Barking Mad or Man’s Best Wingman? (Bark in The Park)

junk4lunch:

My guest appearance on the 30 Dates blog. Thanks to Miss Twenty-Nine for the opportunity to look beyond junk food. My wingman Mr Saucisse and I had a great time!

Originally posted on The 30 Dates Blog:

Match.com’s event ‘Bark in the Park’ attracted press attention this weekend thanks to a famous single attendee – Made in Chelsea’s Lucy Watson, and her furry wingman Digby. When Match contacted me to ask if 30 Dates fancied seeing what all the fuss was about, my first concern was that none of the writers are dog owners.  One of the parts of single life I hate most is not having someone to snuggle up with on the sofa in the evening.  Something man’s best friend could certainly help with! However the reality of living alone, and working long hours, is that owning a dog is out of the question.  In fact I have very few single friends who are dog owners.  But the Bark in the Park event seemed too good to miss, so I sent out a tweet to the 30 Dates followers asking if a blog reader wanted…

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Seafood Laksa – Yanwo (Golden Fish Noodles), Farringdon

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See, told you I’m addicted! Yes, it’s laksa for lunch today. Was feeling a tad hungover and was head down bum up at work, non-stop till way past 1 o’clock. Thought I give myself a treat and went to checkout this joint just across the road from where I work.

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Golden Fish Noodles is located along Farringdon Road, across from Mount Pleasant and just next to Exmouth Market. I was intending to grab something from the food trucks in the market but most of the trucks had a long queue of customers and Junk just could not be arsed queueing up today.

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As you can see from the menu, definitely not as budget as Chop Chop but it won’t break the bank either. I really should force myself to try other stuff apart from laksa. Perhaps the Beef Ho Fun in a sauce or the Belachan Chicken Fried Rice can be my next target.

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Seeing I’m feeling a tad hungover, decided to be health and have tea instead of a soft drink. Ordered the “Iron” Guanyin tea. Also asked for a glass of ice on the side so I can make my own ice tea.

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At £7.80 which is close to £3 more than the Chop Chop version, one would expect more ingredients in this Seafood Laksa. So there was 2 big deep fried prawn wonton, 3 fish balls (don’t laugh!), 4 big slices of squid, quite a few cubed fried tofu, loads of green beans and bean sprouts in a thick and satisfying gravy laced with curry leaves.

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I’m glad they use thick egg noodles here instead of the more common rice vermicelli. Though the noodles felt mushy, they were actually very well cooked with still a slice bounce. The only complain I have is I could do with more gravy and the spoon had a massive bowl which makes scooping out the gravy awkward.

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Empty bowl, satisfied tummy.

Hmmm… did not notice there was service charge added to the bill till later. I would not have tipped as generously as I had if I’d known. Then again, the service was very good. Both the waitresses were attentive and efficient. They really should reprogram the till to show the right business name soon.

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Golden Fish Noodles
102-104 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3EA
0207 7837 5293

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*Update: It would seem that my point about the restaurant reprogramming the till to match the restaurant’s name was partially accurate. Walked by the joint today and noticed that it was no longer Golden Fish Noodles but Yanwo instead! Would seem like I visited in midst of a transition. Makes me feel like a revolutionary!

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Yanwo Restaurant
102-104 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3EA
0207 7837 5293

Singapore Laksa and Kway Teow – Chop Chop Noodle Bar, Kings Cross

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Oh no! Not laksa again I hear you say? Yes, Junk is almost addicted to the stuff and this post and next will be about one of my all time fav dishes.

So one day last week towards the end of the working day, I found myself a tad hungry and could not get the ideal of having a big steaming bowl of laksa out of my head. Started looking around on Google maps for any potential to appease my craving. Lo and behold! Found both Chop Chop and Hare and Tortoise outlets within walking distance from the office.

chopchopshopfrontChop Chop is a budget place serving a range of Asian/Chinese dishes. By budget, I really mean budget. One can have a starter, a drink and a main course easily under £10. Quality is not fantastic but portions are always generous.What the Boom might call, a reliable “Chew and Spew” joint. Apart from the outlet in Kings Cross, I know of one in Shepherd’s Bush and another near Fulham Broadway. There are many reviews complaining of rude or bad service which I have never encountered and I have visited all 3 outlets.

chopchopmenuOnce you are seated, you will be given a pen and a marking sheet with numbers representing dishes on the menu. Simply indicate the number of portion of the selected dish on the marking sheet.

