What's the draw?
As the latest would-be restaurant to set up residency at the iconic Soho pub and restaurant incubator, Jeow Jeow has got some fairly large gustatory galoshes to fill. From the now-legendary Darjeeling Express and Sambal Shiok to more recent pop-ups like Sarap, The Sun & has seen itself play host to a spate of extraordinary culinary talents over the years. That mantle appears to be in safe hands with chef Tania Steytler and chef and food writer Bill Knott in the upstairs kitchen, fervidly whipping up plates of Thai cooking. The Jeow Jeow concept is inspired by Knott and Steytler's travels along the Mekong river and intends to deliver a predominantly traditional take on Thailand's fiery cuisine with a few eclectic twists thrown in for good measure. It's an ethos epitomised by bilingual dishes like spicy devilled lamb faggot in tamarind broth that fluently parse between the disparate dialects of Newport and Phetchabun.
What to drink?
Seeing as Jeow Jeow is currently located in a pub, you're not exactly going to be stuck for something decent to sip throughout your meal. A host of pints and wine (available by the glass or bottle) can be purchased at The Sun & 13 Cantons' adjoining bar. We paired our food on this occasion with a refreshing blend of gros manseng and colombard grapes from the Gascogne region of South West France – a wine that doesn't let itself be pushed around by some of the noisier dishes on offer, standing resolute in the face of a fish sauce onslaught with a tropical, passionfruit finish.
What to eat?
We begin with Jeow Jeow's homemade hot and sour pork sausage. The Isaan-style frank arrives sliced into fat discs next to a captivating hot mess of the restaurant's namesake peanut jeow. The former, subtle in its fresh simmer of lemongrass and garlic, plays wonderfully off the bird's eye peck of the sour and spicy jeow. Tom sum is equally tidy, the addition of salted duck egg giving the salad a moreish and silky quality. When it comes to the larger plates, you'd be remiss not to explore the house specials: Burma-style ox cheek curry is tall, dark, handsome, swimming with dill and dangerously tender morsels of meat – a real brooding Heathcliff of a main. Toss in a ramekin of the mustard greens (fermented in-house) and you're in for a tongue codge from that master of Wutheringly delicious Heights himself. The complex, heady combination of fish sauce and Jeow Jeow's homemade curry powder further give the gravy a distant South Indian-influenced flavour – a taste you can almost catch on your palate like the lull of a darbar drifting in from another room. Jeow Jeow's duck laap is comparably unique. Unlike most mince-based laaps, this take is more up-front about its citrus intent and is strewn with pieces of pulled duck piled high to deliver a bright, clean heat and satisfying afterburn. We end our meal with a cooling scoop of homemade pandan ice cream. Yes, the verdant quenelle arrived looking an Incredible Hulk shade of green, but its gentle flavour was anything but angry – more of a sweet grassy murmur which you should, most definitely, smash.
Plates from £5, wines by the glass from £4.5; 21 Great Pulteney Street, W1F 9NG; sunand13cantons.co.uk