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The scene Oaka presents an egg/chicken, chicken/egg dilemma – does it serve boutique beers to go with food or is it’s all-of-Asia-inspired menu devised to get the most out of the Oakham Ales from which it takes its name? Is it a pub with a dining room or a restaurant with a genuinely welcoming waiting area (that looks, feels and is basically a pub)?

Either way, off the hardly inviting Kennington Park Road, we’re welcomed by a cosy long bar area to the right and an unfussy, dark timber-warm dining area to the left.

There’s no real indication of the vast cross-section of Asian flavours we’ll soon be devouring or the joint’s proud devotion (see the knowledgeable and uber-friendly staff) to their draught Oakham brews until you take a closer look at the taps and the menu, but then it all becomes clear. 

The grub I’m wary of massive menus – how can it all be fresh and quality with so many ingredients and dishes? But my cynicism takes the night off when our gap glam (literally ‘beer food’ in Thai) dishes arrive.

Out of the 17 choices we go for herby, spice-coated, crunchy aubergines, almost jerky-like heavenly beef, sweet curried pumpkin gyoza and exquisite soft shell crab – all expertly executed and a treat with a refreshing pint of Oakham’s Citra. The middles and mains menu have subheadings of salads, wraps and rolls, from the sea, from the earth, soups, sashimi and futomaki (long sushi rolls), curries, rice dishes and noodles. A lot.

The tom yum soup is hot and invigorating, the aromatic duck is Peking style and has the crispy/ juicy bits bang on, while the Malaysian rendang chicken is melt-in-the-mouth.

Behind the bar Other beers and large wine list aside, it’s all about the Oakham Ales. We try the hoppy, golden JHB, the pleasingly bitter, dry, spice-friendly Citra and the strong, fruity, grainy delight that is the Bishop’s Farewell. Also seasonal ales. 

Bill please Gap glam from £3.50 (platter £16.90); tasting menu £45pp (min. four people); sashimi from £3.90; curries from £7.60; chef’s specialty mains from £8.90.

Verdict Flavour-packed food to drink to with beers that stand up to spice.

48 Kennington Park Road, SE11 4RS  
oakalondon.com  
Tube | Kennington


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