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Of the umpteenth times I have eaten at Chop Chop, I have always told myself to try out some of their other dishes. But I could never tear myself away from their Singapore Laksa, it’s simply one of my comfort dishes.

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A bowl of Singapore Laksa at £4.90 (this have increased their prices over the years. I still remember when a bowl was only £3.90) will contain 3 good size prawns, maybe 5 thick slices of fish cake and a handful of fried tofu. The small plate of chilli oil in the first picture cost 50p more.

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They use thin rice vermicelli here and believe me, the portion is huge! The rice noodles are accompanied by crunchy bean sprouts all drench in a spicy, rich coconut milk based sauce.

Slurp, slurp, chew, slurp, there, all done!

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Also got a takeaway portion of Boom’s fav dish, the Kway Teow. This also cost £4.90 and I was intending to have it for lunch the next day as it was my WFH (work from home) day. Came the next morning, thought better of it and gave it to Boom for his dinner instead. What a nice person I am huh?

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So the Kway Teow is quite rightly made with thick rice noodles, prawns, char siew, fish cake, bean sprouts all stir fried with dark soya sauce. Boom told me the next day that the Kway Teow was a perfect cure to his after drinks cravings and boy was the portion big he said. The Boom don’t lie.

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Chop Chop Noodle Bar
1 Euston Road
London NW1 2SA
0207 833 1773

Sausage Roll – The Quality Chop House, Farringdon

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New location, new food adventures! For regular readers of my blog, sorry that I did not write much when I was based out at the Silicon Roundabout. I did have the aspiration to have a pho at every Vietnamese joint down by Kingsland Road but work and laziness got the better of me and I stopped after 3. Does not mean I did not eat lunch, just nothing worth much of a mention.

Today’s write up is more out of astonishment then it being a taste sensation. For those not as bright a spark, the title of this post reveals what is in the neatly packed parcel which cost a whole £4! Yes, it’s a humble sausage roll.

20131216-123049_Web_jpg_630x420_crop-center_q95I know many critics simply loved The Quality Chop House. Rave reviews abundant. Just google for it. Without a buddy for a sit down meal, thought I give the offerings at the adjacent shop a try especially I was peckish for a snack after my lunch. The big cuts of meat at the butcher looked promising and decided to give the sausage roll a go. Though there was no price listed, was expecting to pay say max £2.50 for a luxury version?

Had to take a big gulp when I was told the damage was £4! Four bl00dy f-fing pounds for a sausage roll! I kid you not, I got the receipt as proof!

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It’s not even a big sausage roll by any standard. The ones in Borough Market from The Ginger Pig were at least half a the size longer and were only £3 a piece I think. I usually use a packet of ciggies as the reference measure but don’t want to enrage the anti smokers lobby thus an Oyster card will do. * An Oyster card is the size of a typical bank/credit card.

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You know what? The taste of the sausage roll sure does not justify the price tag. Ok, it’s not a bad sausage roll, the puff pastry is light and flaky and the sausage meat filling was generous, juicy and well seasoned. Bits of green herbs were laced throughout the stuffing but for the life of me, I could not tell what the herbage was. Sage perhaps? Overall, a tad greasy but those of you health conscious peebs but still acceptable by my standards.

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But £4! I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Especially when their lunch deal of a chop with a glass can be had at £15, something is wrong with their pricing. No wonder I was muttering under my breath on my walk back to the office cradling the warm £4 parcel.

Another pic for posterity!

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The Quality Chop House
90-92 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3EA
Butcher and Shop: 0203 490 6228

Piri Piri Tonkotsu Ramen – Shoryu, Soho

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A couple of weeks back, had the opportunity to run some errands before having to fly up north for work. Seeing I’m in the Soho area, thought I pop by Shoryu to check out their tonkotsu ramen.

