Mixed Grill Platter – Cafe 1001, Brick Lane

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Some lunches are taken out of curiosity while others are driven by insatiable cravings. Today’s lunch was a result of too many meetings, not enough time. So I was involved in a release that did not go smoothly as well as back to back meetings from get go. Found myself only with 20 minutes to spare before my next meeting and it’s already way past lunch time. No meandering around looking for interesting bites today I’m afraid.

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Felt like a long time ago when I blogged about the Polish Sausage Baguette from Cafe 1001 on Brick Lane. Guess that being one of my first posts, it feels ancient but I have only actually blogged for 3 months. Anyway, thought I take some different pictures showcasing the BBQ area of Cafe 1001. The salad bar with the cash register and big tubs filled with Red Stripe and cider. They are also selling hot mulled wine since the weather turned cold.

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Look at the fat juicy sausages on the grill! Yummy!

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Menu of the BBQ. Was seriously tempted to get the Polish Sausage Baguette again but I know it will be a boring read for you folks. So made the ultimate sacrifice and went with the Mixed Grill Platter. At £6, I still think the sausage baguette is a better value.

The last time I had the Mixed Grill Platter, the chicken breast was plain, hardly any seasoning on it. I’m glad to see that they have improved things by marinating the chicken breast in a Cajun style marinade. Made a huge difference to the meal as now it’s not just simply a dry piece of chicken breast. As usual, the polish sausage was scrumptious, the crispy bacon bits went very well with the fresh salad. The only letdown were the potato wedges, they were dry having been resident in the oven for too long. I think they should consider marinating the wedges or at least give it a spicy salt coating.

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Cafe 1001
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL
0207 247 6166

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Spag Bol and Seafood Soup – Kruger, Canary Wharf

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Food craving is a funny thing. Sometimes you know what triggers an episode, perhaps you saw someone eating something or a recipe on TV. It could be triggered by weather changes, ice cream when it’s hot and comforting warm stew when it’s cold. More often than not, there are no origins to my craving, they just come out of the blue and usually it’s for very common foods. So I decided to satiate my craving for spag bol today.

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Kruger located in Canary Wharf focuses on takeaway meals for the folks working in the area. I know of a couple of other Kruger outlets, one near Moorgate and another near Cannon Street but the Canary Wharf one is different as it also has a eat-in cafe with it’s own menu. You will be spoil for choice at Kruger, anything from filled hot or cold sandwiches and wraps, salads, soups, ready made meals to orders from the hot kitchen.

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Since I was craving for spag bol, settled for the ready made meals from the fridge section. Also added a large Mix Seafood Soup and a lamb samosa which I will have after my gym session later. The pasta was £3, the soup another £3 and the samosa is £1.50. Feast for the gluttonous at £7.50, can’t complain about that!

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As the spag bol is pre-made, I was not surprised that the spaghetti is overcooked. Not al dente like it’s suppose to be. The bolognese sauce was pretty decent which was a surprise! Thick, rich and meaty with a strong hint of bay leave, if only the pasta was cooked less.

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The winner of today’s lunch is definitely the Mix Seafood Soup. I was not too sure what I will get when I ordered and was delighted that it’s a bouillabaisse style soup. Generous pieces of squid, shrimp, mussels were scattered throughout, they are probably the frozen kind. The main body of the soup was made up of celery, carrots, onions and strongly spiced with cayenne pepper. Everything combined into a spicy but comforting meal. All soup comes with a bread roll which is a nice touch as most other placed charge extra from bread.

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Craving sorted and all together pretty satisfied.

Kruger
Cabot Place
Canary Wharf
London E14 4QT
0207 719 1629

Beef Burrito – Mexway, Shoreditch Boxpark

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Hola! It has been awhile since I had a burrito so thought why not? Remembered there was a Mexican place at the Boxpark so I grabbed one while travelling from one office to another.

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Mexway is one of the few food outlets at Shoreditch Boxpark and I believe this is their only outlet. The container (Boxpark shops are all made out of shipping containers) is mostly taken up by the long counter where the food is assembled so the only seats are outside. Making an order is easy, first you chose between burrito, taco, salad or totopos. What is a totopos you might ask? Reading the definition in Wiki, I think it’s similar to what is commonly known as nachos.

Back to ordering, next you chose the filling of either chicken, beef, pork or veggie. Then you choose either rice or beans or both then lastly a salsa. I went with burrito, beef, both rice and beans and the spicy salsa. Apart from that, I also got guacamole, cheese and some lettuce and chopped tomatoes. At £5.95, pricing is pretty standard for a Mexican burrito. Also added some tortilla chips with salsa at £1.50.

