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zimzun
 - modern oriental at the new Fulham Broadway Centre

zimzun Retail centres are springing up all over the place, particularly above, or even wrapping around, underground stations. People need to eat, so mostly it's fast food outlets and if you're lucky a branch of one of the better chains like Pizza Express. What you don't tend to find is an independent restaurant that's all tricked out in cutting edge style and serving decently cooked, interesting food. So three cheers for zimzun!

The space caters for 100 diners, but retains a reasonable degree of intimacy. In the middle are several large square tables, each overhung with a cascade of  transparent beads that are all lit up, and nearly touching the centre of the table with its pool of petals and floating tea-lights. The walls combine beautifully figured woods contrasting with rich, dark colours that set off a few carefully chosen oriental artefacts.

The menu is divided into sections featuring noodle dishes, stir-fries, grills, curries and side orders, and the cuisine is broadly Thai. The chef, Phuong Nguen previously cooked at Busaba Eathai and Wagamama. The menu goes quite a bit further than the simple selections at Wagamama though. There's a strange note that says "where to start: the menu consists of main courses and side dishes, there are no starters. One noodle or rice dish with a side order is sufficient". So there, don't be greedy, and don't talk with your mouth full! Or Mr Peter Ponnampalam - P for Proprietor - will come and tick you off. Actually Mr P is P for Pussycat, and he clearly makes it his chief business to make sure his guests are enjoying their meals.

 

Nevertheless we rejected this advice, which seemed to be underselling important items such as the curries and the stir-fries. We ordered four of the side orders (£2.95 - £4.50), which looked as though they would make very adequate starters, and since each one contained at least four pieces of everything, it made it easy to share the dishes between the four of us without any tantrums. The squid was chunky and the batter was good, the fish cakes were a bit rubbery, but the spring rolls were okay and the prawns in sesame were excellent. Each dish came with its own carefully spiced sauce.

The two curries we tried (green chicken £6.50) and mussaman duck (£7.95) ) were both outstanding, the sauces were creamy and delicious, and there was plenty of tender meat. The salads (£4.95) would have been good without the addition of pointless ingredients like shredded iceberg lettuce which turned them straightaway into common pub garnishes. Seafood stir-fry dishes (£7.50) were very nice, with generous amounts of prawns, squid and scallops. The jasmine rice was lovely.

Sensibly, there are no desserts, there being no real tradition of such dishes in Thai cooking. Maybe some Oriental fresh fruit would be nice, though. I tried a lassie, not the dog, but a milky drink, but it had no bark, let alone any bite! But there is a small but effective wine list - prices go from £12.95  - the Alsace Pinot Blanc (£15.60) goes really well with Thai food , and if you like red wine, try the South African Gamay (£15.95).

At lunchtime there's a great value set of five meals, e.g. Thom Ka Chicken, two fish cakes and two spring rolls, all for £5.95

Clifford Mould August 2003

zimzun at the Fulham Broadway Retail Centre 
open seven days a week from 12 noon until 11pm.

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010


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