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Shoryu is the sister ramen bar of the Japan Centre which recently relocated to Piccadilly Circus, just round the corner from the Shoryu on Denman Street. In fact, after having my ramen, I pop by Japan Centre to check things out and was very impressed by their range of sushi available for takeaway. Dragged the Boom the very same week to grab some for dinner. That pig out is a story for another day :)

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I was very tempted to crush some garlic onto my ramen but got lazy as the entire bulb is still intact. Didn’t want to stink up my fellow passenger on the flight.

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Apart from ramen, Shoryu offers various other items from yakitori, yakimono, sushi, sashimi and a huge selection of sides and drinks. Was torn between the singature Shoryu Ganso or the Piri Piri Tonkotsu but ultimately settled on the spicy option.

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Overall, I was not really impressed by this ramen. The broth though creamy is not as rich and porky as I would like it to be. The noodles had a good bite initially but turned soft when I got to the bottom of the bowl. I could not discern much Piri Piri apart from the few slices of jalapeno peppers garnish. Being not a big fan of ginger in general, I should have pushed aside the generous sprinkling of pickled ginger as crunching on slivers of piquant ginger with every noodle bite was rather jarring.

An average and forgettable bowl at £11.90, perhaps I should give it another try before I pass the final verdict.

Shoryu
3 Denman Street
London W1D 7HA
* They don’t do reservations, walk-ins only

15 Course Tasting Menu – HKK, Liverpool Street

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The Boom decided to splash out and took me to HKK for their 15 course tasting menu yesterday night. The location of HKK is rather obscure, on the edge of Shoreditch and the City. Also, the facade is unassuming, no name of the restaurant, just frosted glass and cool blue lights.

Finally something worth blogging about. Won’t write much since there are so many pictures!

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See! 15 course tasting menu at £95! You can check out their menu online.
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Cripsy taro puff with Canadian scallop. This is the upmarket version of your typical dim sum taro puff. Instead of minced pork, it’s filled with diced scallop. I could happily have a few more puffs. The Boom liked this as well though he thought the mushy taro “dirtied” the fresh taste of the scallop.

wpid-wp-1391865598542.jpeg Cold jumbo crab. Chunky piece of crab meat on a leaf of chicory with a Shao Xing rice wine sauce. We thought the bitterness of the chicory leaf will overpower the delicate taste of the crab but luckily, the inner tender leaf of chicory was used so our fear was moot! Apart from Shao Xing wine, we both think some wasabi was used. Nice and refreshing with a tad of bite.

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Cherry wood roasted Peking duck. This was the highlight of the night! A slice of duck skin, a thick slice of duck breast with skin and a wrap with duck meat, skin and slivers of cucumber and spring onion.

We were instructed (yes, instructed!) to dip the skin in the sugar and hoi sin sauce and eat that first, followed by the breast meat with skin and lastly the wrap. Boy! This was some good stuff. Simply the best Peking duck I have ever tasted. The skin is crispy with a bit of duck fat that just melts in your mouth. The slice of duck breast was juicy and moist, simply delightful! The Boom wanted more and was waxing lyrical about how his life will be complete if he can have a whole duck with a bottle of nice red wine. The Boom and his duck craze, don’t blame him, this duck is top quack!

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The yummy duck roasting away in the kitchen.

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Truffled seafood soup with Osmanthus flower. We were once again instructed to lower the spoon filled with sea bass and scallop into the soup to warm the seafood up slightly before drinking the soup. We were expecting a light bodied soup and thus was surprised this was more like a chowder. Rich and totally umami.

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Dim sum trilogy. We both loved the deep fried dumpling that is wrapped in vermicelli and topped with caviar. The skin of the white dumpling is far too thick and the mouth feel was gummy and not pleasant. The red spicy dumpling fared slightly better, thinner skin but still too thick but have an interesting filling. Ginger, five spice and Szechuan peppercorn. Disappointing overall.

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Braised organic Duke of Berkshire pork with Mantou. I was expecting a white fluffy bun stuffed with the braised pork and so was very surprised by the 50p size bun. Taste wise, the bun was just bad! Slightly crispy on the outside with texture of wholemeal bread on the inside. Totally out of character. The moist and tender braised pork saved this dish to be let down once again by the overly sweet sauce. Even the Boom thought the sauce to be too sweet.

