The thing about secrets, is, well, they always come out. Satu must be a well kept secret and Londonist makes no apology for shouting about it – go soon, in fact go now, take mates, dates, hell, you could even take your boss and they’d love it.
This is a notable dining experience in every sense – top notch service, well balanced flavours, sensible portion sizes and a great night out into the bargain. But most usefully you can get all this for around £20 - £25 a head. We pushed the envelope a bit with a couple of champagne cocktails, but the bill only just edged past £30 each.
Of course, the other thing about secrets is that not many people know them. Previous reviews of Satu have alluded to busy lunchtime service but there weren’t many people eating or drinking at Satu on the Friday night when we visited last month. However, given the fact that our party had a combined age greater than the bill a good seat at the bar and a lack of tinnitus inducing break beat was a welcome change. Situated in a basement just a trot from Liverpool Street it isn’t the easiest place to find and some may be put off by the swanky but wanky ‘Orangery’ bar above it. But persevere. Satu offers a wide range of pan-Asian delights and keeps it real; the only fusion here is in the décor, made up of warm hues, beautiful wooden furniture and ultra modern fittings.
After said champagne cocktails (cheap during happy hour and worth waiting for as bar service was a little slow) we adjourned to the dining area which was a vast sweep of a place that could have probably seated a hundred.
Service was very good and the wine list simple. We started with salt and chilli prawns that were tender and well seasoned without being over the top. Pork gyoza, hand crafted dumplings with a fragrant and juicy meat centre, were perfectly cooked to preserve the sweetness of the pork and mildly glutinous richness of the pasta. Aubergine and sweet potato parcels must have had an Indian influence and were surprisingly light and moist in the middle with a lovely crunchy pastry contrast. Champion.
Mains were as good as the starters. Pad Krapaeo, lamb with chilli and Thai basil made for a well balanced curry and care had been taken not to undermine the very good cut of meat. Mee Goreng, or Malaysian special fried noodles, was outstanding. Every mouthful was different, a riot of flavours and textures, tender chicken breast, fresh as a daisy vegetables and refreshingly moist fishcake pieces.
The noodles were perfect with an overwhelming slippiness about them that should define noodle based dishes and without the merest hint of greasiness or over zealous seasoning. The piece de resistance was Gaeng Gati – a seafood curry swirling with fruits de mer; salmon, mussels and prawns in generous proportions.
Londonist scoffed this without talking and devoured every possible scraping of the excellent coconut based gravy with fitting reverence.
Every plate was clean and for this reason dessert was declined, despite the tempting offer of banana fritters, chocolate pudding and the obligatory Eastern restaurant mango dish.
VERDICT: SWALLOW. Places to go in and around Liverpool Street are generally a rip off and often a disappointment. Satu goes against the grain in both respects and it is to be hoped that this place gets the recognition and custom it deserves.