Gina and I met up recently for a weekday lunch at Toomai Square in East Greenwich.
A sleek and modern feel
The restaurant is big and easy to find, occupying the glass-walled ground floor of a modern block at the corner of Woolwich Road and Vanbrugh Hill. It’s a big, high-ceilinged, light and airy space with a sleek modern feel. The dark wood tables and comfortable leather-upholstered seating are generously spaced, while the handsome incised tiles and oriental decorations lend atmosphere.
When we visited it was fairly quiet, but clearly had the capacity to cope gracefully with much bigger numbers in the evening and at weekends. Service was efficient, yet friendly; the kind of place that seems equally happy to accommodate those in a hurry and wanting just one dish, and those choosing to celebrate a special occasion by lingering over a long elaborate feast.
The cooking’s Pan-Asian, with an emphasis on Thai dishes.
Even before we saw the menu we were intrigued by our basket of prawn crackers: some were the usual white Chinese kind, but the others were brown, spicier and crunchier and really quite delicious.
Prawn cracker basket
When we asked about them, manager Kumar smiled and explained that they were the Thai variety, and that he was on something of a personal mission to convert his customers to their charms.
Not a hard job, we agreed as we respectively sipped a ladylike glass of Prosecco (Gina), or slurped icy Lassi Pina Colada from a pineapple-shaped glass through a straw (me).
Purely in the interests of research, you understand. Anyway, it was delicious!
Working our way through the starters
Hoping to support our character as would-be ladies who lunch, we focussed on sampling a range of Toomai Square’s starters. Everything we tried had been carefully and freshly cooked, and was attractively presented; my personal favourite was Thai Calamari, toasted in a garlic and coriander sauce, while Gina liked best the Paper Chilli Lamb – strips of lamb with chilli, spring onions and peppers.
But we also enjoyed all the other dishes we tried – the paneer cheese in another chilli sauce, the elegant prawn dim sum dumplings steamed in a basket, the “lollipops” of battered chicken wings served with a hot garlic sauce, the vegetable spring rolls….
Main dishes and house specialities
There is more, much more on the menu – main dishes include healthy soups and salads, curries, stir-fries, rice and noodle dishes, with house specialities including Lamb Shank Massaman and Lemon Grass Seabass. There is also a wide choice of sorbets and ice-creams, including Indian kulfi in pistachio, mango or rose and honey flavours.
Alas, we had room left for none of these. Instead we finished up with another house speciality, something entirely new to both of us – Jasmine Flowering Tea.
This proved delightful, even spectacular – a glass of boiling water came to the table with a big closed-up flower bobbing around on top.
Slowly this dropped to the bottom of the glass and opened, releasing a string of jasmine flowers and creating a fragrant, delicately-flavoured tea.
A pleasing end to a more than pleasing meal. We’ll have to go back soon, maybe in the evening, and try some of those main dishes!