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Sugar snap, lotus root and water chestnut in XO sauce. This dish showcase the different texture of the vegetables. Nice, but nothing spectacular.

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Hawberry red bean cake and glutinous sesame ball served with white peony tea. Junk has done it again! I ate my portion of this dish without taking a pic so had to hijack the same dish from the neighboring table for a snap.

We both thought the the proportion of the hawberry jelly could be more to better balance the coconut red bean cake.

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Wok fried lobster in garlic sesame sauce. The Boom thought the lobster was slightly on the tough side. The sauce was just meh.

wpid-wp-1391865909137.jpeg Char grilled Chilean sea bass. This dish we both love. The smoky char taste contrasted wonderfully with the naturally sweet taste of the sea bass.
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Seared Wagyu beef in VSOP sauce. The Boom say this is like pulled pork which I can understand. There is a slight moo to the beef but could not discern the fatty marbling I would expect from a Wagyu. Perhaps because the cut has been braised?

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Seared Rhug Farm organic lamb with pan mee. This was average. I was expecting handmade pan mee noodles. Instead, the noodles tasted more like pad thai. The lamb pieces was way too salty I thought.

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Lemon cream, citrus sable and yogurt sorbet. Most of the other reviews I’ve read of HKK all said the dessert was a let down. I thought otherwise which is rare as I’m not a big dessert fan. We both loved this dish. The tart of the lemon cream and sorbet balanced the rich butter biscuit base. Only thing I would say is though well executed, this is not a typical Chinese dessert.

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Chocolate velvet, roast banana and five spice crouton. Another non Chinese dessert but utterly delicious! After the tartness of the last dish, this was rich and warming. The roast banana goes so well with the rich chocolate mousse. Slightly let down by the crouton. Way too hard and tough.
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Selection of petits fours. This reminds me of Pick and Mix from Woolworths… meh!
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The final verdict! Not cheap, won’t be repeating it again soon but a worthwhile experience.

HKK
Broadgate West
88 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BE
020 3535 1888

Homemade Savoury Rice Dumpling (Bak Chang) – West London

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Junk is always up for a challenge when it comes to replicating food from my childhood days. Previous endeavours include yam cake, radish cake, samosas, laksa and various other dishes my Mom would make. With time on my hands and a pair of spare hands from Boom, decided to up the ante and try something more daunting.

Bak chang or zongzi is a Chinese bamboo leaf wrapped snack made from glutinous rice stuffed with various ingredients. Depending on the stuffing, it can either be savoury or sweet. There is even a Nonya version which is a hybrid of the two with a slightly sweet minced pork stuffing. I went for the traditional version with pork, dried mushroom, chestnuts, dried shrimp and other bits and pieces with five spice seasoning.

Won’t bore you with the ingredient list and detailed instructions. You can refer to other blogs for that. I know you are only interested in the pics!

The most important ingredient – Glutinous Rice, in original packing. after an overnight soak and fried with seasoning

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The wrapper – Bamboo leaves, in original packing and also after a soak.

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Stuffing – Chinese wax sausage and Salted Duck Egg. Note, you only need the egg yolk and it does not need to be cooked as the salting process solidifies the yolk

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More stuffing – Dried Shrimp, Dried Mushroom and Chestnuts. The dried stuff needs to soaked before frying.

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Shallots – Skinned, thinly sliced and fry till golden. See the amount of steam released while frying the shallots. Dreamy…

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Junk’s bunch – Proudly supported by Boom

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Boom’s bunch – Not bad an effort from the big clumsy cheese!

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The horde – After slow boiling in water for 2.5 hours.

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What we had for dinner! 2 bak chang each and some homemade samosas.

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What I had for breakfast this morning. Reheat in microwave on medium for 2 minutes.

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Best served with Lao Gan Ma’s Flavoured Chilli Oil or Maggi Garlic Chilli Sauce. I had a mixture of both!

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If anyone of you are interested and located in London, I have frozen the reminder of the horde and will be more than happy to share. Just drop me a comment!
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