Just yards from Old Street Station, Piya Piya is best known as the haunt of late-night city sorts. Its location has made it popular for groups who appreciate the evident skill of the barmen, who have a repertoire of exotic cocktails. You know, dear reader, that this reviewer is a bit long in the tooth for all that, so, as you would expect, I was there to eat.
Piya Piya is not only a lounge bar but also a Thai restaurant. It should be just as famed for the food as the booze. It attracts a loyal following of diners earlier in the evening, who come to enjoy the menu which has some amazing dishes.
Thai restaurants are not as ubiquitous as Indian or Chinese so you won’t be the first to ask for some advice when ordering. Our waitress was charming, knowledgeable and attentive. She suggested Pad Thai as one of the most popular dishes and recommended the Morning Glory as the vegetable side order to accompany my squid with peppers (Murk Pad Gratiam Prik Thai). We munched on prawn crackers while we waited for our first course. The regular white crackers were joined by some delicious ochre-coloured ones that were seasoned with pepper. They were moreish and were thankfully not whisked away on the arrival of the main event.
Food presentation here is thoughtful and attractive. Our starter platter was a vision of gold. It led one to expect something rather special. The prawn toast was crunchy on the outside but still moist in the centre. There were Thai Golden Bags (minced chicken and herbs), Thai Fish Cakes and Vegetable Spring Rolls but I’d say the Chicken Satay was unbeatable. The meat was juicy with a flavour of char-grilling. The snacks were served with three dipping sauces.
Squid isn’t the easiest of seafood to prepare so naturally I order it at every opportunity, not just to be devil’s advocate but because I love it. Piya Piya evidently has a chef who knows his stuff. The coils of white flesh were tender and the peppers still had a little bite. It’s a must-try. The Morning Glory was something of a revelation. This particular version was stir-fried with black bean sauce, garlic and ginger and I’ll be asking the chef for the recipe. Yes, it went well with the squid but it has sufficient character to have made a light lunch with just a bowl of rice. This wasn’t a dish to order just to feel noble for eating one of your five a day, this was a winner.
Piya Piya has already attracted a regular clientele but it would be a shame if it remained only celebrated by night-owls. It’s well worth a visit. An early meal here will have you rubbing shoulders with office workers and Thais alike. The service was impeccable and the food everything you would expect of a good value restaurant. I would eat here again.
Restaurant opening hours:
11.30 am – 3.00pm Monday to Friday
5.30pm – 11pm Monday to Friday
Piya Piya – Thai Restaurant & Lounge Bar
1 Oliver’s Yard
London EC1Y 1HQ
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018