I'm as guilty as the next blogger of rushing to restaurants when they first open and making a snap judgement from them, as was the case of The Begging Bowl in Peckham. When it first opened I was there with a large table of friends and though their Thai food was nice enough, it was just that - nice enough. Their dishes were, I felt, well conceived but lacking a little in punch. Therefore, when I came home to find my housemates slumped in front of the couch on a Saturday night, wrapped in blankets and watching The Titanic, I commanded them to get up and join me for dinner. Anything to escape an evening of Cameron's drudgery (I saw it at the cinema THREE times, and sobbed all the way through on the last two watchings...).
Pretty damn pleased I did so too, as we nabbed the last table outside under the heaters. It was a difficult menu to choose from. Deep fried pork belly kicked things off, crisp yet tender, the spicy dip helping things along. We squabbled over the last pieces.
Grilled sardines and raw vegetables came with a caveat that this was a fishy dish, and indeed it was. The dip had the fermented funk I've smelled / tasted before, and while one housemate found it overwhelmingly so, I thought it brave to serve something quite so... rotten tasting. It brought me right back to the meal we'd had at Nahm in Bangkok.
Marinated raw salmon salad came with sweet and sour strips of green mango, quelling those flames the curry had set us alight with. Service was harried but sweet, and the packed out restaurant smelled reassuringly of spice and fish sauce.
With a bottle of wine, we were stuffed to the gills (7 dishes is, in hindsight, one too many for 3 people...) for a princely sum of £35 a head. I feel quite blessed to have such a brilliant restaurant local to me, and quite smug that I got over my initial judgements to revisit, as it's a restaurant that's served one of my favourite meals in 2013 so far.
The Begging Bowl
168 Bellenden Road