight

Address: 119 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
Tel: 0207 704 7260
Nearest Tube station: Angel

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £10 pp (set lunch)
Service charge: N.A.
Taste: ***
Service: **
Ambience: ***
We finally got the Little One to doze off way past our lunchtime and decided that we should make a mad rush outside for a quick bite. Then again, there aren't a lot of places in Angel that can fit an oversized buggy and we have to decide fast.

"Strada perhaps?" Wife suggested, all ready to print out Strada's 'two meals for the price of one' online voucher. I don't really fancy Italian for lunch as I would invariably end up with a huge pizza or a heavy pasta and feel sleepy for the rest of the day. "Something light perhaps?" I ventured. "Let's go Isarn then, I could do with a mango with black sticky rice."


Well, black sticky rice with mango isn't exactly a light dessert but that was all I could think about after our first visit to Isarn, and that was the only thing on my mind as I wheel the buggy into Isarn fifteen minutes later.

I couldn't help but notice that it was terribly quite at Isarn when we were there. In fact, we were the only customers there throughout the meal. That's probably the reason why Isarn serves a lunch set from 12pm-6pm during the weekends (12pm-3pm during weekdays) at very reasonable prices starting from £6.90. I went for the char-grilled beef lunch set while Wife opted for chicken green curry set.


The food arrived just in time as the Little One began to stir - a precursor to a post sleep tantrum. I must say that I was a bit disappointed at the presentation of the lunch set. Both lunch sets come in Japanese styled red and black bento boxes. I would have preferred the side dishes to come in smaller plates and shuddered at the thought that perhaps one day, Indian thalis would come in bento boxes as well.


My char-grilled beef lunch set came with tom yam, a huge chunk of juicy water melon and a sizable portion of Thai fragrant white rice. I must say that the beef, which came with a slight pinkish interior, tasted better than expected. While it couldn't be compared to the one that I had at Aqua Kyoto, Isarn did a decent char-grilled beef for a mere £6.90. The tom yam (without 'gung' or prawns) complemented the beef's smoky aftertaste.

Wife's chicken green curry turned out fine as well. Like most proper Thai restaurants, Isarn uses chicken thighs rather than chicken breast for this dish thus avoiding it turning out too tough. I thought that the two pieces of fish cakes that came with a side dish with chicken green curry were a bit bland and suffered from a lack of depth but Wife has got no issues with them.  Like the beef lunch set, this came with rice and a slice of watermelon.


We went ahead and asked for the mango with black sticky rice (£6.50) despite the Little One kicking up a fuss towards the end of the meal. That was what we came for, wasn't it? Once again, it didn't disappoint. The warm sticky rice with its glutinous texture went extremely well with cool coconut milk and of course, freshly cut mango. All that served on a slice of banana leaf, a fitting end to a rather satisfying meal.

While the Isarn's ala carte menu offers a wider variety, its lunch menu definitely offers more value for money. If you don't mind having an early dinner, it's lunch offer during weekends lasting from 12pm-6pm might just be the thing for you.

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mycookinghut said...

The black sticky rice with mango looks delish!!

C K said...

It taste better that it looks really. Never fails to order this every single time I visit Isarn!