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The burrito is pretty good I have to admit. The beef was nicely marinated but still has the beefy taste, the rice was nutty and provides a good chew. The spicy salsa was a killer! Worse was I had the same spicy salsa on my tortilla chips as well. For those you who can’t take the heat, suggest you go with a milder salsa. I can still feel the warmth radiating in my tummy now. My only complain is that the burrito is not hot (temperature wise). Not asking for it to be boiling but if the meat was kept warmer, I think it would taste even better.

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Mexway
52 Boxpark
Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6GY
0207 613 2973

Chicken Katsu Curry – Wasabi, Canary Wharf

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The inevitable has happened, I’m finally reviewing the Chicken Katsu Curry from Wasabi. It is not that I’m avoiding it or anything, it’s just there is always a queue at the Canary Wharf outlet and if I were to walk from Brick Lane to Liverpool Street, I’m better off getting something more interesting. Yes, I think the Chicken Katsu Curry from Wasabi is “common”.

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Wasabi is one of the few Japanese fast food chain that has sprung up recently. Various types of sushi, bento boxes as well as a range of hot foods are available. The options on offer is dependent on which brand you visit. But I bet one of the best selling item on their menu is the Chicken Katsu Curry. The smell of the curry is irresitable.

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The problem with the Canary Wharf branch is that it is so damn crowded! There are 2 queues, one for hot food while the other is for the sushi and bento boxes in the fridge area. Obviously the one for the hot food is the longer of the two. You don’t need to wait very long in the hot food queue as the staff at Wasabi are very efficient. They will take your order while you are still in the queue, give you a number and you proceed to pay at the counter. Then you have to mill around while waiting for your order to be ready. You only probabkly have to wait a couple of minutes but when you have 20-30 people milling around, things can get quite chaotic.

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Anyway, back to my lunch. Apart from Chicken Katsu Curry which cost £5.45, I got the mini Spicy Chirashi Set which is £1.95. I’m always surprised why is the Chirashi so cheap? In most Japanese restaurants, the Chirashi Sushi is usually one of the more expensive rice bowls on the menu as it’s essentially mixed sashimi on rice. If you consider that the Chirashi is £1.95 while a Onigiri is £1.50, the Chirashi is a much better value. I have a cunning feeling that the Chirashi might be made with offcuts from making the sashimi and leftover rice? Having said that, it is delicious for what it is. Not sure whether I have tried the non-spicy version but the spicy one is pretty full on. If they could tone down the chilli sauce, I might be able to taste the fish better.

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On to the star of today’s lunch, the Chicken Katsu Curry! Have to say I’m a tad underwhelmed by today’s katsu. The breadcrumb coating was soggy and some even fell off the chicken. The last time I had the Chicken Katsu Curry from Wasabi, I recall they used smaller pieces of chicken katsu. Today, I was given 2 big pieces which I’m grateful for. The curry sauce as usual is gooey and flavourful with bits of carrot and onions. Curry sauce and sticky Japanese rice, a match made in heaven…

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My advice to you, if you want to try Wasabi’s Chicken Katsu Curry, spare yourself the stress of queueing up at the Canary Wharf branch since there are so many other Wasabi outlets out there.

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Wasabi
385 Cabot Place
Canary Wharf
London E14 4QS
0207 719 6247

Indonesian Platter – Kota Satay, Old Spitalfields Market

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I had comments this week from colleagues in the office saying by now, I must have exhausted the eateries around the area. They find it hard to imagine there are still places I have yet to blog about. Well, today’s place is one of those that is still in my “to blog” list. I still have quite a few left up my sleeves so watch this space.

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Kota Satay is another one of the takeaway stalls in Old Spitalfields Market, located along side Keke, Carribean Cafe and Misha. Most of the items on the menu are pre-made and can be seen in the steam table. The chefs in the small kitchen at the back of the shop cooks when there is a need to top up the steam table. I think the turnover is pretty quick especially during lunch time so the food can be considered freshly cooked.

Looking at the menu, there are only a few main dish options and most of the dishes can be combined with either fried rice or fried noodle which make life easier for those undecided. I went with the Indonesian Platter with noodles and handled over £6.50 for my choice. For £6.50, you get a heap of fried noodles with vegetables, 2 sticks of chicken satay and a big spring roll. Most of the other options cost either £5.50 or £6.

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I have always been dubious about pre-made dishes with noodles or rice combination places. Reminds me of all the similar stalls in Camden Lock market where though the food looks good, taste wise can be pretty foul. Luckily, Kota Satay more than lived up to my expectations, perhaps I was not expecting much in the first place. The noodles were nicely fried, still chewy with crunchy slices of cabbage and nicely seasoned as well. The curry sauce I chose instead of peanut sauce offered was tangy and on a sweet side but tasty nonetheless. The chicken satay has a mild but pleasant marinade, I have never really been a big satay fan so this will always be a meh for me. The spring rolls was crunchy and filled with bean sprouts and other julienned veg. For once, spring roll that is not just purely skin.

