Aside from his chain Busaba, Alan Yau seems to have been keeping a fairly low profile in London lately. But that's all about to change as he gets ready to unveil his new restaurant (the first of a new chain) Naamyaa Cafe in Islington.
Based on modern Bangkok cafes, it'll be an all day restaurant which is focused around naamyaa - "a sauce that is cooked in traditional terracotta pots and eaten with kanon jin - fresh rice noodles".
The full menu hasn't been revealed yet - but Alan Yau did give us this glimpse: Chicken and Wild Ginger with Kanom Jin. "These popular round rice noodles known as Kanom Jim are most traditionally served with a rich spicy sauce known as Naamyaa. The dish is then personalised with a selection of side vegetables such as pickled mustard greens, fresh Thai basil, bean-sprouts, bitter melon, star fruit and plenty of chopped boiled green beans."
We caught up with Alan on the eve of opening to find out a bit more...
What made you decide to focus on naamyaa for your next restaurant?
It’s a natural step for the progression of the Busaba brand. There was an opportunity for it to have a complimentary platform that was cheaper and more accessible. This is a take on of the Bangkok café, with the core being led by contemporary culture rather than the ethnicity of Thai cuisine. The eclectic-ness is legitimised.
What can we expect at the restaurant?
The focal point is the Naamyaa set and the rest of the menu, unlike Busaba, which is much, more bistro style take on Thai food. Naamyaa is about street food style, accessibility and affordability. For example you could have a plate of rice with stir fry in a similar metaphor to Chinatown's ‘duck and rice’, with a fried egg Maggie sauce.
And finally, do you have any other plans for London that you can tell us about?
We are currently looking at a number of options in central London.
Naamyaa Cafe opens in the Angel Building, St John Street in Islington on November 19th.