Commercial Quay, the old bonds opposite the Scottish Government in Leith, is a bustling, fun place to be. The bonds turn serious faces towards Commercial Street but have a long row of restaurants at their back. Here’s you’ll find Chop Chop Leith, La Garrigue Leith, the Kitchin and International Starters. And Mya. Mya offers Thai and Indian cuisine and has been in their location for years, weathering the relatively rapid turnover in the units around them. We went there for Thai one evening in November.
November is a difficult month. It is one of the quietest months of the year (the months before and after December are relatively dead). There’s a recession on. The people with flats in the bond buildings at Commercial Quay are selling up and moving somewhere else. There’s a lot of movement but not much of it is footfall leading to the doors of restaurants and pubs. (This is a great area for food: Mithas is around the corner and Fishers Leith just down from there.)
Mya is a place to forget about bad weather and all your other worries. The service is friendly and attentive, the ambiance is relaxed and comfortable and the food is lovely. (Unlike my photographs which have a heavy blue cast and a vigorous but unhelpful blur.)
The menu is divided into Thai and Indian, and has many tempting dishes on both. They also offer a very good range of vegetarian dishes, a great comfort for C who was my glamorous companion in this week’s food experience. We went all Thai: I love Thai. I’m a real fan of Indian too but we ended up eating Thai for starters and main and then going Indian for desert.
I started with crab rolls – popia poo – that came with a sweet chilly dipping sauce. The skins were crunchy, the lettuce crispy, the insides rich with crab. The textures were great: the crab and glass noodles in the rolls were yielding and chewy and the outsides were delightfully crispy. C’s vegetarian crisp rolls were great too. Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, they came with two sauces, a clear cucumber sauce with a wonderful sweetness to it, and a chili sauce.
For the main, I had crispy fried red snapper with chillies, ginger and asparagus. Thai cuisine likes balance and simple preparation. My red snapper was lovely. It was crispy all around and came in a sauce that was delightfully salty. It poured if over my coconut rice. I haven’t had coconut rice before but I will have it again. Not a fan of sweet coconut, plain coconut works really well with spicy and salty food. It makes sense. And tastes great. (I want to learn how to make sticky coconut rice because not only is it wonderfully tasty but I also think the left-overs would make a great breakfast.) Red snapper’s a meaty fish, white and big in flavour. It can take the heat of red chillies and the spice of gingers.
C had a green vegetable curry (without aubergine, normally the main ingredient) and a side of stir-fried bean curd with ginger and spring onions. The bean curd in particular was great. It was textured, almost spongy – in a good way – and took the flavour of the sauce wonderfully. The green curry was good too. A gentle green in colour, aromatic and creamy, it was a dream.
I rounded off my meal with mango kulfi. It was beautifully orange and married the flavours of tangy mango and rich condensed milk wonderfully and came with a side of mango pure that added freshness to the dish. The mango kulfi was a lovely rounded desert, a great way to end a meal. C’s desert was a chocolate torte that was airy and chocolaty. At this point we were happy and comfortably full.
We finished with coffee and After Eights (which made me very happy since I have a childish fondness for them) before walking out onto Commercial Quay again, past restaurants and pubs that could all have been busier. Save a little from your October budget for November: your local establishment needs your support.