So not as bad a lunch as I thought it would be. Overall, pretty satisfied.

PS: Do add some chilli paste from the container under the counter. Adds some zing to your meal.

Kota Satay
Old Spitalfields Markets
Commercial Street
London E1 6BG

Lamb Curry and Rice – Cafe Grill, Brick Lane

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Junk is back to her old big portion ways today and decided it’s been awhile since she had a curry. So it’s back to Brick Lane for lunch today. Cafe Grill is directly opposite Amar Gaon and looks like a good potential when I took a sneak peek yesterday.

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The restaurant looks like a more upmarket and modern version of Amar Gaon with 2 steam tables holding hot food and a cold one containing shish kebabs ready for the grill and fresh salads. There were quite a few hot dishes available and I was spoiled for choice. With no labels against each dish, I once again resorted to pointing and asking.

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Ended up with a lamb curry and a shredded veg dish which I’m told was bitter gourd. I was expecting my choices to be packed together with rice, all in the same box. Got worried when the 2 dishes I wanted were placed in different containers. Told the server I only have £8 in coins available as I couldn’t be bothered to bring my wallet and wanted to waste my coins. He told me my order actually totals at £9.40 but for me, he will do it for what I had. What a nice man! Perhaps he was thinking:”Oh, poor little Chinese girl…”

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What I was told was bitter gourd turned out to be shredded potatoes! But I was happy with my choice as the potatoes are cooked to the right tenderness and is mildly spiced with turmeric. The sympathetic spicing brought out the natural sweetness of potatoes. Watch out for the whole dried chillies scattered though, one bite could kill! The lamb curry was less successful I’m afraid as somehow, it’s missing the depth of flavour your would expect from a strong meat curry but at least the lamb was tender. There were gourd like slices amongst the lamb and I had to Google to figure out what gourd it was. I think it’s bottle gourd and it’s the first time I have tried it. The bottle slices taste slightly bitter and somehow has a lemony taste. I don’t mind it.

In all, an ok lunch. I did see a dry fried mackerel dish that looked pretty interesting in the hot steam table. Perhaps I will give that a try next time.

Cafe Grill
35 Brick Lane
London E1 6PU
0207 247 3838

Chicken Noodle Supersoup – Chop’d, Old Spitalfield Market

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The healthy trend continues today at Junk4lunch but I promise my gluttonious self will return soon. As the weather turns colder, keep finding myself craving for soupy noodles. I have tried most of the soupy stuff from the independent as well as chain stalls around the area with one exception. So thought why not?

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Chop’d is one of those what I would call DIY salad places that have sprung up in recent years. The idea is simple, they categorized the salad ingredients into groups, then you get to pick a number of items from each group to create your own salad for a fix price. You may add more from each group at an additional cost obviously. I find the concept pretty fun but for those of you who are undecisive, it can be a nightmare trying to figure out what goes with what with the queue forming behind you. To solve this problem, Chop’d also have pre-made salads ready to go. Most of these are tried and tested combination so they can’t go wrong.

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Apart from salads, Chop’d also has a variety of hot stews, noodle soup, wraps and sweet treats. To satiate my craving, I grabbed the Chicken Noodle Supersoup tub from the fridge section and got it topped up with Thai Spicy broth. Other broth options include a vegetable and a chicken broth. The soup tubs come in 2 sizes, the small at £3.50 and the large is £5.50. With the large soup coming in at only 271 kcal, perhaps I can have some toast and Marmite later!

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I was surprised, that I was only given a spoon and suspect the noodles will be all cut up thus you’d only need a spoon. I was right (as usual) also, the proportion of noodle to other ingredient is surprisingly low. I think the thin rice noodles only took up 10% of the entire tub. No wonder they can keep the calories down. Apart from the rice noodles, the other ingredients are shredded roast chicken, brocoli, savoy cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, green beans, lemongrass, edamame and some onion confit (sliced onions that has been sweat down).

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Did I enjoy it? Well, the broth was light and strongly fragrant with lemongrass but could with more salt. All the crunchy veggies were a joy to chew, realised I did not really missed the noodles while the shredded chicken was moist and tender. I enjoyed it but somehow, it did not hit my taste buds the way Crussh did yesterday. Perhaps I’m really hungry today, I think this is best suited for a hangover day.

Chop’d
2 Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6EW
0207 247 8757